I visited my parents over the holidays. They’re in the process of selling the house so they can move into a sixty-and-over community, so it was the last time we would be celebrating inside of my childhood home.
They’re tossing out a lot of stuff since they won’t have as much room in the new place, so they asked me to sort through boxes to see if there was anything I wanted to keep. I accepted some stuffed animals that were in good enough shape to be passed down to my daughter (who was kicking away in my stomach) and a stack of video games that I could probably get a decent price for at a gaming store.
The craziest thing I found was an old, crumpled storybook I created when I was in elementary school. It was one of those makeshift projects, stapled at the edges. Not even important enough to get laminated or placed between a hardcover. The title page said WHAT MY LIFE WILL BE LIKE WHEN I’M OLDER.
All of the lefthand pages contained drawings. A 10 with flowers wrapped around the zero. An 11 made out of worms. A 12 surrounded by brightly colored balloons. On the righthand pages, there were short stories to go along with each number.
At first, I thought the pages were recounting things that had already happened to me because they were 100% accurate. But once I reached age 15, it was still accurate. It mentioned my first broken heart. It named my crush and everything.
“When was this made?” I asked my mother. The stick figures and scribbles looked like they came from someone just learning how to hold a crayon, but if there was a story about my teenage heartbreak, it must’ve been written later.
“Back in 1995. Maybe 96. You were pretty young. I remember getting a phone call from the teacher about it. There was something in there that upset her.”
I shook my head. “That doesn’t make any sense. Did I… Did I add to it every year? Like a diary?”
“No. It was just a fun little project about what you wanted your future to look like. You must’ve been a good guesser. You know, your great grandmother was a psychic. Bunch of bullshit if you ask me, but who knows? Maybe it got passed down to you. We’ll head to Vegas this weekend to test it.”
She chuckled, making a joke out of it, but I kept flipping pages. It guessed the year my childhood dog died. The year my husband proposed. The year I became pregnant.
I was sick to my stomach by the time I reached the final page with the final number. All of the previous pages showed me stories about my past, but this next page would be a glimpse into the future. It would show the age I would be turning in a few months.
At first, my face lit up. The page contained a drawing of a baby swathed in pink, a miniature version of myself with blue eyes and blonde hair and a piggish nose. But then I saw what was in the background. A gravestone with my name and the date of my daughter’s birth.