This piece was inspired by a prompt on Reddit, I also posted this piece there but figured I’d share it here as well.
The prompt is as follows: Everyone has their ultimate ability which once used cannot be used again for at least 20 years. Using it at the most fitting times is important. (Reworded it to make it easier to understand, if you want to write a piece from this prompt too be sure to let me know as I’d love to read it)
I glanced at my watch, just 10 more minutes. Some opportunities only come once in a lifetime, I was one of the lucky ones. I knew what to expect and I wanted to make it count. Some people never use it again, some abilities you wouldn’t want to use again. Sandra the Stretcher was a great example, I wouldn’t want arms as long as hers and I don’t think she wanted them either.
9 minutes. It’s like being a child all over again. Funnily enough 9 was the age I first used my ‘Ultimate’ as we call them. Now, at 29, I had a second chance to make it worthwhile. “Stop looking at your watch.” It was Carla, my girlfriend, if there was one person in the world I trusted to share this moment with me it was her. “Sorry,” I replied. “I want to get the timing just right though.” I glanced up at the moon. The sky was clear, honestly it couldn’t have been any more perfect for what I had planned.
Our voices echoed across the beach, it was empty. Most of the time I wouldn’t have thought much of it but with 8 minutes until the New Year I thought more people would have been out. I put my arms around Carla and pulled her in close, she was tense. “You still haven’t told me what it is,” she whispered.
“All part of the surprise,” I replied as I kissed her cheek softly. Just 7 more minutes now.
I closed my eyes and went back to the day I first used it. New Year, midnight. I thought it would be clever to use it back then, part of me wishes I had waited. I was with a girl that night too, she was 6, the little sister of one of my friends and thinking about it I think her reaction was pretty appropriate.
Only 6 more minutes. There are some things in life which I am truly grateful for. Getting a second chance to use my ultimate is probably one of them. The past 2 years I’ve been counting down the days to this moment, much to Carla’s annoyance. She used her ultimate on her 5th birthday, apparently having knowledge of the coming 30 seconds takes all the fun out of opening birthday presents. She hasn’t used it since.
A burst of light lit up the sky suddenly. Fireworks, someone is a little bit keen. Still 5 minutes left. “Remember our first date?” I asked her. It was certainly a date she would never forget. We came to this very same beach and bought ice cream together, everything was going well until a stray football smacked her in the back of the head. 2 hours in hospital was followed by a week of me visiting her house with ice packs and chocolate. She smiled as we reminisced, 4 years together and so many memories.
Another minute had passed, just 4 remained. I wondered what Carla would say, whether it would be as magical as I imagined it would be. Thoughts rushed through my mind at 100 miles per hour, my mind was a motorway and Carla was at the centre of it all.
I walked with her to the shop where we bought the ice creams on our first date. It was closed, obviously, but the sign still read ‘Ian’s Ices’ in big blue letters just as it did all those years ago. I grew up in this town and made sure to visit the beach as often as I could. I knew the owner, he watched me grow from a boisterous little boy into a mature and reasonable adult.
3 minutes. It felt like an eternity. I had been bouncing off the walls of our apartment like a child all day just waiting to take Carla out for this one magical moment. This would be my final time using my ultimate, 2 times was more than enough.
The final 120 seconds, 2 minutes, 0.03 hours. My mind was in overdrive, if you asked for my name I wouldn’t have had a clue what to say. Not knowing what to say was my speciality, especially when it came to rhetorical questions. I had a terrible habit of answering them and it was never the answer they wanted to hear. “Would you speak to your mother that way?” Mrs Norris’ voice echoed. The correct answer is to not say anything, I know that now. Apparently telling her I would do it any day of the week and twice on Sunday is considered backchat and is not appreciated in school. That was my 1 and only detention. I avoided speaking my mind after that.
The home stretch, the final minute. Nothing is more agonising than watching the seconds tick by, counting the seconds until my ultimate would be available once more. Half way there. 30, 29… The distant sound of a car radio counting down the seconds joined my mental countdown. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… This is it.
I took Carla’s hand and looked her in the eyes. “Carla, I’ve never been that great at speaking my mind but for the next minute allow me to tell you some of the wonderful things that I’ve thought but never said.” I took a deep breath. “When we first met I told you my favourite colour was green. I said that because when I looked into your eyes they were the most perfect green I had ever seen.” Her cheeks began to redden and her lips spread into a smile. “If I could wake up guaranteed one thing for the rest of my life, it would be to see you smiling next to me.” I took a half step back and bent one knee before her.
“Carla, these past 4 years have been incredible and I wouldn’t change a single minute of it, even if I did stand you out in the cold for 10 minutes just for this moment.” The soft sound of fireworks in the distance created a perfect background noise, just as I had hoped. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small box, Carla put her hand over her mouth and I lifted the lid. “So Carla, I’ve got one question for you, will you marry me?” She nodded quickly, I could tell she was speechless as I slipped the ring onto her finger. The perfect proposal, at the second time of asking.