Short Stories

Almost

“Hey!”

Huh?

“You! In the black shirt!”

Me?

“Yeah, you! Smile! You’re beautiful!”

What?

A young couple waved at me from across the street, but I didn’t recognize them. He was shirtless, and his shabby blond hair was falling into his eyes. She was wearing a long brown skirt and eating the remains of a Subway sandwich.

It took all my effort to grin quizzically at them, and I was rewarded with cheers and happy hand-flapping.

Who are these people?

Curiosity and gratefulness grappled with my natural aversion to other humans and won. I crossed the street and approached the pair, silently rehearsing what I would say.

I introduced myself, and they gave me names I immediately forgot. Something like Appalaicha and Sunburst. We exchanged pleasantries, and I thanked them for the compliment — it was something I had been needing.

Sunburst — the woman — asked me if I liked to travel.
I said I did.
“Would you like to join us?” She asked me. “We’re on an adventure.”
I asked where they were going.
“We don’t know yet,” she replied with a smile that could put the August day’s sun to shame.

I hesitated.

Could I? Could I pack a backpack, wrestle my cat into her harness, and wander the country with them? Would I see my sister, who was also living as a vagrant? Could I wear the same clothes I wore today for the next god-knows-how-long? Could I leave behind my family, my friends, a fiance I was fighting with, and roam with no destination in mind? Could I shirk all responsibilities and live “free” — however that could be defined? Could I join a pair of friendly strangers and live with no rules except those of survival?

It was a moment. Half a breath, a heartbeat.

I almost said yes.

I almost told them to wait an hour for me to grab what I needed. I almost threw caution to the wind and followed in my younger sister’s footsteps. I almost left behind everything I knew and loved for a couple of strangers and their promise of adventure. I almost changed my already-murky future for one that was entirely uncharted.

I almost did… But I didn’t.

The moment moved on. The breath continued, the heart played another beat.

I politely declined, saying I had travel plans of my own involving school. I thanked them for the offer and went on my way.

On the walk home, I saw Appalaicha and Sunburst waving at me from the back of a little blue car, their smiles brighter than the August sun.

I almost hailed them down to say I changed my mind.

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What was something you almost did?

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18 thoughts on “Almost

      1. Unfortunately, I would have no idea how to wield such a weapon were it to ever fall into my grasp..

        Haha, there are plenty of reasons to almost go to a concert. I had to miss out on one recently, too.

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      2. So I’ve heard.

        It was a rock-band conglomerate concert. It was supposed to be a two-day event with a bunch of my favorite bands. What kind of concert did you have to miss out on?

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      3. How am I to be blamed for this? I didn’t even know you!

        But, next time there is a rock band concert that you may not attend that I somehow am aware of, I will insist that you go. 😛

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  1. I know of a couple that gave up everything they had. He was an engineer and his wife worked too. They sold everything to move to the ocean. They bought a boat and a slip and that is where they live now. It was their dream and they made it happen.

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    1. I know of several people who have done something like that, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. It’s not easy to change your entire life as you know it for something so completely and utterly different.

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      1. My twin brother is doing this right now. He has lived in Maine for many years. He finally just said enough is enough of this cold weather and is going for interview in North Carolina tomorrow. Everything for him is going to change in a big way.

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  2. Oh, I know that pull… You described it so simply and lyrically.

    I almost broke up with the man I married. I almost ran away to Ohio when I was 16. I almost had a career leading wilderness expeditions six months out of the year. I’m really happy now that I didn’t do any of those things… but the adventure job tugs at my head/heart sometimes.

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    1. Ooh the wilderness expeditions sound fun.. I can see why that would pull at you.
      I’m also glad I didn’t a lot of things I almost did. But sometimes the memory likes to waggle the opportunity in front of my face and say, “This is what you could have had…”.

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