Short Stories

Short Story: Paths

I have been thinking paths lately. Not in a mystical way, not involving destinies, but about the normal decisions we make and what follows if you have to choose between two or three. There have been a few weird occurrences happening to me, feeling like I was kidnapped into some alternated reality, getting to see what life could have been, and then ushered back to my usual trot. The thing is, it is so difficult to see what life is going to be from ten years from now, yet, we are often enough forced to make decisions as if we could know what is exactly going to happen and what is going to maximize our happiness. The later exercise seems to me like a waste of time. Sometimes the most painful route can get you the most out of life, but you can’t know that beforehand, making this living thing seem like one big cosmic joke everyone takes too seriously.

I’m taking a new step in life. I’m going back to school. And I’m both excited and hating it. It will mean that there will be changes to the posting schedule, but I won’t stop writing. It comes first. But this is what I’m talking about when I say it is difficult to see what it is like in ten years from now.

So here is a story for you about clairvoyance. Wouldn’t it be so lovely if we could know?


She had wakened that day with a horrible headache. The pale blue sky had made her eyes ache, and it had taken a long time until she could focus her gaze. She was sure a robin had watched her from the windowsill, but when she blinked, it was gone, and there was nothing, and the sky had darkened, and it had started raining.

She dragged the blanket over her head, wishing she could stay the day in bed. Sometimes it was too much to live her life, and then she remembered all of those who were far worse off than she was, and she felt guilty. She kicked the blanket down with her feet and got out of the bed, stopping the film going inside her head what her day would have looked like. Her boss would have called, and she would have pretended to be sick, so sick in fact that she hadn’t heard the alarm clock. Then when that was done, and she had gotten fired, she would have gone back to sleep, waken with a craving for ice cream, and spend the rest of the day binge-watching TV and reading books never going to shower, never brushing her teeth.

That was not for in the cards for her today.
She walked to the kitchen, past her old CRT TV, which took an entire corner of the living room slash bedroom.

The cat, Mr. Duckie, had already wakened and was watching out of the kitchen window. She glanced out following his gaze and wondered when the sky had turned back to pale blue.

As soon as she started to prepare for the day ahead, trying to choose between coffee and tea, Duckie jumped off the kitchen table and brushed against her legs. She could say angry and hasty words meaning not now, that he would have to wait for his turn to get tuna, but again a film rolled in her head, and she could see how grumpy she would be the rest of the day, even ending up offending Frankie at work. She lowered to pick Duckie up, and together they got his food. She knelt next to him, scratching him while he ate, stealing a moment for them despite running late. Fifteen minutes didn’t matter.

There was another wave of headache, and a film started to roll. She squinted her eyes to make it stop. She didn’t want to see it. What was wrong with her? All the limbs and all the blood.

“Duckie, I wish I got to be you and never leave this apartment,” she said, petting the cat one more time before getting up and leaving him alone to enjoy his breakfast.

She put the coffee on, and let it brew while she took a shower. She made the water run long and hot, extending the minutes she would be late.

The coffee was just right when she got to the kitchen. Duckie was nowhere to be seen. She drank the coffee, observing the blue sky, looking for robins, or the absence of them.

Again she could see the impact. Hear the screeching tires. She pushed her eyes together, wishing it to go away. Anyway, it was time to get up from dreaming and put her work clothes on relaxed black jeans, an overly large cardigan, and a green army jacket.

“I’m off Duckie. Behave yourself,” she said at the door, taking an umbrella from a basket with her, and headed out without eating breakfast. It was for the better.

There she was, a few blocks from her work, watching an intersection, waiting for the film to roll, and the nightmare to be over. She could hear the tires, the traffic, and finally see the van approaching. The bus just passed her, and she shut her eyes, not wanting to see. She could hear the echoes of car honking, metal hitting against metal, the screams, and the world shutting down while moving on, but it didn’t happen.

There was a hiss from the bus as it stopped to the intersection, letting an older lady pass slowly pushing her walker on.

The minivan full of people drove past, disregarding their savior hooked on their phones, never knowing what it feels like to die when fourteen-ton bus rips your car apart.

She hurried to work, being the only one carrying the image of torn limbs and blood with her, knowing well there is always some granny on your path both in good and bad. Tat late or second too early, and nothing goes according to Destiny.

Thank you for reading! Smile to the next lady you see, she might have saved a life or two. Have a great day and a new year!

© K.A. Ashcomb

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