The Gift, By Matthew John Palace

My wife grabbed me and held me down, I had been compulsively shaking in our bed. I woke up and looked up and over to my wife, her eyes gazing into my soul reassured me that I was awake. I needed her warm touch as she embraced me with love, the ultimate force of life, it is true and pure, something I have been ignoring since the incident. But tonight, I felt her more than I have in a while. I went to the bathroom to splash some water on my face, and I thought about how far I’ve come from that day, the countless hours searching for the answers to the questions that I had for the gift that I was given.

Not able to go back to sleep and plagued by this constant blank memory of what an old man said to me the night of the incident, I entered my meditation room, I felt a force hit me like a wave, I felt nauseous and sluggish, something was different. The sleep deprivation from my nightly trips has taken over my normal sleep schedule. The dark nights were the only chance I could venture into my mind and into time. But lately, I felt it was causing my mind to break, however, meditation was the one thing that has helped me understand what was happened to me. It was helping me come to peace with the power that had bestowed upon me. I had to confront this incident that plagued my dreams, and I needed the answers, there was something invaluable that I was missing, like a piece to the puzzle. With the hope of finally mastering my new power, I recalled the event at the beginning of my meditation as I do every time.

It was a stormy night, and heavy rain came along with the rumble, the number 26 bus was late as usual, and after having the day I had I didn’t seem to give a damn. I had just been fired from my job. As the leafless tree above the bus stop offered no cover for the downpour that was ensuing, I thought a little water won’t hurt. I didn’t mind, I needed to be cleansed. The rain offered a cool, clean feel that beaded off my bald head, I felt at peace at that moment, the first time in a while.

As I stood there in complete ecstasy, I turned to my right, and an old man was standing next to me struggling with his umbrella. A younger couple that are normally on my route were waiting under the tree, barely escaping the rain while holding each other tight. They were acting like children, complaining of the rain and how they didn’t want to be wet. I gave a little laugh under my breath as I looked back over at the old man.

While looking at him struggle to open the umbrella and trying to keep my mind on the happy moment I was experiencing I couldn’t help but notice a scar on top of his heavily arthritic right hand as he tried to open the umbrella.

His head pointed to the ground and said to me, “This damn ole rusty thing, I’m trying to get this open for those people under the tree, they look like they need it more than us” as he chuckled.

His behavior was a bit off, but lighthearted in a sense, he wore a majestic white beard, glasses, a long black coat and a pendant that looked like had an orb that resembled an image of the universe. The brim of his hat covered his face with the dark rainy sky. Quite intriguing as I admired his positive energy. My attention quickly turned to a loud crash of lightning nearby. Bright, powerful, like bombs exploding in the sky.

The old man looked at me and said, “Just a little energy, nothing you and I can’t handle” as he chuckled even louder this time.

I thought to myself, who the hell is this guy? I’ve never seen him waiting for the bus or even on this route for that matter and why does he keep saying stuff like him and I knew each other or something. It was strange, to say the least, but something was comfortable about this old man. He reminded me of someone I knew.

I offered my help to open the umbrella for him, he said, “You sure you want to help?

As soon as he handed me the umbrella, it happened. Lightning struck, and the umbrella was the conductor that sent the electricity coursing through every molecule of my body. I awoke 11 hours later in the hospital from a dream, and all I could make out from the dream was an old man standing over me, talking to me, but I couldn’t hear what he said. Looking around the room, I yelled for my wife, she ran inside.

All I could say was “I love you” and tears ran down my face as I was so happy to be alive. She was ecstatic that I was ok, I had woken up and I was fine, the only thing I had was a bandage on my right hand. The hospital was baffled as I should have been dead, I should have never survived that much energy. She told me a witness report from a younger couple stated that it was hard to believe, they said that I was raised off the ground and floated for a few seconds, then started to convulse.

I asked her in desperation “What about the old man?” she looked at me and said, “I’m not sure baby, I haven’t heard anything about an old man. But what I can tell you is that I don’t think you should ever take another bus again, at least not standing in the rain waiting for it. You’re here and your alive and that’s all that matters.” I looked at her and smiled. Having her by my side was all I needed. Our love was new, only five years into it, but it felt as if I knew her for eternity, and I never wanted to let her go. I lived for her; she was my everything.

This day is relived over and over, it wasn’t until 3 months after the incident when things started to get rough in our marriage. I was starting to neglect her from my nightly journeys. I was time traveling every night trying to find that night at the bus stop. The meditation mixed with the lightning opened a portal beyond anything I could understand. Though not in control of the destinations or the time period, I kept being thrown into a light that takes me to random places. I have been traveling through time and being careless about what I was doing. It was extraordinary what I was able to do, I had the universe to myself, but why couldn’t I control it?

Becoming an addiction like a drug, I was driving myself mad, always wanting to go deeper, always looking for the next fix and not caring about anything other than this new power. I kept obsessing over what this old man said to me while waiting at the bus stop, if I could control this power, then I could go back in time and figure it out. Not knowing how each time would unfold.

After about five minutes into my meditation, it happened, I went through a bright tunnel of light and I was able to navigate through it, then, just like the bolt of lightning that struck me, I was at the bus stop. There I was standing next to myself and the old man, it was just as the scene that was playing in my head for over a year. But this time, for the first time, I was looking at myself in the past. The lightning crashed down on my body, I saw myself floating.

Thunderous roars shaking the sky, he leaned over my floating body and finally heard what he said, “This is now your gift, you are a time traveler, you can alter life and you can have anything you ever wanted. What you do with this power will change the course of human existence, you may only have this gift and its full power if you leave the one true and pure thing in your life. Choose wisely, don’t make the same mistake twice.”

The storm suddenly stopped, the sun shined upon the old man’s face, it was me.

Matthew John Palace is a new writer, and you should check out his blog at

8 thoughts on “The Gift, By Matthew John Palace

  1. Hello,

    Particularly vivid and visual writing when you describe the man at the bus stop. The swift mood changes are sophisticated and bring depth and layers reminding me of Ernest Hemingway’s prose. I liked the line about the rain on your protagonist’s head; it filled me with a searing empathy. There are a couple of typos, but hey Thenumber26 asks you to feel the writing and overlook the errors the way you would with a lover, no?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This may come across as superior; it isn’t meant to at all; there is no tone in my writing. I just want to add (and I know that typos are often unavoidable when we have not been able to leave time to go back fresh and see the errors we missed when using a different part of the brain and too close to the writing), I would enjoy editing your work for you with no strings attached; purely because I think you have great talent and are a promising writer, and wish someone had taken me under their wing 30 years ago. Also your writing is very different from mine which means that I feel that I would not be able to plagiarise it by accident. Of course it is possible that you don’t want or need this. I couldn’t read more than around 30 000 words for you; who knows though, it may help…..and for me it would be a pleasure. No pressure; let me know in a week, a month, a year…I am a busy person, so I will always make the time.


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