Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me

Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me

 Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave? Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.


The old man took a spoonful of jello and raised it to his mouth. It was orange jello and it jiggled off his spoon and fell to his lap.  “Damn, orange jello” he said, “I hate orange jello.  I’ve always been a ‘yellow jello’ man.”

I smiled and leaned forward, “Why’s that?”

“I’m not letting you off that easy,” he pointed his spoon at me.  “You know you’re the second reporter to come interview me today?  Ask me something important.”

“What did the other guy ask you?”

“The ‘other guy’ was a girl.  Pretty little slip of a thing too.  I doubt if she was even 20 years old though.  She wanted to hear stories, stories about my life and my wars.”

“What did you tell her?”

“A bunch of lies.  That’s all she really wanted to hear anyway.  She hasn’t been around enough to understand the stories I could tell.  I gave her something to write about though.  No one’s left alive who can refute any of it.”

“Fair enough,” I said.  I gathered myself together, sat a little straighter in my chair and looked at the 121 year old man sitting across from me.  By all accounts, he was the oldest living man on the planet, and today was his birthday.  That’s why I was here – the paper wanted a fluff piece, a human interest story, so I asked him, “You’ve been around a long time, done a lot of things that no one else alive today has done, what sort of legacy are you leaving?  What kind of lasting effect do you want to have on the world?”

“How old are you?” he asked.

“About half your age,” I said.  I got my notebook out and prepared to write down his answers.  He surprised me.

“Legacies are bullshit.”  He said flatly, “legacies are for the arrogant.  They’re what presidents, heads of state, deans of universities, and captains of industry worry about.  People like me – we don’t worry about legacies.  We worry about the day to day stuff.  I don’t care how people remember me.  If everything works out right, the only things that people are going to know about me after I’m gone are the lies that little girl writes and, whatever it is that you decide to put on paper.  And, the only reason that they will have that is because I got to be so old.  Else, no one would care.  That suits me just fine.”

“In my day – I have seen people come into this world and I have taken people out.  I have walked through jungles and deserts.  I have trod the steel deck plates of submarines and surface craft, airplanes and battle tanks.  I walked the concrete and asphalt pathways of some of the world’s biggest and most beautiful cities.  I have won big and lost bigger.  I have both loved and cried.  I have dined on caviar and I have subsisted.  I have experienced the pleasure of making good friends, and at my age I already lost most of them.  Do you really believe, I was thinking about my legacy during all that?  No, I was too busy living.”

I stopped writing.  I looked up at the old man.  He was looking back at me, his gaze unwavering. “Maybe you’d like to hear why I like yellow jello after all?”


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