Short Story: Meet Nicole Who Has Almost Died Three Times Today

2-StepMiniStool_lMeet Nicole. She is 24-years-old. She has a full-time job, but always has time for a bike ride. She loves her cat, Whiskers and enjoys anything written by Arthur C. Clark.

Today is Friday the 14th of September and Nicole has almost died three times today, an issue she is completely unaware of. The timing wasn’t right. She narrowly missed the drunk driver. Her split-second decision to grab a step-stool saved her from breaking her neck. She caught the elevator, leaving a homicidal maniac holding his knife near her deserted office building.

The traffic light is green as Nicole comes off the freeway. To the side of her, perpendicular at a stoplight, is a 300-pound woman by the name of Elizabeth, a chain-smoker who has already tossed back five martinis this morning. Her husband left her for his coworker. Elizabeth is driving to work even though there is no possible way she could answer phones. The car next to her jolts to life, turning right, and without looking up, Elizabeth slams down on the gas, propelling herself forward. At the last minute she notices the light is red, the only color she has noticed all morning. In front of her, Nicole’s dark green sedan drives through the intersection, oblivious to the second’s difference where her door could have been dented. Her body could have been slumped against the dashboard. Her head could have been through the windshield, blood spotting the pieces of glass and bent windshield wipers. She does not notice the woman holding up the light, slumped over her steering wheel as she weeps.

Nicole needs to grab the file folder at the top of the shelf. Everything she needs is always at the top. She walks toward it, huffing at the task ahead. She steps up on the bottom shelf, pushing aside boxes and other various items littered where no one looks. She teeters, brushing her fingers on the file needed. She continues to stretch, unable to reach. Out of the corner of her eye she sees a step stool. She reluctantly steps down, grabs the stool and places it in the position of honor in front of the shelf. She stomps up and grabs the file in one swoosh. As she exits the closet, leaving the stool where it is, she is unaware of the crumpled mess she could have been. The shelf could have moved as she balanced, inch by inch from the wall until it eventually collapsed on top of her, landing conveniently on her delicate neck. She could have had only moments to realize her mistake before the shelf landed, cutting off all thought and all life of Nicole.

After work Nicole walks to the elevator, there is a code only for employees to keep the crackheads away from the building. She doesn’t notice the shadows behind her as she reaches the elevator. She keeps her eyes on her cellular screen, missing the approaching man, the only light reflecting on his naked blade. The man is Henry, a 30-year-old loner who has only had sex five times, and each time from unwilling participants. The elevator closes with a hiss, leaving Henry to slink back into the shadows, a grimace on his face. She is unaware of the torture she just avoided. She could have had a knife to her throat as Henry hiked up her skirt. She could have experienced the cold blade as it dug into her flesh again and again until Henry was satisfied. She could have lain, bleeding on the ground until only her coworkers found her 14 hours from then.

Nicole loves mint chocolate chip ice cream, the smell of rain on the ground and her monthly phone calls with her grandma, Irene. Today Nicole has avoided death three times, all completely unaware to her. Tomorrow, Nicole will almost die two times, a slow day of which she will yet again miss the subtle steps which save her life.

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