It’s been three days now. I, barely, recognize my reflection. My 67 year old body sags much less than yesterday. Facial spots are fading. Hair is deepening from gray to brown and baldness is full retreat. The five alarm chili I ate last night didn’t keep me awake. When I read the incantation 72 hours ago, the spell promised no permanent effects unless I wanted them. As it pledged, I was getting younger, stronger and fitter.
When I went for my Wednesday T-Bone, Heather, my usual server at the steakhouse, drew closer and, even, sat down with me “to watch me chew.” She stroked my arm and my shoulder and, while I hadn’t been on the receiving end of that in a long time, I knew she was unusually friendly. I couldn’t believe it and she was shocked when I ordered rare and not my usual medium well. She said something about “getting your growl on.”
Lifting weights, I pressed 150 pounds above normal. I could have done more but I was still thinking like an old man and afraid I would hurt myself. A petite red-head singled me out in the gym and asks, “Can you spot for me?” I chalk it up to my being the oldest one there and, compared to all those younger guys, she thinks I am her safest choice. The thing is, I wasn’t feeling so safe now.
The mirror, this morning, verified the promise of the letter. Read the incantation and in three days you will look younger and be stronger than you can imagine.
The instructions came in the envelope without a return address.
- “By dusk of the third day, you will mail this letter to the top name on the list of names below.”
- “You must add a name to the list.”
- “Don’t add a name if you don’t want the effects of the spell to be permanent. If you don’t add a name you will revert to the way you were the day you received the letter. When you add the name and mail it, the effects will be irreversible.”
- “If you don’t mail the letter, you will die.”
There was more but, that’s what mattered.
One way or another, I had to be to the post office in four hours.
I need to think, so I go for a walk but the sun hurts my skin and my mind swirls with thoughts of my first steak tartare, seasoned with everything except garlic. My walk changes to a jog, then to a run, until I am sprinting faster than I ever had.
I speed back to the house, address the envelope, add a name to the letter and slow just a bit when I catch my reflection going into the post office. I figure it would be the last time I would see me for a long time.
In the meantime, watch your mailbox.
Tim Philippart sold his business, retired to explore, write and discover. He ghost blogs, writes poetry, nonfiction and an occasional magazine piece. He loves writing and wishes he had not waited decades to pick up the pen. He sees baseball as a metaphor for…. Oh, he’s sorry. firstname.lastname@example.org.