Seven Fifty Three

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Out of breath I paved my way through the forest of empty-gazed strangers whom were, as always, spread in an inconvenient uneven manner throughout the train car. As the doors smashed shut behind me, I headed for my favorite spot, at the far end of the car. There is a door there that leads to the next car, but the large red sign plastered across it, warning against opening said door, makes this the perfect location to rest your body uninterrupted for the entire subway ride.

After claiming my spot it was time to continue on with my morning routine so I checked the time. It was 07:53 am. I took out my notebook and opened it, glanced at my last entry "07:49 am, 97th Street, left the house" and paused.
No! I'm not doing this anymore. I shut the notebook angrily. I've been thoroughly documenting these incredibly mundane events of my life for the last 10 years and nothing has come of it. Every day is the same as the day before, nothing happens. There is no point anymore and I need to move on. I will not write "07:53 am, 96th Street, boarded the 1 train". My next entry will not be "08:25, 14th Street, drank coffee at Deutsch's". This stops now.

I exhaled loudly, as if to finally cleanse myself of this obsession, lamenting the days in which I used to write new entries with zeal, joyfully describing everything I saw and did. In those days I had such faith that something would happen. I don't anymore.
I turned to the window beside me. I could see my reflection starring back at me. I turned away. This is why I started the notebook to begin with, to be able to note the exact moment in time that I had met myself, my future-self. Creating a time machine has always been my destiny, my contribution to this world, I just knew. But still, when you try and fail so many times, you need a sign. My future-self would know this. He would know I will succeed someday, that all I need from him is a reassuring smile. Nothing big, I just desperately need to know that I'm not wasting my time. I started documenting my behavior so he could find me easily. But as time passed, and with my future-self never showing up, fear started growing inside me that the path I was on was one of those that did not include time travel. I might be one of the sad, unlucky, versions of myself that does not get to experience the satisfaction of doing something great.

These versions have to exist with some probability, and it's time I accept I am one of them. I accept it now, time to let go. I clenched my notebook with one hand and slowly opened the door behind me with the other. I threw my notebook out, imagining it being swallowed by the tunnel within second. Instead it hit a man standing in the space between the train cars. A familiar-looking man. I smiled. This is it. Finally!

It's cold to stand between the train cars as it rushes to the next stop. My heart was beating quickly, my hands shaking. You need to relax, I told myself, trying to focus my eyes on the back of my own head. You never get used to looking at yourself from the outside. My younger-self was hunched over the door. I remember this moment - I had completely given up. If it hadn't have been for me meeting myself, I would have moved on. But we did meet, I did travel through time, and sadly, I know what a non-life it is. Alive but not living, afraid to look at or touch anything, always having to fight the urge to do anything that might in some way change the world. Being just an observer for so long changes you, eats at you until you are nothing more than a shell of a person. Years go by and you realize that you have no new experiences, no friends, your sense of self is stripped from you, belonging to the 'you' of the time you traveled to, never to yourself. You don't exist, lost in time. I know what true misery is and every day I wish I didn't.

In just a few seconds I'll save myself from this inevitable fate. I saw him through the dirty window turn to the door and squeeze the handle. This is it. I held the door in its place. We will not meet! He squeezed it again, but it didn't budge. And again. After one last hail merry attempt he finally gave up.

I checked the time. It was now 07:54.

I sat back down on the moving metal beneath me. Many minutes had gone by and I felt lighter. I just changed the course of my life! My younger-self is now on a different path than the one I lived. He should thank me if we ever meet. I felt exhilarated.

What happens now? Since my younger-self has given up, he will never build that time machine and the 'me' that I am now doesn't exist anymore. So am I here or aren't I? It's too early in the morning for existentialism; I haven't even had my coffee yet. That's easy to fix - Deutsch's, here I come!

About the Author: 
An observer of life.