It seemed like such a simple decision. Two job offers. One would enable me to stay local. The other would require relocating to the other coast. Both jobs offers were good ones. So it was a matter of do I stay or do I go.
I had spent my entire life — from birth through college — in the same town. So I made the decision to take the more adventuresome route and to relocate. I packed up all of my meager possessions, said farewell to family and friends, and headed across the country to start my next chapter.
My biggest regret, though, was leaving Wendy behind. She and I had been the best of friends since we were little and our relationship turned romantic during the summer after we graduated from high school. We were almost inseparable during our college years and everyone, including both of us, was sure that we’d eventually marry.
But when I had to make my job choice, Wendy’s father was suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer and she would not leave his side. She didn’t want to hold me back or stand in the way of my dreams, so we agreed that I would take the job, relocate, and she would join me as soon as she could.
As they say, “the best laid plans.” Within six months of when I left town, Wendy’s father passed. But by the time Wendy was ready to come be with me, I had met someone new. She was not the homespun, girl-next-door type that Wendy was. She was wild, exotic, erotic. I was smitten. And then she got pregnant.
Wendy’s heart was broken when I told her I was a baby daddy and that I felt I had to do the right thing and marry the girl. I told her that I hoped we could still be friends, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She said she never wanted to see or hear from me again.
My new wife and I ended up having two more kids before she decided to be wild, exotic, erotic with some other guy. I got full custody of our three kids after the divorce. They’ve all grown up now and are out on their own.
Last month I got a call from one of my old high school buddies. He told me that Wendy had succumbed to the flu. I was devastated.
Now I’m a lonely old man who spends most of my time living with my memories and in thoughts of what could have been had I decided to take the job close to home and make a life together with Wendy.
Written for Butterfly Effect on Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The prompt asks us to envision an alternate version of yourself whose life veers off course due to a single decision made at some point in your life.