Writer’s Digest Writing Prompt: At exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve you receive an email labeled “Open Immediately.” The really strange thing is that the email is apparently from your future self. What does it say?
(500 words or fewer) (I did 600 words)
“Okay sweetie, one minute until midnight. Get those lips ready.”
“Oh, they’re ready,” I say.
Janice blows me a kiss and turns to watch the TV behind the bartender. Janice. Sweet, adorable, beautiful Janice. It was fate that we ran into each other tonight, on New Year’s Eve. It has to be a sign that we were meant to be together. I can’t wait to kiss her at midnight and start the new year off together.
Buzz-buzz-buzz. I pull out my phone to see that I have an email. That’s weird. It’s from me, but it’s dated a year from now. The subject line says “Open Immediately!” As the crowd begins to countdown from thirty seconds, I read the email.
AT MIDNIGHT, DON’T KISS HER! WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT KISS JANICE! OUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT!
THE FUTURE YOU
What? This is crazy. This has to be a hoax.
20… 19… 18…
I watch Janice counting down with the crowd, a big, excited smile on her face. What if this isn’t a hoax. What if I ignore the email and kiss her and mess up my future.
10… 9… 8…
“Okay sweetie,” she says, “pucker up.”
Oh my God. What do I do? I don’t know what I should do.
3… 2… 1… Happy New Year!
Janice leans in for the kiss.
“I can’t do this,” I say.
“What? What do you mean?”
I grab at the first thing that pops in my head. “Uh, isn’t it bad luck or something to kiss at midnight?” That was stupid.
“No, silly. It’s good luck to kiss. Now come here Bing-a-ling.”
Bing-a-what? I step back as Janice steps towards me.
“Quit running from me,” she says. “Now kiss me, Chandler.”
What? Who’s Chandler? When I turn from Janice, I see my reflection in the mirror behind the bar. But instead of seeing me, I see Chandler Bing from Friends staring back at me.
Oh my god. Could this night get anymore weird?
Janice wraps her arms around me, and I wriggle out her grasp in a melodramatic way. I tug at my sweater vest, trying to pull away the Chandler layers and get to the real me.
“Chandler, what are doing? You’re scaring me,” Janice says, stepping away.
“I’m not Chandler,” I yell over and over as I pull and pull at the sweater.
When I finally get it over my head, I notice it’s not a sweater anymore. It’s a blanket. When I look around, I’m not in the bar anymore. I’m in my bed. In my room. In my apartment.
I get up and run to the mirror to see my reflection. It’s me—the real me—staring back. Oh thank God it was just a dream. I guess watching 12 episodes of Friends yesterday was a bit much.
As I get back in bed, my roommate busts into the room holding a frying pan.
“I heard yelling and screaming in here. Is everything okay? I thought maybe a burglar got in,” he says.
“No, yeah, it was just a bad dream.” I gesture to the frying pan and say, “Really? A frying pan? What were you gonna do, make him an omelette?”
“I, uh, I don’t know,” he says. “Ah man, now I’m hungry. I’m gonna make me some eggs. You want some?”
“No, I’m going back to sleep.”
“You sure you want to do that? I mean, that’s when you had the bad dream.”
“I’ll take my chances.”
“Okay, suit yourself. Good night,” he says as he turns off the light and walks out.
“Good night, Joey.”