What I Am Now

by Alex Sobel

I look for markers to tell me where I am, when I am. 

When were those jeans popular? What year did that car come out? Was I in high school? College? When I don’t recognize the fashion, the cars, the restaurants, then I know it’s a different time, it’s happening after. 

After I’m gone. 

I’ve heard the metaphors, the way time moves, the way we would look to a two-dimensional man, like magic. 

I’m outside of all of that now. 

The flashes are almost always of women, all different kinds. I don’t see a connection, but I know there is one. 

I have no control over where I go. 

I follow one girl as she comes home, makes dinner, watches TV with her Shih Tzu. Another is walking down the street, looks to her left, and then it fades. 

I see colors. They beat like they’re their own hearts. 

It comes together when I see him across from a pretty brunette. He’s married to her. Then, three months later, he’s married to me. 

He says he still cares about her, their love was real. She takes it much better than I would have. 

He told me they hugged at the end, but I always wondered if they kissed, one last time. 

I’m gone before I find out. 

Somewhere else. Someone else. 

These women, the ones I follow, they love him. Loved him. Will love him. I’m trying to figure out the why, why this is happening, but there’s no one to answer the question. 

I want it to stop. 

The two of them must be six or seven. I get to see my future husband expose himself. The flash is mercifully quick. 

I hate him for a moment, but like everything else, it fades. 

Was I happy in life? I don’t remember it. My parents loved me. He drank too much, but there was love there. 

It comes back sometimes, parties skipped, silences that I let go on too long. 

I remember the colors. I see mostly scarlet. 

I have influence, I’m finding. I push a balloon, wake up a girl’s dog. The colors. All I have to do is change the colors. 

I’m testing, experimenting. 

We struggled with sex when we were together. It was painful for me to be a part of, even more painful to see in practice with another woman. He kneels over her, touching himself, trying to get it to work. Her face is confused. It says: is there something wrong with him? Then it says: is there something wrong with me? 

I died in a car accident. That doesn’t feel right. I am dying in a car accident. It feels ongoing. Maybe I’m still on the table, or, on the ground, or maybe in the driver’s seat. 

No, he was driving when it happened. 

He was drunk. 

I get one of the women to not sleep with him. He’s young, before we met. Maybe he’s still married to his first wife. He always told me that he never cheated on her. With anyone but me, of course. 

I focus. I can see how much she wants it. It’s a glowing orange mass. And then it softens, green, then blue. And it’s over. 

I see his first wife one more time, old, long after me. She’s surrounded by family, friends. She must have remarried. Then why do I still see the glowing red? It’s been so long, I want to tell her. She closes her eyes and she’s gone. 

Will she become like me? 

I hope not. But time isn’t the same anymore. If this is what’s going to happen to her, then it’s already happened. 

It’s always been happening. 

I knew it would come. Finally I see it: me, frizzy haired, tired, buzzed. I see him, still dressed from work. He looks like he could change the world. 

He killed me. He didn’t mean to, but he did. 

I could make myself walk away from that, I realize. 

What if I do? What will happen to what I am now? 

I get close to myself, my old self. I always hated my face, especially the freckles on my nose. 

But up close, they’re really quite beautiful. 

I look for the color, what’s happening in my heart. But it’s not mine, is it? It’s her heart now. 

Purple. The color is purple. 

I think about his ex-wife, the orange, the flicker, watching it extinguish. I try to remember what a whisper is. 

Be happy, I say. Please. 

He approaches her, their hands close together on the bar, their body language already so familiar. 

The last thing I see is the lovers, the purple moving across my sightline. Past, present, and future. It flickers, changes color. Changes into something new. 

And then black.

Alex Sobel likes bothering his dogs while they’re trying to sleep and dislikes when people eat while standing up. He works with children with special needs and writes when he gets a chance. He lives in Toledo, Ohio with his wife.
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