This one got rejected by a few places, but I still like the story. It probably just needed a better writer.
B y Ronald Cypress
There are some diseases that are destined to remain completely unknown to mankind. There are illnesses that will never be detected by any doctor throughout history. The silent plagues that often exist within an individual tend to stay veiled, never properly revealing themselves so that they may be diagnosed and handled. Sometimes you have to wonder about the amount of people who are out there alone and suffering from such a disease. Often they are diseases of the mind. A person appears to be completely normal, but there is something happening, and only they are aware of the disorder.
One such man was Philip Adams, a man who was never able to fully understand where his life began and where it would end. Everything was out of order for him. His whole life was there but in pieces; it was a massive puzzle that he would never completely figure out. One day he would wake up, a man of twenty, getting ready to head off to a college class. Then the next day, he would wake up as a man in his seventies, struggling to walk with a cane.
His whole life was going that way, a constant jumping around in time. Without a continuous linear flow, Philip never felt like he had a comprehension of just who he was or what his purpose was in life. He knew that he was always Philip Adams, but he was never able to truly understand himself. It was nearly impossible to do when the years kept altering.
Philip wasn’t aware of when he became cognizant of the fact that his life was not going in order. He didn’t know where he truly belonged. The usual routine was that he would go to sleep and wake up in a different time; still in his body but at a different age. He would wake up and have to grow accustomed to being in a completely different setting than he was the night before.
Philip’s memory was constantly murky. The realest memories for him were always of what had taken place the night before, but the night before was never truly the night before. It would never be that way as long as he was jumping around in time. When he woke up in a different time, Philip would sometimes try to make other people aware of what was happening. He would do so if he had the energy or capability.
There were times when he would go to sleep as a grown man, living on his own, and wake up as an infant. Philip was able to piece together the type of family he had been born into. He was the son of a rich couple. Philip knew that at the time of his birth his mother was in her mid-twenties and his father was a much older man. Philip could remember waking up as an infant one day. He had woken up in an incredibly tiny body that couldn’t do much; he wasn’t even able to talk. All Philip could do was make noises as his mother cradled him. That night, she placed him in a crib, where Philip could hear arguing going on outside of his bedroom. He fell asleep, and when he awoke Philip was a twenty-six year old man.
One of the first things he often did when he woke up was find some way to check the date. He knew what day he was born on, having looked at his driver’s license numerous times. For the most part Philip was usually able to figure out his age. At the age of twenty-six Philip was living alone in a single bedroom apartment. He worked at a company that experimented with different computers. Philip wasn’t sure about how long he had been working there. He had some vague memories of how he had gotten the job and things that had occurred up to that point.
He also remembered leaving the job, but that would come in the future. Philip had woken up at the age of thirty-four and he had received a phone call from the man who was his boss at the age of twenty-six. The boss had called to ask Philip if he would be interested in returning to the company. Philip couldn’t remember what had happened, but he knew that he had left the job on bad terms. Instincts told him to decline the offer, though Philip wondered if it would have an impact on his overall life.
Everything seemed to be set up for him, and he rarely felt like he was in control of what was happening to him. There wasn’t anything he could do to escape. One time, Philip had assaulted a man at a bar. Twenty-eight-year-old Philip had committed that crime. He had gone out that night to drink and ended up attacking a guy. Philip could easily recall the incident. After several drinks he had tried telling another patron at the bar about what was happening to him. The man didn’t seem to comprehend what was being said, so Philip attacked him.
They had locked him up and Philip had fallen asleep in jail. When he woke up, he was eighty-three years old.
There was no explanation for what was happening to him. Philip knew that he had spoken to a few people about his life. No one would believe him. The story was too far out there to be real. A man who lived out of order simply couldn’t exist. Philip tried to solve the puzzle himself, but there was too much instability for him to ever adeptly work on the issue. Perhaps something had happened to him or maybe he was just born with the syndrome.
A life out of order was barely a life.
Philip recognized that he was often melancholic and frustrated with the world around him. He could never fit in, even when it seemed like he was surrounded by people who knew him.
What do they know, he wondered.
Philip knew there were strong bonds in his life, but he could never remember how they had formed.
There was Linda, the woman he believed to be his first wife.
Philip was pretty sure that she was the first woman he had married. He wasn’t certain about how they had met or exactly how long they had been married. Philip knew that Linda was his wife by the time he was twenty-four, and the two had divorced before his thirtieth birthday. He couldn’t really figure out what he felt for her. She could have been a woman that he truly loved, or the whole marriage could have been a mistake. The times that Philip had found himself in her presence the two hardly communicated. He didn’t know what to say since he didn’t really know her. There were the vague memories, but those weren’t very reliable.
When she was gone, Philip tried to figure out what had happened. He asked a few people, but no one was willing to give him an answer. They acted as if he should have known what had gone wrong in the marriage, and for them there was no point in talking about it. Philip had to reflect hard on the end of his marriage to Linda. One of his vague memories was telling her that he had cheated on her. He couldn’t remember what the other woman had looked like, but there was a foggy mental image in his head. It showed him going to another woman, a woman whose name he could not recollect.
His relationship with Linda wasn’t the only thing that sporadically fell apart and repaired. Everything around Philip was presented in such a manner. There were his parents. Philip found out that they divorced when he was a young boy. He knew that his father would shortly remarry after the divorce. Philip’s stepmom was a woman younger than his mom. He only had a few clear days with her. The stepmom tried to be nice to him but was unable to get close.
Philip knew that no one would ever be able to get close to him. Some days, even his own mother commented on how distance he was to her. She said that it was like he mentally went to space and planted himself on another planet. Meanwhile, his body stayed behind, almost a vacuous essence. Philip didn’t have an answer for her. The woman barely felt like his mom, and she had no idea that her son was completely broken.
Philip realized that his entire life was literally broken.
He had been born one day—that was certain. Philip suspected that there were days in which he went to being a newborn baby, less than a month old, but he was unable to remember anything from those days. He had been born, and Philip realized that he survived to see ninety-six. That was the oldest age that he had seen. He had been lying on the bed, unable to lift himself from it. People had been around him. The most important person had been a gray-haired woman who said she was his daughter.
Philip remembered staring at her, feeling completely disconnected from the woman. She wasn’t his daughter. He didn’t have any real family. In his broken life, people were just passing events. They almost meant nothing to him. Philip stared at the woman who said she was his daughter, and he tried to remember who her mother was and when they had been together. The pieces weren’t there at the time.
A few days later, a thirty-five year old Philip was woken by a woman named Raquel. She woke him up and led him throughout the day. They were married and they had a daughter who was named Rachel. His daughter was a baby. Philip held her in his arms and he tried to remember more of her life. He tried to remember how he and the mother had met. The vague memories weren’t enough. He recalled meeting the mother at his job. Philip realized that he was working for another company that also tested experimental computers.
There was no attachment to his family, but he did find that there was some enjoyment in holding his daughter. He wanted to wake up the next day and be able to continue holding her. He wouldn’t be there. Philip tried to talk to his wife about how he felt. Raquel indicated that Philip had mentioned it to her before. He found out that he had said something about his previous employer being responsible for his sickness. Philip couldn’t remember making such a statement, but it made him wonder.
That night he sat in the living room, trying to stay awake throughout the night. Philip hoped that would be a solution to his problem. He would stay awake and make it to the next day; the real next day that was meant to follow. Philip tried but a strong force overcame him at midnight. He couldn’t stop himself from falling asleep. Sleep took him and he didn’t awake until the next morning.
The following morning, he was thirteen years old and being lectured by his mother because he had been skipping school. She threatened to tell his father, who had already left, if he continued his truancy. Philip didn’t know how she had found out that he had been skipping school. He didn’t even know why he had been abandoning his classes. Philip walked to the school that day and hooked up with guys he assumed were his friends. They went to a few classes before leaving school to go to an arcade.
Philip knew that there had to be something that would help him. There had to be an explanation and a cure out there waiting for him. When he was adult, he would make an effort to look for an answer. There wasn’t one on the internet. No one around could explain why his life was scrambled. Sometimes, as an adult, he was too old to care about the problem or anything else. When he was in his sixties, Philip received a phone call from Rachel, his daughter. It was Christmas Eve and she was calling to check on him. She was at her mom’s house and she wouldn’t get to see him during the holidays. Philip didn’t have much to say. He didn’t know what to say.
He wished her a merry Christmas, even though he wasn’t too familiar with how Christmas worked. Aside for a few, most of his Christmas memories were vague. One clear Christmas memory came from when he was five. His parents had given him a large amount of toys, and Philip could remember the disappointment on their faces when he behaved stoically after receiving all of them.
They couldn’t get through to him. His own parents didn’t know their boy was shattered.
There were some times that Philip would feel depressed over how his life would inevitably go until he no longer existed. There were also times that he had hope. Along with a small hope that the time jumping might one day stop and his life would begin to flow the way it was supposed, there was also the fear that his life would never end. Philip worried that not only did his life go out of order, but it would be an endless cycle.
He had found himself on what could have been considered his death bed, but there was the possibility that his life wasn’t close to ending. Philip believed he had seen signs that he was passing on. When he was in his eighties, Philip had found himself being attended to by a strange man. He knew that the man regularly attended to him. Philip couldn’t remember his name, but the man was from a mysterious company. Something had happened and the man had been assigned to be an aid.
Philip remembered that he had been able to get around and that the aid hadn’t been there to help him with anything physical. The man was there for another reason, but Philip didn’t know why. While he was with Philip, the man had given him a shot and checked Philip’s vitals several times. The man was only in his life for that one clear day. Philip wondered if the aid had been a part of the conspiracy; he was sure that there was a conspiracy. The more he lived his twisted life the more convinced he became that someone had distorted his life. There was no way that he could have been born with the disease. Something had been done to him, and Philip began to suspect that his former employer had done something to him.
At the age of twenty-seven, Philip found himself being taken to work. He sat down in front of a strange model. Somewhere in his mind, Philip had knowledge of what the model represented. It was a model of a machine; something that he had worked with for the company that employed him. There was something special about the machine, but Philip couldn’t figure it out as he sat and stared at the model. A colleague stopped by his work area and congratulated him on the progress he was making. Philip thanked him but he didn’t know what the guy was talking about. He couldn’t remember making any progress. He stayed at work that day, not getting much done or figured out. He went home that evening and waited until the time came to fall asleep.
The next day he was eight years old. Philip awoke with sense of sorrow in the air, but he couldn’t remember what had happened. It wasn’t until his parents sat down with him in the afternoon and talked to him about a friend of his that had passed away. Her name had been Mary, and they had been in the same third grade class. She had been killed in a car accident. Philip knew that they had been very close, practically best friends. He would have felt the overwhelming sadness that was necessary if he could remember what it had been like to be with her. Maybe there was another Philip who knew the true poignancy of that pain. There could be a Philip out there who had his life together. Maybe he had already lived and died. What was happening to him now was part of the afterlife. It was just life all over again, out of order and without clarity.
Forty-two-year-old Philip spent some time in a mental hospital. Philip awoke there one day. He demanded that someone explain why he was being held there, but no one would give him a veritable answer. The only thing they would say was that he had threatened himself. Philip didn’t know if he should believe them or not. He didn’t fully remember threatening to hurt himself. There were vague memories of screaming at someone. He thought the person had been his wife, Raquel, but he couldn’t remember. At the end of the day, Philip just accepted that he was in a hospital.
The next day would bring some freedom.
Each day brought something new.
Philip thought that could be the plan. He could have done something himself to stop the monotony of a normal life. That monotony was more appealing when compared to how he felt in his cluttered life. Just a solid week of continuity would be like heaven to him.
Sixteen-year-old Philip was involved in a car crash. He knew it was going to happen but he couldn’t stop it. He still got into the car with a couple of friends and went speeding around in the night. His car crashed and he was knocked unconscious. The sixty-seven-year-old he awoke as had some memories of the accident—they were more vague ones. Philip believed that one of his passengers had been killed in the accident and the other one suffered from permanent damage. He was the only one who would be able to leave the hospital a few days after the accident took place.
The memory was cloudy, but Philip remembered a man telling him that he should be grateful. He had damaged two lives, but would still have his. The guy was bitter. He told Philip that there was nothing he could do to fix the losses. That was how life went. You couldn’t go back in time and repair anything that you badly damaged. Philip figured the statement had made some impact on him.
He had vague memories of what he wanted to work on. Philip recalled some information on the machine he had worked on. People couldn’t go back in time and fix what was wrong. Once history was set in, it couldn’t be undone. Philip knew that, but he remembered that he had still tried. Eventually, he would get back to that big day. Something had happened to him, leaving him broken. Philip wanted the chance to fix it, but there was no way to tell when that day would come.
Philip hoped that it was something he had done, but there was always the chance that it had been with him from birth. He had been born with it and he would perish with the disease. That would be the worst possibility. If it his dilemma was manmade, then there surely had to be a way to mend it. Philip would have to hold on to hope that he would figure it out eventually; either he would figure it out or cease to live. No life could go on forever, and he knew that one day his distorted existence would be remedied by death if nothing else came along and mended it.
It was a hard truth to face, but Philip found comfort in understanding that’s how it was for all.