[This series was inspired by this post, and is a fictional inquiry into what might have been if I’d made different choices.]
I’ve just returned from my time away in England, and have been invited to go down to New York by a friend I made there. I’d had a bit of a crush on him, so I make a road trip out of it with some girlfriends and we head on down.
The drive is mostly uneventful, though we do end up getting lost somewhere in Syracuse. The visit itself is uneventful. The friend and I have very little time alone, and when I leave, I leave single as I was when I arrived.
There is a boy back home, though, whom I’ve been in love with for quite some time, and now that I’m living back at home, we begin to spend time together again. I keep in touch with the friend in NY, but rarely visit. Trips to another country are expensive, and I’m saving up for school, and for an apartment of my own.
The boy and I get our shit together, eventually, and we start dating. It is just as I expected it to be. We are good together, but I decide to move to the city to go to university rather than commuting. He comes to visit whenever he can, but it’s difficult to get away.
When he finishes school, he moves in with me. I finish my degree and contemplate graduate school. He is encouraging, and supports me while I continue on. We get married, eventually, after I have graduated with my MA and have begun to get published. I decide to hold off on my PhD because my books are selling enough, and he makes more than enough, that we can afford to have our first child.
Both of our parents are overjoyed. Ours is the first grandchild, so the baby is spoiled. I stay at home with the baby and write when I can. He works odd hours, sometimes, but is around as much as he can be.
When the child is older, I start going on book tours again. He misses me when I’m gone, but I’m too excited to be out of the house to miss him in the same way. I’m simply too busy. There is little resentment, though, as he is now able to stay home more with our child. We talk about having a second, and we try for a while. I’m travelling enough that it’s difficult, sometimes, to coordinate the proper timing. It happens, though. I discover this when I become sick on the aeroplane (which never happens) and when I reach the hotel it is with a pregnancy test. I call him from wherever I am to tell him the good news. We both cry.
The second baby is harder on my body. It takes a while for me to bounce back. My writing slows, though I try to keep up with mommy blogging. I see a therapist after a few months for post-partum. My mother comes to stay, which drives me even more up the wall. I am tense, and he notices. We get away, but it hardly helps. We both get frustrated with my inability to heal, and we consider divorce, but are both against it. Think of the children, we say.
With the help of the therapist and some medication, I am eventually back to a facsimile of my old self. The children are older, now, and are looking at schools. They have picked up some of my melancholy, so I make a point to talk to them about it, despite how embarrassing they find it sometimes. They go away for school, and we are left alone again. It’s familiar, but also alien to us. We forgot what it was like to be together alone.
We start going on little dates, and playing video games together like we used to. It takes a while – both of us are quite stubborn – but we fall in love again. It’s a different kind of love, but it’s there. He retires, and we eventually have a grandchild. We visit often, but most of our time is spent at home. He comes with me to the occasional book tour.
We both slow down, and we pass away quietly at home, one after the other. We are mourned by our children and our friends. Some of my fans share my headshot on social media with quotes from my book and the letters “RIP”.