Directing Death

“LAST CALL!” Anna’s mother yelled through the door and gave it three solid knocks. “Birthday or not, you’d better not miss your first day!” She pounded the door once more, then her footsteps traveled down the hall away from Anna’s door.

Normally, the now 18-year-old woman would have been out of the bed by the third knock. However, this morning she remained buried under the covers and stared up at the ceiling. Her mind seemed stuck on something, but she was not sure what yet. After several silent minutes, she took in a deep breath, then relaxed on the exhale.

“It must’ve been a dream,” she said to herself, then sat up. “All… five…. or six times.” She gave her head a shake to refocus, then got out of bed to start her day. Several hours later, she sat in her highschool’s courtyard with her friends.

“Who’s that?” Charlie asked; he pointed at a male student dressed in black aiming a video camera at them. Two of Anna’s friends shrugged, but the birthday girl blurted out a name.

“Maxwell,” she said.

“Is there a reason your good friend Maxwell is filming us?” Susan asked. Anna shook her head.

“We’re not friends. I don’t even how I knew his name,” she said. Her friends laughed, but fortunately, the bell rang before they could give her too much of a hard time over it.

During Anna’s walk home after school, the black-clad student approached her. He held the camera up, a bright red light on the front of it informed her he was already filming.

“Hi, I’m Maxwell,” he said from behind the camera. Anna ignored the camera and kept her attention facing forward.

“Why are you filming me, Maxwell,” Anna asked. She felt like she should introduce herself too; but, for some reason, she actively decided against it this time. “This time?” her decision sparked a stray thought; Maxwell’s introduction felt as familiar as her mother’s wakeup call from that morning.

“I’m making a movie about a beautiful woman. It could be you,” he replied. The corners of his mouth stretched out from behind the camera as he grinned. “What’s your name?” he asked.

I knew his name already. He has to know mine,” Anna’s realization made her uneasy. “So you’re saying I could be beautiful?” Anna asked with a cold tone. “Thanks so much for the generous compliment.”

“No no no!” Maxwell was quick to correct her. “You are beautiful! I just meant it might be you in my movie. What’s your name?” he asked again. Anna sped up her pace slightly.

“It seems like I already am in your movie,” She turned and glared at the camera. “Without my permission,” she said, then looked forward again.

“What? This?” Maxwell gestured at the camera with his free hand but continued to record. “This is just b-roll to practice editing. The movie’s a tragic highschool romance. Hot girl, you, and awkward loner, me, have a flash love affair over 5 days. Then it ends with a fatal car accident,” he said. Anna’s steps faltered, and she almost tripped. She stumbled for a couple of paces before she found her balance again, then she stopped walking and looked at Maxwell.

“What did you say?’ she asked. “How does it end?” His grin grew wider.

“I have this awesome car crash planned with a semi and everything. It’ll be hard to pull off, but we’ll just keep trying until we get it right. It’s gonna be super cinematic. What’s your name?”

“Elma,” she lied.

“Did you say Anna?” he asked and tilted his ear toward her as if he hadn’t heard her right. She stopped walking and turned to face him.

“I KNEW it!!” she said. “You already know my name because I already knew yours!  What the hell is going on? I died in a car accident last night, and today it’s five days ago!” the words flowed out with her confusion and anger. The more she screamed at him, the more Maxwell lowered the camera; by the end of her rant, the camera was by his side pointing at the sidewalk.

“You… you remembered?”

“YES!” she shouted “WHAT THE FU-” Anna blinked.

“LAST CALL!” Anna’s mother yelled through the door and gave it three solid knocks. “Birthday or not, you’d better not miss your first day!” She pounded the door once more, then her footsteps traveled down the hall away from Anna’s door. 

Anna stared at the ceiling; her mind was foggy. She felt off, but did not know what was wrong.

“You remembered…,” A male voice said from beside her. Anna yelped and whirled her head around. She saw a strangely familiar stranger sitting on her computer chair. He wore all black clothes and had a video camera resting on his lap.

“M..Maxwell?” she asked.

“…we need to talk.”

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