• Xanadu Literary Magazine

James Reilly


I sit in class. A Tuesday. Wondering what the teacher is saying, but not caring. I think of myself and my classmates, enjoying the collective complacency of the room. One word sifts through the clouds of my daydream: soon.

I looked around, surveying these creatures of both presentiment and anticipation, they’re ready. We are ready. We can create. We can destroy. How frightening a concept. I fear for the safety, the boundaries, the legacy of those before us. I fear for the legacy we will leave.

Someday we will understand.

Seizing The day

At the back table of a Dunkin Donuts I sat, thinking. Thinking about the homework, quizzes, dittos, and tests in my week to come. I hear the door creak open and turn to face it. A man, with an omnipresent shadow of a grin on his face, shuffled in. He appeared to be in his early seventies, though he could’ve been much older. I knew him, though ask me how and I couldn't say. He just had that kind of face. There was something entertaining about the way he walked, steady but with a practiced swagger. I watched as he approached the counter and ordered a black coffee. His voice reminded me of my grandfather. At least I think it did, it's been too long since I've heard it. He let out a weathered sigh and sat down. As I went back to my work, I realized my gaze had lingered too long. My rugged comrade had noticed my distracted grin and matched it. His eyes had history hidden behind them, they had a knowing glean as if they had seen too much but were yet to be satisfied. He kept perfect eye contact as he advised me: “never stop smiling, smiling is how you stay young.” As he finished his statement, he winked with a vintage charm. I just looked back at my coffee in silence and took the last sip. I returned to my chemistry equations to realize my pen had died. Having reached exhaustion of spirit and resources, I got up to leave. My new old friend suddenly stood up and matched my stride. He said to me as he grabbed my shoulder: “Remember to enjoy life, always seize the day while you can, it'll all be over before you know it .” I thanked him for the advice with a grateful grin and shook his hand.

Later that night, I fell asleep on top of my fifth hour of homework. I woke up in the morning with half my work done. Frantic. As I grabbed another cup of coffee I managed to catch the headline of the Times. It read LOCAL MILLIONARE DIES AT 92 with no picture. Just a description that seemed eerily familiar. I like to think that the man I had seen in dunkin was the same guy. I don't really know. But for some reason I felt more relaxed than I had in quite a while.

Maybe in the relatively short lives we live, we need to live more than we do. Maybe we should worry less about how our resumes look and more about living our lives. I knew in that moment that enjoying life is hard when you're sole objective is to be tenth in the class and a achieve that whopping 2200 SAT. I knew that life will be miserable for us if we don't begin to focus on life itself. I knew that what our generation needs is to take care of ourselves before taking standardized tests. I knew that the “Carpe Diem Man” in Dunkin was right. I also knew that I was late for first period and my history teacher wouldn't be pleased.

I dismissed this epiphany, as most of us will. It is an easy thing to know but a harder thing to do. Somehow that man did it, I hope somehow we will too.

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