“He’s opening his eyes.”
“Check this out. You’re peeing in a bag dude!”
“Oh thank God you’re okay, sweetheart.”
“Ali…. It’s me, Sara! Can you hear me?”
“You’re peeing in a bag man. That’s worse than being dead!”
“Your son’s surgery went very well Mr. and Mrs. Salem. He’s going to be a little groggy for a while because of the anesthetics. We’ll monitor him for the next 24 hours and if all is well, you can take him home in the morning.” The doctor informed my parents who at this point were as pale white as December snow.
I was hooked up to a weird beeping machine. My head was pounding like a jackhammer and my throat was too dry I could barely swallow.
I was so confused.
Everything was so fuzzy.
“What happened?” I managed to ask in a strained voice.
“You were in a car accident.” My dad replied. “Thank God you’re okay, son!”
He looks calm. Oh my God, my dad is strangely calm. He’s NOT yelling or swearing or threating to feed me to the dogs.
Is this the afterlife where all dreams come true?
I could see Joe standing in the back laughing and taking pictures of me with his stupid phone.
And my sister was holding my hand and crying.
This is so unreal….
It’s the drugs, right? They’re making me hallucinate.
A nurse walked in and asked everyone to let me rest. My parents went to talk to the doctors again, and Joe started telling Sara funny stories about me to cheer her up. Well-played Joe! Have fun gawking at my little sister while I lie here quietly planning your death!
Only one young man stayed behind. He sat on the chair in the corner staring at me with a goofy smile.
He looked like those homeless tattooed guys with bad teeth. His shirt must have been chewed by at least 20 dogs, and his shoes had holes in them.
Why the he#@ is this guy hanging out in my room?
Someone call security!
“How ya feeling, dude?” The weird guy stunk up the hospital with his B.O.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Your mom almost got a heart attack when she heard about the accident. How about looking both ways next time before crossing the street, huh?”
“Who the he#$ are you?”
“I’m Ali Salem. Ali with an ‘I’ not a ‘Y’”
“I’m you in 10 years from now. I’m turning 24 in three weeks but I still remember this day vividly though.”
“The nurse said you could have some ice chips.” Joe walked in with a silly grin on his face. “Hey! Who were you talking to?”
“Get this guy out of my room!” I yelled.
“What guy?” Joe looked around the room, puzzled.
“This smelly disgusting guy who thinks he’s ‘me in the future’! Get him outta here.”
“Whoa! Those are some serious hardcore drugs they gave you man.” Joe laughed. “Wait till the whole squad hears about this!”
“Cut it out, Joe. I’m serious. Get this man out of my room! NOW!”
“Yo! Easy dude. What are you talking about? There’s no one here, it’s just you and me, Ali” Joe sounded worried.
I don’t get it. The guy was sitting right there. He’s right next to my bed picking his nose and burping and Joe can’t even see him. Is this one of his stupid pranks? Are they in on this together?
“I gotta go now. I’ll call you, k?” Joe said after hanging up with his mom for the 9th time. The second he left I pressed the call button and an old chubby nurse came rushing in.
“How are you feeling dear? Can I get you anything?” She asked, checking my temp and pulse.
“Can you PLEASE make this guy leave?” I asked, letting the word ‘dear’ slide by, even though it made my teeth hurt.
She looked around confused then said, “Oh, is there someone in the bathroom?”
The homeless guy winked at me and then cracked up laughing. Even mama-bear nurse couldn’t see him.
What the WHAT???
“No, I’m just tired I think I’m gonna rest now.” I sighed.
“I’m sure you are dear. You’ve been very brave today. I bet your parents will flood your room with toys and candy when you get home.” The nurse smiled.
Exactly how old does this woman think I am? 5?
I closed my eyes when she finally left but I could still feel Mr. Creepy from the future staring at me. He smelled like rotten eggs, mixed with sardines and expired milk chocolate.
“You ignoring me now?” He asked.
“It’s the drugs. It’s the drugs. It’s the drugs” I whispered over and over.
“Ali? Ali? Ali Salem! Whoa calling my own name sounds weird.” The greasy man sniffed. “Okay, I gotta question. Why can’t your nose be 12 inches long?” He asked.
I totally ignored him and looked the other way, especially when he answered his own stupid question and said, “Coz then it would be a foot! HAHAHAHHAAAA HAHAHAHAHHHA!”
NO! This can’t be me in the future. NO WAY. NOOOOOOO!
24? He’s a slime bag. Even when I was a child I wasn’t THIS childish! NO!
I closed my eyes and heard his stupid annoying laughter slowly fade away.
Falling asleep has never felt this good.
Or this scary….
I only skipped ONE and a half days of school. No fair!
Friday I was back home. (That’s when ‘Mr. Creepy From The Future’ disappeared. Oh, thank You, God.)
Both Monday and Tuesday were off for I dunno what reason. I ate a lot and slept a lot and got fussed over a lot (Which was kinda cool)
Even Sara was being nice. I think this car accident thing made me believe miracles DO happen.
So by Wednesday, I was already feeling better.
It was time to go back to school (Urghhh)
“Aren’t you excited?” My mom asked while making breakfast.
When grown-ups ask students questions like that it either means they’ve never actually been to school so they have no idea what they’re talking about OR they think waking up early, cramming your brain with information you’ll never use in real life and stressing over midterms and finals is actually EXCITING. Which makes me doubt they’re HUMAN!
“Yeah, mom… I’m like crazy, over-the-moon stoked.” I said.
“There’s my sarcastic boy. I was wondering where he went. Welcome back!” My mom smiled.
It ended up being an awesome day though. People were treating me like a celebrity, or a war survivor or something. Girls were all over me with questions about the accident and compliments, and even the teachers were being kinder than usual. At least up until English class when Mrs. Nelson reminded the whole class of the due date for the book review.
Take a wild guess…
“If we’re done, can we submit it today?” Lena raised a long skinny arm to ask her usual annoying questions.
The girl was already done writing a ten-page review with a table of contents and references and I hadn’t even started reading the damn book.
I missed too many deadlines and flunked too many pop quizzes in English I need this paper to pass.
That night I was a total wreck. I realized I had no more options. There was no time to read a 550-page novel, so I looked up some book summaries and got the main idea. That’s it. 7 pm exactly, no matter who calls or what happens I’m starting on this paper.
Oops, too late, it’s 7:08 pm
Some Netflix to warm up my brain and I’ll start at 8 pm SHARP!
And I did start exactly on time.
I Googled some book reviews, chatted with a couple of friends to make sure I understood the assignment right, then, you know, surfed for some articles on sports and I found this piece on Mohammad Ali. He was a heavyweight legend. They called him “Sportsman of the Century!”. Did you know he was dyslexic? Yeah, I didn’t know what that was till I searched it too. Turns out he couldn’t read. He once said, “I never said I was the smartest, I said I was the greatest!”
See? You don’t need good grades to be the best.
Too bad I quit soccer. I was awesome! I could’ve been the next Messi…
Check his best goals on YouTube. Mind-blow-ing!
Fine, I didn’t actually QUIT soccer. The coach kicked me out coz I missed a couple of practices. But when you put off school work till the last moment possible you end up pulling too many all-nighters to finish, and you just wanna crash!
Next year’s tryouts for sure. I’ll definitely have it together by then.
Okay back to English homework.
Open up a new document.
Type name and old date to make it look like I started three weeks ago.
Centering the title in the middle of the page.
Bold? Yeah okay.
Underline? Why not?
Use a fancy font color? Hmmmmm that’s a big decision. Let me think about it.
Too many open windows in the background. I should organize my files and trash those pictures we took on the ski trip. Gotta delete this memory forever!
I told Joe I’d give him back that snowboard I borrowed… two years ago!
I should start saving and get me one of those. Let’s search the best online offers.
Somewhere in between YouTube videos, I realized I was supposed to be working on the English paper.
Damn. It’s 10:30 already?!
I’m so overtired my eyes are drooping.
I never thought I’d say this but mom is right. I AM a PRO at procrastinating! It’s like a force of nature pulling at me.
I HATE THIS! I had six weeks to finish this stupid review.
I’m so stressed I need a Red Bull! And a snack!
“About time man. I’m starving!” A voice from behind me said.
I jumped like toast popping out of the toaster. My first instinct was to run for the door but I couldn’t. My brain froze completely and my heart was racing. Plus I really REALLY needed to pee!
“Did I scare you?” The man said.
“Who the he#$ are you?” I asked in a shaky voice.
“It’s me! Ali… Ali Salem. You can call me Big Al. That’s what the homies call me”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was him! The 24-year-old creep who pretends to be me in the future. Oh my God, this is SO NOT HAPPENING!
“What do you want?” I asked, now more angry than scared.
“I just wanna hang dude. What’s your problem?”
“Go HANG yourself somewhere else.” I snapped. “Leave me alone!”
“But I got nowhere else to go.” He said.
“GO HOME! Or wherever the he#$ it is you came from.”
“I’m homeless. My landlord kicked me out.”
“Go stay at your friends’” I yelled.
“I don’t have friends anymore. They’ve moved on man. They won’t even return my calls.”
“Then go to your parents’ house.” I snapped.
“This IS my parents’ house!” He replied, sounding just as angry.
That’s my mind playing tricks on me. I obviously ran out of ways to procrastinate so my brain’s digging up new stalling techniques. This isn’t real. It’s just my imagination…
“Okay, we’re both very tense. How about a FIFA cup tournament, huh? Lighten up the mood?” Big Al asked.
“I don’t have time for this junk. I got a paper due tomorrow.” I said, opening my laptop again.
“Like I always say. ‘Due tomorrow’ just means ‘Do tomorrow’” Big Al explained.
“Nice. You’re so smart you should go work for NASA or something.” I said with disgust, “Now shut up and let me do it NOW!”
“Dude. Wake up and smell the code.” Big Al laughed.
“What code?” I asked.
“The stupid code of ethics!” He said, “Okay so here’s what happens. You go to school in the morning, kidnap Timmy-boy and make him write your paper. Of course, Mrs. Nelson finds out. Yeah, she’s miserable that way. And you get suspended for a week. End of story!”
“You’re lying. You can’t tell the future. No one can!” I said.
“I just did, bro!” Big Al said, propping himself on MY bed. “Now, how about that snack, huh?”
“You’re a freak, you know that?” I snapped.
“I know you are but what am I?” Big Al teased. “Get it?”
“Freak!” I spat out.
“If only I got a dollar for every time someone’s called me that. I’d probably be able to afford rent.” Big Al laughed again. “And what are you so worked up for? We did good! At least you got us through high school. I owe you big, dude!”
I wanted to ask him what happens after that. I wanted to know how he screwed up my future and became a world-renowned loser instead. But I didn’t. Coz that would mean I believe him. And I don’t! I’d rather clean the bathrooms in Psych ward than have a conversation with this freak.
Mom walked in to check on me. I looked at her and then at Big Al.
Then at her. Then at Big Al.
Nothing. She didn’t even flinch!
“Give it up, Ali. She can’t see me.” Big Al snorted.
“Is something wrong?” Mom asked.
“Ummmm no?” I said carefully.
She squinted her eyes and looked at me like she was a private investigator solving a mysterious case. She then sighed, wished me a good night and left.
“Mom probably thinks I’m a nut job,” I mumbled.
“Oh, she will flip out when you get suspended next week. And let’s not talk about what dad will do when he finds out. I’ll let you be surprised.” Big Al laughed hysterically.
“That’s not gonna happen coz I’m gonna do the work myself.” I insisted.
“You know Timmy boy is a best-selling author now?” Big Al said. “He wrote a book on the ‘Pandora-tomato- sauce- something technique’ to help kids study. It sold like 3 million copies in six months. Yeah, he’s on the cover of magazines now. What a douche!”
“Stop talking. I’m working here!” I said, feeling bitter and jealous and so many other mixed feelings I couldn’t even begin to describe.
Me? Ali Salem…? Jealous of Pizza-face Timmy? Pathetic!
I totally ignored Mr. Creepy and focused on my work. He soon gave up trying to distract me and disappeared. FINALLY!
I stayed up till 3 am to finish my paper. I had to prove Big Al wrong. And I did. All ten pages are done with the citation and everything! It could’ve been better if I had more time but still, better than nothing.
I just needed to print, that’s it.
Except the printer wasn’t working! URGHHHHH!
Why does God hate meeeeeeeeee?
EVERY SINGLE TIME!
I swear it’s like the printer smells my stress.
It took 45 minutes to get the stupid thing to work. Now I only had two hours left before I gotta wake up for school. And I never studied for my geo test.
Just when you think life can’t stink anymore, it does.
Hey, universe? BITE ME!
To be continued….
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