Writer’s Digest Creative Writing Prompt: A Newspaper From The Future
You are walking to your car when you pass a boy selling newspapers on the street. He doesn’t look like he’s getting any customers, so you buy a copy, only to discover that it’s dated a week from today. And one particular story makes you realize you need to take action- now.
I always wondered how they stayed in business without selling a single paper. I saw the boy there every week, every Thursday afternoon with the new edition, and yet I never saw a single person stop and buy a copy.
It was the typical Oracle News, Cassandra stuff that everyone insisted was complete bunk. Yet no one could ever quite point to a case of them being wrong. It was as if they were just overlooked, not really considered one way or the other. They were always just… ignored.
Maybe it was that I had just bought new shoes, or maybe it was the fresh rain that made everything smell just a little sweeter. I was in the mood for a distraction and found myself dropping two quarters in the boy’s hat. He thanked me and handed me a paper, our fingers brushing momentarily. As I made to step away, he grabbed my hand, a sudden concern entering his young eyes.
“Don’t do it, Ma’am. Please,” he said, too low for anyone else to catch. “It isn’t meant to be you.”
Such an odd feeling came over me, and I nodded almost against my will, pulling back uneasily. I started to walk away, glancing back over my shoulder once or twice, but he was no longer paying any attention, holding up a paper for the next pedestrian passing by.
I got to the bus stop and looked at the paper. Everything you might expect: next week’s lottery numbers, winning scores from tonight’s big game, ads for personalized fortune tellings and palm readings. What I didn’t expect was to turn the page to the obituaries and see my best friend’s name. It was dated tomorrow.
The entry was brief, giving little detail. It only mentioned she was survived by her fiance and child and services were to be held next Wednesday at the community center. What my eyes kept returning to was where it hinted at the cause of death, ‘following an incident at her home.’
It wasn’t that I believed these things, if someone could really predict the future, what would they be doing selling it in papers on the corner? These were supposed to be for laughs, like horoscopes, something to chuckle over and think back on later, not something to wrench your gut like you’d been punched.
I had to do something. I couldn’t risk it being true and not have done anything. I forgot about the boy’s warning.