by Randolph Stuart

I DIED TEN YEARS ago. No, I’m not talking about some near-death experience. I honest to God fucking died. Now I know what you’re going to say, ‘Well, if you died then, how can you be here now?’ I know it’s weird, but hang on, it gets weirder.

It all started near as I can figure when I was ten years old. I rode my bike out onto the street without looking and I was hit broadside by a car doing forty miles an hour and was killed instantly.

Fast forward and I’m back on my bike and I ride out onto the street. Only this time it’s a few seconds later. The car hits my front tyre and I’m thrown to the ground. The driver gets out and sees I’m okay and drives on. I was scared and battered but I got up and kept on riding my bike. Number one.

The next time is a few years later. I’m sick in bed with the flu. It gets worse and I go to the hospital but they can’t help me. My lungs fill up with fluids and I die in the hospital. Reset the scene. I’m back at home sick with the flu, but I get better and the next week I’m back in school. Number two.

Fast forward several years. I’m learning to get my private pilot’s license. I’m in a Cessna 150 practicing my stall recovery like my CFI showed me. But I pull up too high and the next thing I know I’m in a spin, falling to the ground. I crash at over a hundred miles an hour. Start again. I’m back in my airplane when I get into a spin. I remember what my CFI told me what to do if this occurs. I cancel the spin and push the nose down to gain airspeed. I bottom out at over a hundred miles an hour. But I survive and continue with my practice. That’s 3.

A few years later in Scotland where I’m taking pictures near the edge of a cliff. A gust of wind blows my bag over the cliff to the water below. I impulsively grab at it and fall over the cliff. I fall onto the rocks below. Reset again. I’m back on the cliff taking pictures when a gust of wind blows my bag over the edge. I grab for it and miss, but I’m a few feet further back from the edge and I don’t fall over. Number 4.

A couple of years later I’m driving down the interstate. A car stops ahead of me and I slam on the brakes. Then the car behind me slams into me and turns my car into an accordion with my lifeless body inside it. Rewind the program.

I’m back in my car driving down the highway. A car stops ahead of me and I slam on the brakes. In my rear-view mirror I see the car behind me just seconds before it hits. I brace for the impact. The next thing I know I’m sitting in my car. My chest jammed against the steering wheel. I stay like this until a policeman pulls me out of the car’s window because the door is jammed shut. I’m dazed and battered but I survive. Number 5.

About ten years later I go out on a snowy day to get money from an ATM for groceries. On the way back I’m driving too fast and I spin out on a bridge. I hit the curb and flipped over. My car goes over the bridge rail and lands upside down on the road below. I’m killed instantly. Rewind a few seconds.

I’m driving back when I spin out on the bridge I hit the curb and flip over. But I stay on the road. I unhook my seatbelt and crawl out the window. Some firemen from the station across the road come running out to see if I’m okay. Number 6.

Which brings us to the present. Looking back on all this stuff that happened to me I keep thinking I should have died. That I did die. Now it gets really weird. I know this guy who’s all into numerology and stuff. He keeps talking about how numbers control our lives. I just smile and nod when he goes on one of his binges. If you listen to that crap too long you’ll end up believing it.

One of his favourite things is how certain numbers have a special relevance in our lives. Like the number seven. This is what has gotten me thinking. Looking back I ‘died’ six times and now I’m on life number seven.

This has made me think that we each have seven lives. Seven lives to use in case of emergency and then we bite the big one. Yes, I know it sounds crazy but it’s the only thing that makes any sense to me. It’s like those video games where you get so many lives to keep playing until you run out. Am I saying life is like a big video game that we’re all players in? I don’t know!

Now you say, what about all those people killed in plane crashes and such? I don’t know. All I can say is maybe there’s an alternate reality where the plane crash never happened and all those people went on with their lives like nothing happened. Maybe that feeling of deja vu you get every now and then is the universe resetting itself.

All I know is that I’m at number seven now. The last one I’m thinking. And I’m not taking any chances. I won’t fly. With my luck I’ll be on a flight with a bunch of people on their last life. I drive a car with seat belts, shoulder straps, driver and side airbags. I have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors all over the house with fire extinguishers in the kitchen and bedroom. I get inoculated for the flu every year and I have a living will telling the doctor to try any means to revive me.

So that’s my story. You’d probably think I’m crazy and I don’t blame you. But tell me, what number do you think you’re at?



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