1 | switch

18 5 1
                                                  

(the switches read like this - years:months:days:hours:minutes:seconds)

phil

when i wake up in the morning, the very first thing i do is look down at my wrist. before rubbing the sleep from my eyes, before brushing the hair off my forehead. i look down and read it.

00:00:00:00:56:37

even in this small act i feel guilty. like i'm doing something scandalous.

my parents raised me to think these switches were bad. that they don't mean anything; they're not true. i want to believe them but it's hard not to get curious. i don't want to rebel. i want to make mom and dad happy. they carved out their switches a long time ago and found each other on their own. they say that it's the traditional way, the correct way.

something small in the back of my head tells me they could be wrong.

i finally find the motivation to get out of bed somehow. i sit up and brush my slightly greasy hair out of my face. i stretch, and yawn, and do everything i can do to avoid today's events.

i get up and trade minecraft pajama pants for black jeans. shoes lace themselves up in my zombielike state and before i know it, i'm heading to the bathroom to brush my teeth. the first day of a new school year is always tough, but this one is extra awful.

i finally get downstairs and see my parents. they never removed my switch (thankfully) but they have no clue how much time is left on it and they assume i don't care. i do. i can't help it.

my dad is reclining, watching the morning news. i pay attention for a few minutes. it seems to be about laws going in place to further restrict the gix. gix are an alien clan that touched down to earth around 50 years ago. they seem nice enough, and the united states was more than happy to let them into the country. now we have a new president though, and she appears to be upset with how involved the gix are with human species. unbothered, i turn my attention to my mother.

mom is a tall woman, strong and fierce as they come. she's the breadwinner between my parents, they try extremely hard not to fall into society's gender roles. i always respected that. her medium length brown hair frames her face and her lips always seemed to be pulled taut, like she's always contemplating. and i don't know, maybe she is.

"hi mom." i say with a smile. she greets me, wide eyed, with a hug. i hug back. she smells like perfume.

"good morning phil. are you ready for your first day of school?" i nod my head as i adjust my glasses.

"i think so. i'm a bit nervous." i confess.

"oh, honey. there's nothing to worry about." ha. ironic. "hurry along now, or you'll miss the bus."

"okay. bye mom."

"bye sweetie."

"bye dad!" i shout through the house. he only grunts in response.

when i finally get to school, i'm almost positive i'm going to be late. all my classes are in a completely different wing than they were last year. i look down at my schedule and sigh. the hallways are nearly empty now and i still can't find room 201. i round another corner, nearly bumping into someone, and finally i spot the door i'd been looking for. just as i do, the late bell rings. fantastic.

i'm about to open the door when i freeze. something dawns on me. i slowly look back down to my wrist.

00:00:00:00:00:41

i'm not one to curse, but the only phrase that seems to be running through my head is "holy shit". whoever i'm supposed to end up with is right through this door.

36 seconds.

i know i'm not supposed to care, but i do. i care a lot. what if i can't find the willpower to stay away from them? what if... what if i fall in love?

22 seconds.

the idea of love has never scared me more than it does in this very moment. it terrifies me.

14 seconds.

no, i won't. i won't love them. i will stay away; stand my ground. they mean nothing.

7 seconds.

i can't. i can't.

4.

i'm scared.

3.

i'm terrified.

2.

i can't do it! i can't!

1.

i open the door.

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