That first day of school, he realized aloud: “Each person is unique.” Mrs. Freytag smiled, incredulous—that was to be her lesson for October!
When ten, a week before Grandma passed, he realized one should not take life for granted. Soon after, he realized what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. At high school graduation, while everyone cheered, he realized life would never be so easy again.
Word got out. In college, he became famous, something he’d seen a mile away. An interviewer asked, “Do you know you can’t get everything you want?” The boy would have laughed, had he not long ago realized that pride preceded a fall.
Onwards, through those anxious, transitory twenties. So many ways he spared himself misery by understanding things in comfortable advance. He dodged drugs. Credit card debt loans. Ill-advised relationships due to pregnancy or sentimentality.
At his thirtieth birthday party, he was introduced to his future mate. Of course, he knew immediately she was The One, if only for the next phase of life.
At forty, he foresaw his child not remaining little forever.
At fifty, a concern: Had everything dawned on him?
“What’s wrong?” his wife asked, keeping distance as he knew she would.
He might have said, “Don’t know” if he’d not realized moments before the danger of complacency. Still, it was a close call. He took comfort in a long-established insight—tomorrow was a brand new day.
Years later, alone in his garden, he looked up from the book he was finishing, stunned to realize how sad it was to have known all beforehand. He massaged his throat. Studied the plump shrubs that lined his yard. God, those febrile cries, the thundering apocalypse of hooves. Nothing, he understood too late, could keep the enemy from thrashing through at every side.
Michael Cocchiarale is the author of the novel None of the Above (Unsolicited, 2019) and two story collections–Here Is Ware (Fomite, 2018) and Still Time (Fomite, 2012). His creative work appears online as well, in journals such as Fictive Dream, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and The Wild Word.