a guy who lives alone has an longstanding hobby of making time capsules for himself. Every year, he plants a new one, then digs up the one from 5 years ago. He keeps them buried in a row in the backyard.
One day, the day before his birthday, he carefully selects items that represent his current identity for this year’s capsule, then goes outside to dig a hole for it. After it’s buried, he goes 5 holes down the row, and digs up the can from 5 years ago. He takes it inside and begins to open it.
Normally the experience of opening a time capsule from yourself is nostalgic. It’s always personal mementos from his experiences that year, things that have a strong personal weight but no meaning to anyone else. Personal experiences that he might have forgotten…
So he opens the can he dug up, and to his surprise, instead of being from 5 years in the past, it’s from 5 years in the future. All of the contents are mementos from things he hasn’t experienced yet, not real records of the future, so he doesn’t understand them. One of them is a Christmas ornament from his mother*, wrapped in newspaper shreds. That’s how he knows what’s going on. Another one is a DVD that doesn’t seem to work.
There’s also a photograph of a girl, with a note that she wrote. He doesn’t recognize the girl, but he knows that she must be important. So he gets out of his house, and starts moving around town in social places, looking to meet her. He never finds her, not this year anyway, but the act of getting out onto the scene instead of staying alone and introspective introduces him to someone else who he does fall in love with.
If you like, you can stop here, or jump ahead to where he does meet the girl in the photo, and maybe he falls in love with her too, which jeopradizes his current relationship. The photo was placed into the time capsule with regret, not the hope that he originally interpretted.
*he gets a christmas ornament every year from his mother, but he usually doesn’t appreciate them. He knows that including it in the time capsule months after Christmas must mean that his mother has died last christmas. Maybe that’s too dark…
Do this in high contrast black & white. Scratchboard-ish, maybe.
p.s. This is inspired by Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, the finest childrens’ book ever. It inspires the imagination of the reader in a way that’s different and interactive, whereas most other fantasy books just bask in the imagination of the author. Reccomended.