In life we’re given choices, some stand the test of our time.
My choice was January 4th, 2017. I remember being frustrated that morning. Between juggling emails and drinking the coffee that ended being spilt onto my dress. I left my apartment behind schedule. Work was a blur. Forgotten conversations with fellow doctors and patients alike. It would’ve been an average day until the moment that sent any optimism into ashes.
I slugged into a stereotypical Starbucks, fell into the same line. The one redeemable trait about that manufactured coffee shop was Poppy Grace. Poppy… Freckles that were like constellations, dark brown doe eyes, perfectly imperfect bun attempting to maintain her fiery like hair. She was gentle, made from rose stained glass. When she took my order I was about to ask her to dinner. I inhaled ready, but some tall, lanky, guy clumsily tripped onto me, spilling his ice coffee all over me. Humiliated, I fled the scene.
The harsh winter’s air hit me. Nothing mattered, I had tunnel vision. I was crossing the corner on Columbus Avenue. When I stepped onto the road, it felt like time itself slowed down. My eyes followed a prominent musky stench that came from the stranger who wore a beaten trench coat. The bulky figure shuffled to me. At first I hardly took notice, just another city weirdo. But the moment he was about to pass me, he cleared his throat. Eyes fixed to the ground. Almost reluctant.
He croaked, “If you could change your life would you?” His query stopped me. That’s when time stood still. I’ve never been the most patient person and standing in the middle of a crossing with cars from all sides was no exception.
“Yeah, sure, why not’, I groaned in annoyance.
With that I continued walking hurriedly with a sudden headache, something I can only describe as having a brick dropped onto me. Now keep in mind this was January, as I made it to the other side of the lights, I swear on my life, I noticed a monarch butterfly flutter past, inches away from me.
I’d be lying if that was the strangest event. While walking to my apartment I began to get flashes of, I can only describe as, multiple realities. I saw myself walking down the pavement like I was in that moment with images of what would happen next if I walked a bit slower or took a different route would be. I first was disorientated. It’s so bizarre, all the realities that were simultaneously playing through my brain felt realistically uncanny. I blamed it on hysteria, but as I ignored the hitting images they turned to reality. This became an ingrained routine of how to go about my life.
After a week I returned to the Starbucks. Everything was perfectly planned from time to outfit. When Poppy glanced at me I saw stars in her eyes, she took my usual.
“I like you a-latte, care for dinner?” I sheepishly asked. As corny as the pun was, she laughed and wrote her number on my coffee cup. Our relationship, once built on moments was going to become an experience.
Within a month, I took advantage of this given ability. It began with little things, having perfect dates with Poppy, avoiding coffee spills and the safest way back home. Six months, I was one of the richest women in the world, thanks to lottery numbers. I also met Poppy’s parents. A year, I was at my best, engaged to Poppy. A year and a half I was teaching medicine at Harvard. Poppy and I moved into a two-story house on Ellery Street. Throughout our relationship everything was perfect. I gave her the world, she gave me peace of mind. In the end, perfection becomes imperfection.
At first it was subtle. She’d be a bit anxious around me, followed by space, then May 17th, 2019. A rainy afternoon. That day I kept on getting visions of Poppy drenched with her passport. I wish I pieced together why it involved me.
She crept inside our house and met me where I was ready for an embrace. Instead what filled the gap was her whisper, “I’ve thought about our relationship. I need a break. I’m moving back to my parents for a while…”
I looked at the flower whose hair was messily tied together with a monarch butterfly clip. I racked my brain of any solution that didn’t result in her walking out of the door. The only differences in the realities was the order of her packing.
As if reading a script in a soapy drama I cried, “Why- how can I change?”
“You swap effortlessly between work and us. It feels like you’re hiding something from me.” She quietly sniffled, her glossy red eyes weakly looked at me. “I can’t do this. All this time we’ve been together we’ve never fought. Everything is too perfect. I… Wonder if everything is genuine with you.”
I shamefully looked to the ground. When she left I crept into the bedroom, the only remains of her was the monarch butterfly clip. I lost everything.
From then, I was fixated on finding the stranger in the trench coat. I spent hours of using my power more than ever to track him. I left my house with a migraine and a passport. I travelled back to New York to find him sitting in Central Park feeding pigeons. He stood up and walked towards me.
“You ruined my life!” I spat at him.
“Don’t you know the future isn’t an impulsive decision?” He chuckled and shook his head.
He walked off fading into nothingness. There was no vision of what to do next, only intuition. I ran onto the crossing on Columbus Avenue and spotted a resemblance of my old self in the shell of a grumpy businesswoman. I bumped into her, everything stopped.
That’s when I asked her, “If you could change your life would you?”
For now it's a short story but I do want to expand upon the idea, world and characters. My apologies if it does seem rushed, I'm currently building upon everything and continously adding in further details.