Geraldo's Present

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.


You've undone yourself! I liked the irony of the piece.

8 May 2009 at 18:03  

Ha! Very interesting twist at the end. Enjoyable read.

8 May 2009 at 19:00  

Loved it. The ending really surprised me.

8 May 2009 at 22:20  

this was a great read, your work is always intriguing but not overbearing or flowery. It flows nicely and draws you in.

the ending of this was just perfect. well done.

9 May 2009 at 04:06  

What an interesting ending. Great read. I loved it.

9 May 2009 at 08:20  

Cracking twist at the end. I was waiting on something obvious and it never came! Liked it.

9 May 2009 at 12:29  

Very nice. I was not sure what to expect and my guesses never approached where the ending went! Nice piece.

9 May 2009 at 14:07  

cracking tale once again. great pace where the reader is eager to discover what has actually happened.

mine can be found here

11 May 2009 at 17:26  

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