A Second Call by Julia Schmitt-Palumbo

“Oh my god!! Ohmygod stop! Stop!”

You slam on the breaks at her cry, your head thrown back with the force, laughter bubbling up through the shock, adrenaline flooding your system. Mia’s hand slaps on your forearm and takes hold, it’s owner faking a glare around a slightly crazed grin. 

“Jesus, idiot! We could’ve crashed!”

“We wouldn’t’ve! Shut up,” you insist, shaking off her death grip and turning to face the passenger seat. Mia combs back her hair with her newly free hand, her right clenched around the handle by her head. Your hands fall from the steering wheel and you reach out to push her away from you, giggling as she leans back to dodge. Bathed in red from the stoplight, you grab her hand and squeeze, Mia’s eyes glinting in the rear lights of the car in front of you. Silence falls and in it, something big settles in the minute space between you. You suddenly become acutely aware of the effort it’s taking to close that space.

But you push and push and, just as you get close enough to kiss her, the red flips green and Mia’s shoving you back to your seat and your foot is on the gas without turning to look and apparently you’re a lot stronger than you thought because the car leaps forward so fast and you still haven’t quite recovered or even finished turning around and now you do and was that car always this close? Why hasn’t it pulled away yet? I swear the light turned gre-

Memories. Just memories. No, maybe better to call them dreams. Someone else’s life you lived. Memories you didn’t ask for but were Called to take. Called because They knew you could handle them. No one ever warned you what it was like to know.

You look around. Why are you still in class? The bell normally breaks you out of the memories, why is everyone here? Why are they looking at you?

Then you hear it.

A ring.

Someone’s being Called.

Childlike excitement seeps in and your eyes dart around the room, searching for the lucky student. But still, all eyes are on you. There’s no way. The ring sounds just as it had for every other Call you’ve witnessed. It sounds like your call. Like so many of your peers through the years. Like your mom’s at the dinner table three years ago. Like what you’ve heard about your dad’s when he was twenty-three. Like the hum of L.E.D. lights in an empty hallway. Not many of you could make that connection. You can.

It’s for you.

You’ve been expecting this Call – if one can even call it that – but every passing second the world seems to fold in upon you, echoing with that fearsome ring. The eyes of the students narrow in on you, shrinking in your chair, and from some of them, the ones who have been called before, worry fills their gaze. But from the others, it’s jealousy. Pure, unadulterated envy filtering through their eyelashes and clawing at you over and over again. They want to be you. Or, they think they do. But you can’t blame them, they’ve never been called – not even once. They don’t know what they’re in for.

Do you?

You don’t know why you’re still in this class. It wouldn’t have even been that much of a hassle to just switch to a study hall and being called exempts you from Just Society credits. But then you’d be forced to work and you need the time to remember. To think. Maybe some part of you is nostalgic. You used to take Just Society – or Social Studies, whatever it’s called. Or did you? Was that you? Someone took it, and you got to sit through everything class they did. You got to sit through every memory they had. Even the ones they don’t remember?

Maybe you miss different things. Somethings you just can’t get over, just can’t forget. Ever since you woke back up, you feel like you’ve been missing them. And now you can’t remember a time when you didn’t have them resting in the back of your mind. You lived a lifetime with them, that has to be fair. Right?

Every so often you’ll find yourself back there; that day the most visited of all the others. So many things happened that day, but you only get the end. The very end. Your last day. 

What’s that noise?


Was that your last day after all?

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