One Day Off by Jared Swansboro

It seemed as if time had decided to move a day back, alluding to my own possible mistakes. The first birthday that I spent with my significant other, I wrote her a poem. September 26th. For three years straight, I read her that poem. She’d laugh, smile, and say how grateful she was. But this past year, that didn’t happen.

I was in my dorm, waking up from a long night of essay writing, when I decided to call her to wish her a happy birthday, and of course read her the poem. It was September 26th, 2019. She picked up the phone, I heard her voice and her laughter as I sang her happy birthday over the line, and then I began to read.

“September 26th” I started, but she stopped me.

“You do realize that my birthday is on the 27th,” she said with more laughter.

I paused, dumbfounded and thinking that she was playing a prank on me.

“No it’s not, don’t do that to me. I would never forget your birthday,” I said, skeptical and doubtful.

“I’m serious. My birthday is September 27th.”

I sat there on the phone for a few moments, until finally asking her.

“Have I been calling you a day early all this time?”

And then she said what scared me the most. “No, you’ve called me every day on my birthday and read me the poem. You must have mistyped or changed it on accident.” A feeling of confusion washed over me. I couldn’t explain what was happening.

This is a person that I talked to every day for the last three years. There is rarely a time when she isn’t involved some way in my life, and I felt that I knew her better than I knew most of my relatives. But yet I forgot her birthday? Mistakenly changed the date on my phone? The name of the poem? It was impossible. I wasn’t one to forget important dates, much less to forget a reoccurring yearly event. I didn’t forget, and I hadn’t made a mistake.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Am I sure if I know my own birthday? Yes, I’m sure hun."

I stared at the wall, and after a few moments of silence, I let out a chuckle. “You’re right, I must have mistyped or hit something on my phone. My bad. I will call you tomorrow.” I explained it away, just as a means of reasoning past my confusion, but did I believe it? No. I know I didn’t forget. Something had changed. Was it me? Was it the world around me? Or was it her? I don’t know. All that I know is, is that I now read a poem on the 27th of every September, that’s still titled September 26th.

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