I promise, I’ll work on something a little less dreary soon.

In That Moment

In that moment, he could see everything. He could trace the threads down all of the paths, a cavalcade of potential futures. The drink tossed in his face, or the slap across his cheek. The dismissive laughter. The light of interest in her eyes. The dull glow of an alcohol-fueled mistake. A short, passionate relationship doomed to failure. A long, sustained connection, a deep and abiding love. House in the suburb, apartment in the city. Hundreds of different outcomes flashed by in his mind’s eye.

In that moment, he saw children—the heartbreak of miscarriage, the joy of birth; in one future only the one child, in another many. A sea of slightly-different faces with similar smiles. Kaleidoscopes of personalities and school projects, colleges, careers. A million lives splintering in different directions, all from the choice before him.

In that moment, he saw death. Illness, accidents, cancer, childbirth, heart attack. Every thread he tracked ended differently but reached the same conclusion: loneliness and despair. But along the way, there was so much more. All of it one simple question away.

He took one long sip of his drink, laid some cash down on the table, and walked away.