Wednesday 14 August 2019

What One Can Imagine

What One Can Imagine

By Jerry Guarino

fresh orange juice 

 Tony closed his eyes and listened to the cello music.  The rhythms contrasted nicely with the gentle waves outside his boat.  He felt a bite on his line.  A large fish.  Tony calmly set the hook and reeled him in.  When he took the fish off the hook, he noticed that he had a dozen large fish in a tub next to him.
            This might be my best day fishing.
            The weather was warm, with a gentle breeze.  Tony could see land not too far off.
            Hmm.  The Cape.  I better not go too far off, and get back to shore before dark.
            Tony was startled by a voice behind him. “Hello.”
            “Who are you?”
            “My name is Peter.”
            “What are you doing on my boat?”
            “I’m a fisherman too.  You don’t mind if I join you, do you?”
            “No Peter, just wondered how you got here.”
            “I’ve been here a long time.  Don’t you remember how you got here?”
            “I was having a bad dream and I died.”
            “That wasn’t a dream Tony.”
            “You mean, I’m dead?”
            “For now.  Why?  Didn’t you think your life was over?”
            “I’m only 36.  That’s not a full life.”
            “None of us know how long we will live.  My best friend died at 33.”
            “Is he here?”
            “Yes, you’ll meet him sometime.”
            “Who else is here?  People I know?”
            “I’m sure, but you won’t see them yet.”
            “Why not?”
            “Well, this may not be your final destination.”
            Tony glanced down at the water.  “You don’t mean?”
            “No, not there.  Sometimes we get visitors.  Some stay and some go back.”
            “Who decides?”
            “It’s kind of a group decision.  But your input is very important.”
            “I’m not the only one who chooses?”
            “No, there is someone who knows what’s best for you and for your friends and loved ones here and there.”
            “So why am I here now?”
            “Why do you think Tony?”
            “I don’t know.  I certainly couldn’t have imagined this happening.”
            “Imagination is a magnificent concept.  You can actually imagine anything.”      
            “But people back there will find my body, the accident.  How can that be undone?”
            “Time is irrelevant here.  We transcend time.  If you go back, the accident will never have happened?”
            “And if I stay?”
            “Well, then your time there will be over.”
            “I’ll never see my wife and kids again.  They will suffer greatly.”
            “You’ll see them when they come here.”
            “I don’t think I can live without them.  Why am I not crying?”
            “Sadness and pain doesn’t exist here.  You have transcended earthly emotions.”
            “Are you sure?  Maybe I’m just dreaming.”
            “No Tony.  This is really happening.  Look at this paper.”
            Peter showed Tony a newspaper with the story about his accident.
            “When was this?  How long ago?”
            “Tony, we don’t do time, remember?”
            “Oh yeah.  Well, I want to go back.  I have a lot to do in my life.”
            “You mean you haven’t been accomplishing everything?”
            “No, I thought I had plenty of…”
            “If you go back, you’ll have to do something for us.”
            “You should find some people who are wasting life, try to get them on the right track.  That’s a noble cause.  And of course, give more of yourself to your family.  You never know how much time you have with them.”
            “Of course, Peter.  I know that.  I’ll be more focused.”
            “That’s really the key Tony.  Focus.”
            “So, is it time?”
            Peter put his hand on Tony’s shoulder.  “Close your eyes Tony.  It’s time.”
            Tony closed his eyes and slept.  When he woke up, he was back in his bed.  He rubbed his eyes, then looked at his nightstand.
            “Alexa, play cello music.”  

About the author

Jerry Guarino’s short stories have been published by dozens of magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. His latest book, "The Best of Café Stories", is available on and as a Kindle eBook. He is an editor for Flash Fiction Magazine.
Please visit his website at

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