Remember the Mistakes
A short story
She ignored it.
The next note appeared in the same place on Sunday morning. Same wobbly writing that said, “Me again. This is a test. Reply if you get this.” He found the note and showed it to her. They wondered and then threw it in the trash.
The next morning the third note appeared, “Why are you ignoring me?” She found it. They read it. Talked about it. Worried over it. Who wrote it? What did it mean? How did it get in their house?
When the forth note came, an angry undertone, it demanded, “Reply or you’ll be sorry!” He began to worry she was the writer; lately, she seemed to be acting strange. She began to believe he was trying to trick her, after all, the writing looked a little like his. They argued. They accused. They said things they didn’t mean. They slept in separate rooms that night.
On the fifth day, the note was longer. She found it, on the table as always, and felt a chill in her bones. “It’s me! You must listen to me. Don’t let her leave the house on Thursday morning. She won’t survive.”
It was Thursday morning. She felt unsettled. Trapped. She knew it must be him leaving the notes. The note said as much. He was lying. She crumpled the white paper and slipped it into her robe pocket.
From behind, he startled her with his question, “What did the note say?”
She lied, “There wasn’t a note this morning.”
He distrusted her. She distrusted him. They were coming unraveled.
She went about her morning as if everything was normal. Showered, dressed and ready to leave, she slipped by his office unseen. As she reached the front door, he said, “I don’t think you should go out today. I found the note in your robe. It warned us that you shouldn’t leave.”
She stood frozen with her hand on the doorknob. He stood a few feet from her in the hallway. She could hear his labored breathing. He could see her shaking hands.
“Why are you doing this to me, to us?” was her only response to him.
“Me? It’s not me! I swear it’s not me. Please believe me,” he pleaded with her.
He reached for her arm. It was a mistake. She jerked away and turned to face him. He looked frightened for her. She felt terrified of him.
“Don’t touch me!” she screamed, spittle peppered her lips. “I’m leaving. If I stay, you will kill me. The note said you would kill me.”
“You’re confused. It said you wouldn’t survive if you leave. I’m not the enemy. I would never hurt you,” he said angrily, clutched his hands into tight fists.
She mistook his fear for rage. He wanted desperately to make her understand. Sound reason disintegrated.
She turned and ran through the front door of their townhouse. Out on the sidewalk, she stopped, looked up and down the street for an escape. He stood at the top of the stairs, watched her helplessly. Panic took over as she darted into the street. She rushed blindly to escape him.
He screamed, “No!”
The truck smashed into her fragile body as effortlessly as an insect hitting a windshield. She felt no pain. His pain was unbearable.
On the day he laid her to rest, he returned home to find the last note he would ever receive. “I’ve made a dreadful mistake! I realize now I caused her death by contacting my past self. In 30 years, you will want to do exactly as I have done. You’ll want to save her. Remember this day. Remember your mistakes. For her sake, do not write the notes.”