“I found mail!” Denise giggled. The blonde 6-year-old pulled an old, yellowing letter out of the oversized army jacket she wore. Dennis, her grandfather and namesake, sat up in his recliner with interest. He’d given her permission to go through some of his old things. He thought he checked everything carefully but the letter surprised him.
“Hold on there, soldier,” he said using his stern, military voice. “I need to make sure there’s no classified information on it,” Dennis said. He held his palm out to wait for her to give him the letter. He was more concerned about her accidentally reading something too adult for her young eyes, than any classified secrets. He didn’t immediately recognize the letter and considered it might have been from an old flame.
Denise gave a messy salute, then placed the letter in his hand. Dennis loved babysitting her because of how easy she was. He didn’t know if she was his favorite grandchild because of her temperament; or, if he had an easier time because she was his favorite. In the end, it didn’t matter. Out of his seven grandkids, Denise was the only one that visited with any regularity.
Dennis looked at the letter and found it addressed to him, from him. A vague memory sparked to life in the back of his mind and he chuckled.
“I know what this is,” he said with a smile. He leaned back on the recliner and patted his lap. Denise climbed on while Dennis pulled out the letter. “A long long time ago I wrote a letter to my future self; and, here I am in the future,” he said with a broad smile. “Wanna see what little me had to say?” he asked.
“Yes!” Denise nodded eagerly. Dennis took his time unfolding the letter, then putting on his reading glasses.
“Dear future me… you’re old! HA HA HA,” he read dryly with a shake of his head. Denise couldn’t help but giggle. “But, seriously…,” he continued. “Everything changes tomorrow. I’m actually a little bit nervous.”
“Oh no…,” Denise grabbed her grandpa’s free hand and squeezed it for comfort. “You’re okay,” she said.
“I am,” he replied with a smile, then he focused on the letter again. “Jake and the guys think I’m worrying over nothing, but I don’t know.”
“Who’s Jake?” Denise interrupted.
“Ohhhh, he’s an old old friend. I almost don’t remember him anymore. We lost touch during the war…,” Dennis replied. The truth was he couldn’t remember anyone by that name. But, it wasn’t an important detail and Denise wouldn’t know the difference. He didn’t feel like venturing too far into past. Mostly because he couldn’t remember much of it. He resumed reading.
“I don’t know. It’s only natural to be scared of the unknown. Even if other people do it all the time, it’s new to me. I hope by the time I’m you, I can say I had a good time.” Dennis put his arm around Denise and pulled her closer; he was confident that he did indeed have a good time. At least, after the war.
“But, speaking of good times. The real reason for this letter is very important. They say it’s impossible to forget…,” Dennis couldn’t help but nod. Some of the things he saw, and did, during the war would never be forgotten. “…but nothing is foolproof. And I’m sure you know what a fool we are.” Denise burst into giggles.
“FOOOL!” she shouted. Dennis chuckled and kept reading.
“So, I’m writing this to remind you in case we forget. It’s not…,” Dennis stopped reading aloud. He continued to scan the letter.
“It’s not what, grandpa?” Denise asked. The polite girl even waited for a few seconds of silence before she interrupted. Dennis shook his head and gave her a big smile.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Dennis said. “Someday you’ll have a beautiful, wonderful grandchild that you love more than all the others. The end,” he said aloud without taking his eyes off hers.
“Little you was boring, grandpa,” Denise giggled. “Is it lunchtime yet?” Dennis nodded.
“Yeah. But, go change. We’re going out for pizza,” he said. Denise jumped off his lap in a flash and dashed out of the room while screaming.
“PIIIIIIIZZZZZAAAAAAaaa!” Dennis watched her leave the room and waited for a few moments. Then, he stood up from his chair, leaving the letter behind. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. After a long exhale, he spoke.
“Slate,” he said. It was a word he’d said probably dozens if not hundreds of times in his 75 years; but, this time there was a different intention behind it. A transparent glass pane appeared and hovered in the air in front of him. It displayed a wide variety of info about him but the thing that stood out the most was a round, red-glowing button on the bottom corner. It said [Logout]. Dennis began to weep as he realized what the letter said was true.
“It’s not real…”