Jason Lawrence Bell
Stories
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02-04-19

02-04-19                      PUSH ARROW TO BEGIN AUDIO

Outside the rain continued to fall for the third straight day. The couple inside enjoyed watching the rain through their living room window. Sitting cozy with heavy throw blankets and cups of hot coffee, they read books and penned letters and reaped the rewards of well-earned retirements. Leonard and Beth followed the well-walked path of their parents and worked hard and retired comfortably.

Just as Leonard was getting up to refill his coffee, his cell pinged which meant he had a text message. He reached for this phone and opened the message. It simply said “What if -Find out at Whatif.com.” He showed Beth the text and she grab her iPad and searched Whatif.com. A plain white page with large letters read “What If——ask your question” then a space for typing appeared. Beth’s curiosity was sparked and she jokingly typed ‘what if we moved to Hawaii to live?’ The website began immediately typing. “Fun for 3.4 months then Leonard develops an allergy to palm leaves and is forced to stay indoors. Locals are not friendly to new arrivals and you both miss the easy life back home.” Then the writing stopped and the question page returned.

‘Amazing details’ thought the couple. This made them even more curious. So, Leonard tried a question. He typed ‘what if I hadn’t become a lawyer?” The answer began “different path, you would marry Lisa. Have 3 kids, your work varies, a few years in real estate, then insurance. Eventually you buy a Dry-Cleaning service business. Money is tight and you never retire.” Then back to the question page. This stuns the couple. They became skeptical and thought this could be complete BS. No way to prove it’s true. So, Leonard typed a new question “what if we think your answers are not true?” A response began “what ifs are cross roads where you select a path from many options. When you two decided to keep the baby and get married. You choose a path. When Leonard decided not to have an affair with this high school sweetheart at the Class Reunion that was a path choice. Your choices determine your life.” Back to the question page.

The couple sat back in amazement. How did this website know things that were their secrets? Beth was told years ago about the Class Reunion episode; they never spoke about it again. This website has now becoming a serious situation. What do they do next?

Leonard had an idea and typed, “what if I believe that life is predetermined and there is only one path that we are fated to follow”? The answer was immediate. “if you want to go to the kitchen there are endless paths to use. Around the chair pass the table, or past the bedrooms down the hall, or even out the front door around the house to kitchen door, endless options. Only way you get to the kitchen is you decide and go. Or ask fate to decide for you. You won’t get an answer. You decide, not fate.” It continued, “when you two decided to follow the path of your parents, ‘you’ decided not fate. You took the pragmatic option that was easiest. You may not be very creative but you decided. For just one day try to not make any decisions and late fate decide. You will go nowhere. Fate is another catch-all phrase that was created to explain the unexplainable, like ‘it’s gods will, or god works in mysterious ways.’ Nonsense phases that calm simple minds. If there is any fate at all, it is that you are fated to live by your own decisions. But humans are addicted to romance. Fate is not about needing direction; it adds a magical romance to dull lives. To think that you two were fated to be a couple or soul mates is adding romance. Like you were anointed by the heavens to be together. Romance is magical bullshit. But fate brings good feelings. You feel like you understand when nothing has been enlightened, it stimulates feelings of harmony with the universe when all you’re really doing is just being. Fate is a way to self soothe in a confused mysterious life. A form of masturbation.” Leonard had read enough and closed the computer. Beth slowly asked Leonard “do you believe that is true?” Leonard grudgingly responded, “I don’t care if it is or not. I love believing that you are my fated mate that god delivered to me.” Beth smiled in agreement and they held hands and basked in soothing feeling of fate. Peace**