A Familiar Stranger

silhouette of man standing near railings during daytime

Rome, GA – “A Familiar Stranger, a short story”.

Edwin sat on a bench in Marietta Square, staring at the fountain waiting for his beautiful young girlfriend to join him. It was a stunning fall afternoon and Edwin was feeling lost and confused about his future. He had graduated two years earlier from an elite college with a degree in computer science and a minor in international business but didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He had always dreamed of starting his own tech company, but he was afraid of failing.
As Edwin was sitting there in the sunshine among the huge oak trees, he saw an older gentleman sitting on a bench across from him and sensed that the man was studying him, not staring but definitely observing him closely. The older man looked familiar, except his hair was graying, wore glasses and had a few wrinkles on his face. He was well dressed with a smart Harris tweed jacket, plaid Burberry scarf and polished Chelsea boots. The clothes seemed vintage but meticulously cared for.
“Hello,” said the older man. “My name is Edwin.”
“Hi,” said the young man. “That’s so interesting, my name is also Edwin. It’s a family name given to me from my parents in Peru.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Edwin,” said the older gentleman. “I already know all about you because I’m from the future.”
The young Edwin was immediately sceptical and confused. “What do you mean,  from the future?” 
“I mean I’m from the year 2053,” said the older Edwin. “I came back here to this very bench on the Square to give you some important advice and to encourage you.”
The young Edwin was stunned. He didn’t know what to say. Although it seemed surreal and complex, the conversation seemed easy and the colloquium was familiar. 
“I know you’re feeling lost and confused about your future,” said the older Edwin. “I was in the same frame of mind when I was your age and remembered this was a favorite place to visit when you wanted to think.  But I came here today to tell you that everything is going to be okay. You’re going to accomplish great things, Edwin.”
“How do you know that?” asked Edwin. “I mean, did you travel back in time just to talk to me?”
“Because I am you,” said the older Edwin. “I’ve already lived your life. I know the choices you’re going to make and the mistakes you’re going to make. But I also know the highs and lows you’re going to experience. You’re going to be a great success and impact millions of people.”
The young man was startled and starting to believe him. “What should I do?” The young Edwin asked.
“Don’t be afraid to fail,” said the older Edwin. “Failure is a part of our success. It’s how you learn and grow. So don’t be afraid to take risks. And don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Encourage others to achieve their fullest potential and they will become your future. Relationships are what makes your life complete. Not material things.”
“I’ll try to do what you say,” said the young Edwin.  “But I worry about the future, the state of the economy and the uncertainty all around us.  I want to make a difference in the world.”
“I know that you will,” said the older Edwin. “And I know you’re going to do great things.”
The older man stood up and started to walk away.
“Wait,” said the young Edwin. “Can I ask you just one more question?”
“Of course,” said the older gentleman.
“What’s THE most important thing I should remember?” asked the young man.
The older Edwin smiled. “The most important thing you should remember is that you’re never alone,” he said. “No matter what happens, you have your relationships. And that’s all you need.  Your personal relationship with the Creator and having a loving family and  good friends are vitally important.”
The older Edwin stood up, turned and walked away, leaving the young man sitting on the bench. Young Edwin watched him for a few minutes, and he felt a sense of peace and confidence that he hadn’t felt in a long time. He knew that everything was going to be okay. He was going to do great things.
The young Edwin got up from the bench and started to walk home. He thought about what the older Edwin had said to him. He knew that his older self was right. He shouldn’t be afraid to fail. He should take risks and follow his dreams. And he should never forget that he was never alone. He had himself, his friends and family.
The young Edwin turned to see his girlfriend approaching from across the street. Edwin took her hand and walked home with a little extra spring in his step. He knew that he was going to be okay. He was going to do great things.  His mind became calmer and he no longer felt uncomfortable about his future. It was in his hands to shape his life into whatever form he wanted. 
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