215: Day 30 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is the number 215. This story is a start, and it is on my list to keep writing into a full story.


Everyone gets 215, then they die. We know that. What we don’t know is: 215 of what? Some people’s 215 seem obvious: car crashes, black-out drunk nights, heartbeats. People that’ve figured it out tattoo their visible skin: hands, feet, necks, heads. People whose loved ones’ 215 happened too fast tattoo their hidden skin. The most tragic stories push out into daylight.

The 215 is far more of an equalizer than even death. A walk through a cemetery and its ornate monuments to the lives of wealth, which stretched far longer than the crumbling stones of the city poor. No one escapes 215. 215, no more, no less.

My generation’s drive to discover our 215, an undercurrent of every life, has been amplified by smartphones and apps that let us catalog our days to the smallest details, spitting out easy charts and running programs to daily narrow and narrow and narrow down to almost certainty what our 215 must be. Our teenage lives are so small that we add little new to our categories of experiences.

My sister says the apps are crap for college-aged people. Too many new things to do. The probabilities of it being any one thing explode after high school. My mom tells her to just wait until she’s settled down into a job and a family. It’ll narrow again, she says. Let them bicker it out while I post my latest prediction on Facebook. Ten people have liked it by the time dinner is ready.

Halfway through dinner, my phone is buzzing the table. Mom glares at me before rolling her eyes in annoyed permission. I pick up and speedwalk to my room. “Hey Ainslie!” Ainslie is an Obsessor. She micro-catalogs her day. She wants to know exactly what is going to mark her death. If her daily prediction has less than 10 different activities, she quits everything on the list cold turkey for anywhere from a week to a year until she feels sufficiently secure that that thing is not her 215. She’d given me up once.

“It’s sex, Lolly. Sex is my 215. I have to break up with Chris.”

“It’s-”

“It is! I’ve only done it like a half dozen times and it is already on my predictor list.”

“How many other things are on your list, Ains?”

“It doesn’t matter! Nothing ever gets put on that fast.” I am at my desk and unlock my computer.

“Who wrote the app again?”

“Um, … let’s see. P00-dee-seat-ya? P-U-D-I-C-I-T-I-A.”

“Yeah, that company is actually Focus on the Family. You’re fine. Except that you need a new app.”

“Well, shit. It’s going to take me forever to get a new app up to speed.”

“Come over tomorrow and help you with the export/import (again).”

“You’re the best. Oh, and ice cream? There is no way you’ve had ice cream less than 215. You really need to be better on your inputs. It won’t work if the data isn’t good, Loll.”

She’s off the line before I can answer. She knows I’m a Neut, but she likes to think she can convert me. I’m pretty sure that we’re all born with our basic framework: Obsessor, Neutral, Challenger, Risker. Life and such might influence how those express and you can totally fake being one of the others, but your default is in the realm you were born in.

Mom’s calling me back to the table, dessert is ready (ice cream, of course).

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