Expiration Date

we all have expiration dates

he knew that because that’s what everyone always told him

they said that when his dad died at 51

they said that when his mom got sick

they said that when frank at the office fell off his chair during the quarterly meeting and died right there

they said that when he was seven and his cat got hit by a truck as he sat on the sidewalk chalk in hand

they said that when his annual stress test came back a bit too high…. again

they also said no one actually knows their expiration date

but they were wrong

he did

he saw it one day after he removed his work boots and set them at their place beside the door

it was a tag tied around his toe and he wondered how he never noticed it before

in fact he couldn’t even feel it there, it was just that the corner was peeking out and he got curious

he pulled it up to read it

there was his name and birthdate

and below that the curious inscription:

expires age 51 and then an even curiouser set of symbols

he had set his foot down shocked and numb

he was fifty

his dad died when he was 51 too

what the fuck?!

that was eighteen months ago

today was his fifty-second birthday

he wasn’t sure what to think

he wasn’t sure what to believe

he just wasn’t sure what to think anymore

he checked his tag again

this time he caught something he hadn’t noticed before

suddenly his whole world shifted


tara caribou | ©2020

44 thoughts on “Expiration Date

  1. I love that you left it for the reader to decide what happens. My mind shifted towards the already dead ending, but upon further contemplation, I’m wondering if I should go all sci fi and say he was a clone living in a parallel dimension who survived his expiry date because of a glitch in the monitoring system. All kinds of possibilities. Great poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great read Tara. For me it very much sums up how, for many of us, our minds work as we analyse and try to find meaning.
    Would we want to know our expiry date? I guess we would never know how we’d react until we did…and by then it’d be too late!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. And some people think they would “do things different” if they only knew that date… but we should assume every day is a gift and unwritten.

      So the question is, did this character change his own expiration date? Did he alter his future? Or was it not truly scripted to begin with? OR… did he travel from one reality to another, beyond his own life even??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A gift indeed.
        So many questions: had he passeed the actual hour of his birth? Did he breathe a sigh of relief, walk outside and get hit be a bus? Did the Grim Reaper check his dates incorrectly – and did someone else (someone whom.your lead loved) get taken instead.
        Oh, I do love a bit of intrigue!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It is his 52nd birthday. Meaning, in some way, he passed his “expiration date”. How?? Well, that is what I leave to imagination. Was the tag wrong? Did make changes in the 18months preceding which altered it? Did he die and not realize it? Or…??

      Liked by 1 person

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