Smoke, Whiskey, and Regret
I was staring at my hand. My fingers had gone numb. The doctor had said this could happen, but I hadn’t expected it so soon.
“No, it’s nothing,” I said. “What did you say?”
“I asked if there was anything you regretted.”
“Oh,” I said. “We’ve hit that part of the evening, have we?”
“I just want to know if it ever drives your stories, that’s all.”
“Does it ever drive yours?”
She blew a ring of smoke into the air.
“It does,” she said. “But we’re not talking about me.”
I looked at my glass of whiskey. I thought of a lonely night and the pitter-patter of rain, and of sitting with a girl in front of an apartment full of memories like colors on a palette. I thought of how we’d painted a picture with the past; a picture neither of us could finish.
I thought of a funeral that marked the passing of time with the loss of a life. I thought of how important it was to live in the present, but how living in one present had robbed me of another.
I thought of the promises I’d made and the promises I’d broken, and how some hearts mended and other hearts didn’t. I thought of how life went on anyway and we went on with it, and how we all lived with the scars that came with our decisions.
I thought of a doctor I didn’t want to see, and news I didn’t want to hear, and a relationship that now came with a timer, slowly ticking down towards some unknown sadness.
I saw all of it like fingers on a hand I couldn’t seem to feel anymore.
“Are we defining regrets as moments in time that could have gone differently, but didn’t?” I said.
“Well, that’s what they are, aren’t they?”
“Hm. In that case, I guess I don’t have that many regrets.”
I looked at my hand again.
Moments in time that could have gone differently.
And I wondered if I would come to think of this evening, and the events that transpired within it, as the former or the latter.
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