Unsent letters. The idea intrigued me. At the same time a certain dread cast its shadow over my mind. An unsent letter: the perfect way to express my feelings; to say what I really felt about her without having to expose myself. Yet, it could be risky. After all, I was still married; in public we were even still together, even if the truth belied any such interpretation of the word together. How on earth could I be expected to trace the trajectory of such forbidden feelings for another. What if she should find out? What if such feelings were reciprocated? But there was something liberating in that word unsent. Knowing Janice would never read it, knowing no one would ever read it gave me courage, despite the nervous start I made. Once I got going, it flowed. Every little seed of affection that ever flourished in my heart oozed out of my pen and embellished the paper I would ever hide away in the deepest confines of my heart shaped desk. Never had I expressed myself so freely, so beautifully; never had such truth been forced to hide its face from the light of day.

And yet, it cost - such frankness: 10 lines - 3 hours and totally debilitated. I had to get out, away, anywhere, anything... just not think any more. A walk, but even that cost. Simone wanted to walk with me, didn't understand I wanted to be alone. But then how could she? At her age, impossible to understand what was going on between her mother and myself. I put an end to the bickering by walking out. Then my luck changed.

Janet, Dorian, Philip... The three of them together enjoying some afternoon refreshment. I needed something stronger. The wine flowed, my mood cheered. Gone, the lethargy, the doubts, all thoughts of what if... I went back home and spoke the unspeakable. The letter was sent. And now...

Dear Friends,

This morning I feel duty bound to try and provide some explanation, however slight it may seem, as to why you will not be getting anything to read from my know well-worn pen, today. Indeed, not just today but also for the weeks months and years to come.

The fact is, I am now precisely 50 years and 363 days old. In two days time... stop, the last thing you want to hear is me reminiscing on the past and speculating on what the future might hold. So, I'm 50. And as 50 is meant to be a landmark in one's life, an inventor friend gave me a very special present. He gave me a piece of software which, once installed would enable me to relive any three days in my life I might chose.

"Exactly as it happened, love..." Those were his very words. "And as often as you want. And once you've got that far, I'll send you the special code which will enable to you to enter any one of those three days you chose and make one, single change. But be careful; any change will not be virtual. It will actually affect the life you're living right now. So there you are my dear, that's my present for you. And you have precisely one year to enjoy it. After that it becomes obsolete."

At first, I didn't know what to think of this. I knew Geraldo pretty well. He wasn't one of those crank inventor types. Indeed, he had succeeded in patenting and selling several of his ideas to well-known companies. To say the least, I was intrigued. And couldn't wait to try out his present.

It was only now I realised how difficult it was going to be. If you can imagine all the agonising that went into some of your past decisions, you may be able to get an inkling how difficult it was to decide which of these to revisit. For the moment, I wasn't even thinking about what I might want to change. And what if I didn't want to change anything!

My first though was to revisit the very day my parents first met. If I could go back that far, I might be able to step in and prevent then from meeting. And then... a whole new horizon; a completely different life. Don't get me wrong, I not one of those guys who go through life whining at what happened and wishing it were all so different. On the contrary, I'm reasonably satisfied with my lot. But the prospect of recreating my life, having two cracks at the whip, so to speak was too tempting to resist.

Unfortunately, the command December 31 1955 only brought up the following error message:

Access denied. Date beyond authorised scope. Enter new date.

And what's more, it actually counted as one of my three days. I'd have to be more careful next time. I had little room to manoeuvre. Days and weeks went by and still I wasn't sure what to do. The school holidays provided me with a welcome break and the chance to concentrate exclusively on this one matter. The first evening of the holidays, I dug out my old journals and started pouring over them. That's how I got to thinking about Charles, once again. What if I'd said yes, that evening on the beach when he... I played and replayed the scene over the next few days, always stopping at the same spot and always wondering what if... He was awfully cute, Charles, and most of the girls would have given all they could to be there with him on the beach. What if I changed my "no" to... I wondered if the software would let me replay the scene and visualise what would happen, had I said yes, without actually committing myself to the change. But I figured, it probably wouldn't and not wanting to cause any more damage to my chances, I decided to abstain.

Time moved on, the holidays came to an end and winter set in. Still, I couldn't decide which day I wanted to revisit. The pressure was rising. I had just a few more months before my chance was over and I still didn't know what to do. It wasn't the potential for triggering some sort of personal disaster that worried me. I've been in a pretty few scrapes in my life and always managed to get out of them somehow. But the thought that I might be in front of an open door and fail to see it, filled me with foreboding. Finally, winter gave way to spring and with the arrival of April I realised, it was now or never. After much soul searching, my mind finally settled on the last big decision I had had to make. After several years teaching, I had taken the plunge and applied for Director of Studies jobs at a number of language schools in different parts of the country. Several calls and three interviews later I was left with the decision to go up north to Carlisle or down south to Hastings. I knew very little of either place but liked the look of both. There was also little to chose between either school. Eventually, I plumped for Carlisle, and have never regretted it. But what if...

The thought just wouldn't go away. What if I'd moved to Hastings? I just had to know. I picked up the phone and called Geraldo.

"Are you sure? This step is completely irreversible."

Sure? Of course, I was sure. What was there to lose? I had few worries that I might not like it. Whether or not it would be a success was up to me, not the particular locality I was in. I had always been able to forge out my own existence. Why should it be any different now?

With no further thoughts I typed in the code and pressed the enter key. By the time I realised what I'd done, it was too late. You see, arriving in Carlisle some five years ago, I'd decided to enrol in a creative writing group, just to get to know other people. It was the best thing I could have done. The people were great and I soon developed a real passion for writing. But since I never do the same thing twice, then I'm no longer a writer. So now I've an exciting new story to tell, but no way of telling it. Sorry! Maybe your best bet is to try getting hold of Geraldo.

I am proud to confess to be being a lover of life and all that life has to offer. True, it's not all the proverbial bed of roses. Indeed, right now and for various reasons we are going through some pretty tough times. But they all make life itself that much more interesting.

Greater still, I confess to being a lover of the giver of life, who has given me so much, including some of those things, referred to above, I'd rather do without. But he doesn't just dole them out, he also carries us through.

I also confess to being a lover of light. I guess I am just drawn to anything that exudes light. Which is why this time of year is my favourite. I love getting up early and watch the sun creeping over the horizon, bathing everything coming into sight with its soothing, stimulating rays. I am also fascinated by kaleidoscopes, and the way they turn light into a thousand and one things of beauty.

I guess after this fairly unscientific definition of what a kaleidoscope does, it comes as no surprise if I confess that the vast domain of science remains a mystery to me: one that friends are slowly and patiently trying to open up to me. Their's may be a lost cause but I have great admiration for their staying power as well as gratitude for the little I've been able to learn from them.

An embarrassing confession is that I can't sit still whenever I go to a music concert. Music to me is the language of the soul and I react via another language - movement, or dance as people often call it. Whenever I hear music that touches me, then I have to express what I feel in an appropriate way: more often that not by giving voice to my body. My daughter often has to chide me about it. She's still naïve enough to think that chiding might bring about change; my wife has given up long ago. But, I always react, pointing to the stiff, statuesque assortments of matter sitting around me, how can anyone just calmly sit in a seat when your soul is being lifted up to heaven. Well, at least, I don't break out into song... at least not in public; at home it's a different matter.

Last and fortunately least, a puzzled confession. I have great difficulty understanding why confession for so many is such a negative thing. Of course, accepting my faults and weaknesses is an part of everyday life, mine included; you just have to ask my wife and children about that. But with so many beautiful and wonderful things around us to confess to, I am saddened that we somehow seem to have got the balance wrong.

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