I observed a glow in my right hand a week ago Wednesday, and it only continues to brighten. Here I am, anxiously hoping and thinking back to every conceivable idea as to what may have caused it, and I’ve got nothing. It’s unclear. I read on the internet, and I can’t find anything. I look in my kid’s middle-school science book, and there’s even less. I consider asking my superstitious mother-in-law, Edith, but remember that she spews more hot air in her harebrained theories than I can possibly stomach in one sitting. What have I done? Is it something that I’ve consumed…? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s something that I’ve been exposed to? Could it be radiation? Oh, God… I hope not. Or, wait, I’ve got it… I changed my car battery in the rain about two weeks ago with a butter knife and no gloves. That’s got to be it. I whack myself in the forehead, just trying to fathom what kind of idiot would do such a thing and then realize that it’s contagious. I start to see a glow just above my eyeline. I’m reassured deep within myself, that in spite of my stupidity, that’s not the origin of my glow either. Things that glow… things that glow… fireflies… glow sticks, God knows my daughter loves those… newlyweds, Timex watches in indigo, or neon purple. Man, I loved those. Still, nothing concrete is materializing in my mind on what’s causing me to glow… Maybe it’s something else. I once cracked a cell phone and poured out what I thought was some kind of liquid, but that was years ago. Surely, it would have taken effect sooner. Man, I’m running out of ideas here. Suddenly it dawns on me for a moment… the source of the glow on my hands and now on my forehead. All I can do is rub the generally empty, balding canyon on top of my round, oversized gourd as I ponder… what was his name? I can’t remember anymore. I come around the corner and look in the mirror and see my ugly mug. I turn the light switch off. All I see is… my right hand, a five-finger shaped section on the front of my forehead, and now a substantial portion of the top of my head all radiating a translucent blue color. Come on now! Give me a sign… something to help trigger that man’s name. I had gone into a convenience store just off Highway 90. There was a neighboring laundromat attached to the same building and a… a…. Oh my gosh! I’ve blanked out again... Good grief, what can I do to jog my memory? Should I drive back to the store? Maybe that’ll do it for me. Okay, fine. I’m walking to the car... right now. I reach across my body awkwardly, fumbling in my left pocket to pull out my keys. My hand must be pouring out something contagious because now my pocket even screams with a bluish hue. I insert the key in my riddled car’s ignition and throw the stuck gearshift into reverse with force. There’s that annoying squeal again. I don’t know if it’s serpentine or turpentine belt, but at this point, I don’t really care anymore. I’m not spending any more time in this rolling death trap. That’s exactly what it is. I exit my generally uninteresting neighborhood and drive my morning commute to the east. As I roll down the big hill just west of town, I see the metropolis twenty-four miles further ahead as the glow of the sun shines just behind the lackluster skyscrapers. There’s that word again, glow. Ugh… I can’t get it out of my head. I pull into the station and yank my gearshift into park with growing anger. Even it is now glowing too. I am downright agitated. I climb out of the car and tug on the store’s door handle. It’s almost rusty. How much do I pay per gallon every single time that I stop here? Can’t they afford to replace something as simple as a measly handle? What do I know? I enter and am greeted rather flatly by a clerk. I think he said, “Hey, man.” He might not have said anything at all. He definitely didn’t look up at me. It’s hard to tell. The grunge music inside the store is too loud. There’s no one else in there, well, almost no one else, other than the fly I saw on the window and a roach that ran across the floor behind the candy aisle. I can’t even hardly fathom how unsanitary these places are. I try not to think about it. They might as well put a drain in the middle of each aisle and say “urinate here” because I’m sure public restrooms in most other places are about just as clean. Back to the glow, back to the glow, Jeff… Why am I glowing…? Maybe if I go back to the items I purchased while I was in here, I’ll remember. I’m wondering if the fluorescent lights are masking how much I’m glowing right now because the guy at the register barely acknowledged me. Or, maybe he knows something that I don’t. Should I go ask him? No way. I’m not going to do that. I don’t want him to think I’m some neurotic weirdo. Too much time exploring this mind by someone that I don’t even know isn’t healthy for them or for me. I read somewhere that the greatest cause of anxiety is by the uncertainty of other people. I’m sure all that my questions would do is add even more uncertainty to the poor high school dropout’s, drug-riddled mind. Gosh. I’m so bad thinking this way. I shouldn’t be stereotyping. Why can’t I just offer more people a helping hand? Crud. Of course, I can’t. My one working hand is glowing, and if I did offer to help, they’d probably soon be glowing too. That’s what it was, I’m fairly certain. My helping hand… Why didn’t I think of that before? I reached into the thirty-eight degree, glass drink case and pulled out a Sprite. Tastes and smells always trigger my memory best. I open the lid to the bottle. It’s not as cool, temperature-wise, as I’d like it to be. I walk up to the counter. Here I go again, awkwardly reaching across my body into my left pocket and pulling out my loose change to pay. My other hand has gone numb and doesn’t work anymore. The clerk won’t make eye contact with me. I’m bound to look hideous or unsettling at the least if he can see the glow. I walk back outside and then I see the man from last Wednesday again. It’s the same one that I’d seen last week before I had the glow. I walk towards him, and he smiles. He is entirely aglow. I struggle to find the words. Nothing’s been the same since the accident. Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to remember… the accident. I was connecting the jumper cables to the battery in this man’s car in the rain that night. He wasn’t of any help. He just stood there idle and watched, but he had a definitive and a distinct glow. I don’t know why and I couldn’t hear it over the pitter-pattering raindrops as they drenched me effortlessly falling from the sky. I lurched under the hood of the car and was ungrounded just long enough for the bolt to strike. It hit the battery terminal and it ran right through my right hand. For some strange reason, I went out of my body and hovered just above, watching myself fall to the ground. The man didn’t offer to help. He looked up in the air and smiled. It was all too much for me to bear. My world went black. I woke up in a hospital, or at least I think it was. There was no next of kin or family around, and the doctors and nurses seemed to forget about me altogether. The guy must have turned me in and looted my wallet while he was at it. I’m back in the moment with him now. I shouldn’t let my mind race that way. He’s not talking to me, only smiling and beckoning me towards him. I’m not ready to follow him because I’m convinced this man is the cause of my glow. If I hadn’t been a Good Samaritan, I might not be in this predicament. I can’t think that way, though. How selfish of me. I’m just sitting here pondering on my existence and starting to realize that the man with the glow wanted me all along. I’ve got it now. He didn’t even have to say a word. He’s the grim reaper, and it’s time for him to move on. He must have watched me for a while and decided that I’m to be the next one. I’m not ready to take that step, to follow in his footsteps. I’d rather just be the man with the glow a while longer and let him do the rest, and that’s when I realize that there’s no longer a point to my quest. I’m already dead. He gave me a week to get my bearings, and now it’s time for me to carry on...
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