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Randomlifer – Chapter 2 – by lostandwhatever

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Continued from Chapter 1.

Day 0

“The Last Day”

Bored. I was bored. That’s it. That’s why I did it. Can you really blame me for wanting a change? Boredom is dangerous. Believe it or not, people have actually died of boredom. Or, at least, they died from the things they did when bored. I wonder if I’ll die because of what I did. I wonder if I even can die anymore.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, introductions.

My name is Alex Smith. That seems to be true most days now. It’s a nice anchor to hold onto as my life flows and crashes and eddies like an ocean on a stormy day. I am Alex Smith. Everything else is up for grabs.

I have lived two lives. Actually, I have lived many many lives, but there are two distinct periods of lives that I’ve lived. There are the ones I am lost in now, and the one I had before. Might as well start with the boring one from before. Here’s what I still remember.

I was Alex Smith, a 15 year old high school freshman. I lived an ordinary teenage life in an ordinary suburb. The street: ordinary. My house: ordinary. It even had a white picket fence. I was ordinary. I was average height, not fat, not ugly, not handsome either. I had a small group of close friends. We did not stand out. I was not particularly popular, but few people are. I got B’s in my classes. I did alright. Things were OK. I even had a crush on a girl at school. I never told her. That was a mistake. It’s a common mistake, though. If this story is worth anything, I hope I can express to you how important it is to make your life interesting in ordinary ways. Maybe asking out that cute person you have your eye on might change your life just the right amount. Give it a try. At the very least, you probably won’t be bored.

My last day of that life, Day 0, was suitably ordinary and boring. I woke up and emptied my bladder in the bathroom. I remember lingering in front of the mirror after washing my hands, just staring at myself. My mind went deep places. I remember that moment well, the whole morning, in fact. I felt confused. Have you ever really looked at yourself in the mirror and realized that you don’t actually recognize the person looking back at you? Yeah, of course, you know that that is your reflection. You see it all the time, but is that “you?” That hair color, the little freckle on your chin, the strange shape of your nose, the patterns of color in your iris: all of that is supposedly “you.” Yet, all of that changes. You grow older, your hair grows, pimples come and go, and little imperfections add on to each other endlessly. Your body is always changing. Do “you” change with it? If your body is different, does that make “you” different?

I had no answers, so I decided on getting breakfast, although the questions lingered in the back of my mind as I entered the kitchen. Most of the family was there already, and I was greeted by the sound of conversation and the smell of pancakes.

“Alex,” my mom said as she plated a couple of fresh pancakes. “Good, I was just about to shout for you. Breakfast’s ready. Eat up.”

“Thank you,” I said as I took my plate to the kitchen table. Casey and Morgan were there already enjoying their pancakes with syrup and strawberries. They were in the middle of an argument.

“I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just saying you’re getting fat,” Morgan declared as she poked a fork at her half eaten pancake.

“Am not,” mumbled Casey as he chewed. “I’m a growing boy.”

“Growing wider.”

“That’s muscle.” He took a proud bite. “You might know what that was if you weren’t such a shrimp.”

“I didn’t know that muscle made your belly bigger.”

“I’m 12 now. It’s a growth spurt.”

“Well, I’m 9, and even I know that growth spurts are supposed to make you grow up not sideways.”

“That’s enough, you two.” Mom stepped in to the conversation as she sat down to eat her own late, cooling meal. “Morgan apologize to your brother. There’s nothing wrong with his body.”

She grumbled and said, “Sorry.”

“Apology accepted,” Casey said and took another huge syrupy bite of pancake. Morgan rolled her eyes as he smiled and chewed, his mouth too stuffed to fully close.

I looked at both of them, and again that feeling of confusion returned. Who are these kids? I thought. It was true, Casey was growing, so was Morgan. They were getting huge. It seemed like only yesterday that they were babies in diapers and training pants who could barely string together 3 words. Now, there were two kids sitting here arguing and making jokes. They were both changing so much.

Then, I looked at my mom. I saw for the first time a few grey hairs on her head. How had I not noticed them before? Did they appear overnight? She was 40 now, after all. It was all downhill from here when it came to her looks. I wondered what she was like when she was younger and people called her Sam instead of Mom most of the time. I had seen pictures of her. She was objectively cute, but, naturally, I could never think of her that way. Dad obviously did.

And, as if on queue, he appeared in the kitchen as well, wearing a suit. Dad was also 40, though he looked a lot younger.

“I hope you saved me a couple,” Dad said as mom grabbed a plate for him from the counter. “Ah, yes! You are the best.”

“Enjoy,” she said and smiled. “But, don’t forget, you’re cooking tomorrow morning.”

“Of course, and I’ve got something special planned.”

“Should I be worried?” Mom asked. They both smiled at each other.

“You’ll love it.”

I thought about the two of them meeting in their twenties and falling in love, just Sam and Chris not Mom and Dad. I wondered if they missed those days before having kids.

“Something on your mind, Alex?” Dad asked me.

“What?” I said. I felt like I had been caught eavesdropping on my own family. Suddenly, I was pulled back into the present with them.

“You were staring,” Mom said. “And, you haven’t said more than two words since you came down. Is something wrong?”

“No. No, I’m fine,” I said, still feeling a bit confused. “I just feel… I dunno… kinda weird. I was just bored this morning, and I started looking at myself. Like, have you ever just looked at yourself in the mirror and just not recognized the guy staring back at you.”

“It’s a girl staring back at me,” Morgan said.

“That is a bit… weird,” Casey said. “I mean, you look like you. Right?”

I was at a loss for words.

“That’s part of growing up,” Mom explained. “You’re always changing. Most of the time you don’t notice it because it happens so slowly. Then, one day, your shoes don’t fit and your voice sounds different.”

“Maybe you need to read a little less and get out more,” Dad suggested. “You’re up in your own head too much. Go hang out with your friends more, break curfew for once.”

“Do not break curfew,” Mom said. “Just don’t think about it too much.”

“Right,” I said. “I’ll try.” I had nothing else to say, and anyway it was time to get ready for school.

***

Despite my best efforts to not think about it, my mind kept drifting back to it as the day went on. I was too bored with high school to really pay attention to what was going on around me most of the day. I wandered into one class after another. I was not quite asleep, but everything felt a bit dreamy and distant, like I was watching someone else’s story happening in front of me. I even started to narrate my own life in my head.

Alex picked up his backpack and headed for lunch. He hoped that the spaghetti would be less gross today than it was last week.

Even sitting at lunch with my friends, I just ate quietly as they all talked, lost in that feeling of confusion. Who am I? I thought. Who is Alex Smith? Am I just some random teen living out an ordinary life in some boring suburb? What is the point of any of this?

That cute girl walked by around then, the one I had a crush on. I almost spoke to her, but I felt a bit too confused to work up the courage. If only I had spoken to her…

By the end of the day, I was all too ready to get out of there. I remember saying goodbye to my friends and thinking, disappointedly, that the day had been the same as just about every other day that school year and that tomorrow would be just the same as well.

Oh, how wrong I was.

***

Sitting at my computer later, I logged into Mumblr. I wrote there occasionally, just to vent. I even tried writing fiction sometimes, mostly fantasy and sci fi stuff, occasionally fanfics. I liked disappearing into stories. That evening, I tried to put my confused feelings into words in a post. I kept deleting paragraph after paragraph, though. Nothing I wrote seemed to capture it. When I got tired of trying, this is what I published:

“Today I realized that I’m bored with my own face. Also, I wish my life would really change somehow. Everything is painfully ordinary. Somebody help.”

I scrolled around randomly trying to avoid starting on homework when I noticed an ad post. It said, “Bored? Does every day feel the same? Tired of seeing that same face in the mirror again and again? Do you wish your life would really change? Then, Randomlifer is your wish come true. When you sign up for Randomlifer, every day is a new adventure. Live a new life again and again. Click here for a free trial, and prepare for your life to change.”

At first, I thought it was a message sent directly to me. It was so oddly specific to what I had been thinking and writing. It appeared to be an actual ad though. I decided that it must be some kind of automatic ad tailored to me based on my posts and search history, my digital footprint reflected back at me. I put my browser in safe mode and clicked on it. Thankfully, my computer did not immediately die of a virus infection. The website looked oddly legit. It mainly said the same things that the ad said. It was vague on details though. For example, there was no explanation about how it would change my life. I tried to guess what it might do. Maybe it’s like a loot box subscription. They might send me… things. Maybe it’ll send me something to read everyday, like a newsletter for a new life. Maybe it will steal my identity and wreck my credit until I’m 70.

I clicked the free trial button, fully expecting an unsecured page for me to write in my credit card information, date of birth, social security number, and mother’s maiden name. Instead, there was a professional-looking and fully-secured page with an option to charge my PayFriend account.

I hesitated.

In hindsight, I should have just bookmarked the page and slept on the decision. I really wish I had.

But, I was bored.

I signed up. They sent me a nice confirmation e-mail that told me to expect my first change tomorrow, whatever that meant. I promptly put it out of mind and started on my homework. Later, I had my last meal of that life, my boring life, with my ordinary family. By that point, I was pretty tired from the day. I don’t even remember what it was that we ate, or what we said. Then, I went up to bed, I lay down to sleep, and my old life ended.

To be continued in Chapter 3

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