Last Regrets

January 3, 2018
By Anonymous

October 6, 2017

“Are you comfortable dear?” my wife, Anna, asks me. I’m too weak to move but the answer is yes. I make eye contact with the statue my great grandmother gave me many years ago. The little sack figure with torn celtic-patterned clothes with two black bead eyes were meeting my slowly closing eyes. My instinct tells me that it’s time. At least I’ve tried my hardest and lived my life to a point where I am perfectly content.
No. Wait. I forgot to do something...

March 29, 1998

“I like this lake house,” Anna says behind me. I nod. It’s not the beach house I was going for, but this option is easier. I can still go out on a boat and this house is even be bigger than the beach houses I was looking at. Room is definitely important. I’d love to be able to have everyone up for the fourth of July.
The overly chipper real estate woman, Elise, walks in the room. She will give it her best effort to make a watermark in the ceiling seem “trendy,” as she called it. “So, what do you think? Is this the house of your dreams,” she asks. I survey the area, my wife’s pleading face, and the plastered smile of Elise. “Sure, I like it,” I said.
Elise’s smile somehow gets bigger. “Great, let me go grab some papers!” she says. The next thing I know, it’s just me and Anna. Alone in the nice lake house that should lead to nice memories.

July 2, 1971


“AAAAHHHHHH!” Emily and Sarah, my daughters, scream and run as fast as they’re legs can carry them. Their fast, but I’m faster. I scoop up Sarah and spin her around. “I’ve got you now!” I say. Emily grabs my leg and tries to anchor me to the ground. Although I’m faster and stronger, my energy is wearing thin. Another reason to remind me I’m getting older.

It’s my 37th birthday and I don’t want much. I’ve been working really hard recently at work since I’ve been promoted to manager at the local auto shop. Now after a full day of working, the sun is going down and I can celebrate with my family. If that means just chasing my 9 and 7 year old girls around the yard while waiting for the pizza to arrive, that is fine by me.

I hear Anna’s car pull into the driveway and my muscles feel instant relief as soon as the girls run off to take a seat at the table inside. While they’re silently devouring their slices of pizza, I take a seat next to my wife. She leans over and asks, “What do you wish for?” As I watch the girls scarf down their pizza, I remember how simple things were back at their age. Back at any age before this one. I wish I could could go back in time.

August 19, 1955
“Welcome to Wilks’ Kennebunk Auto Shop! You need your car fixed?” I ask the woman in front of me. She nods and I open the hood of the car. I work as a car mechanic now. Not really what I dreamed of doing when I grew up, but it’s a solid job. People bring in their cars, I fix them and get paid, and everyone’s happy. As I get to work on the car, oil spills everywhere. I examine the mess that was just made and hear my boss yell, “Mr. Lawrence! Clean that up! I can’t run a business while you’re messing up my shop!” I sigh to myself. What I wanted to be was an author. I always liked writing and letting my mind wander off to fictional places and scenarios. However my grades didn’t show much potential for college and I wasn’t eager to have to pay for it. I grab a mop and say, “Right away, Mr. Wilks.”
Clean this mess, fix the car, and get paid. Everyone will be happy.

January 6, 1954

Lauren Bright. She’s right at the end of the hall. Here I go. The dance is next week and she’s right there in front of me. The stress is building up behind my pile of thoughts racing through my mind.
Just ask her to go with you.
Don’t talk too fast.
Don’t say anything stupid.
Remember to breathe.
I take one step forward and am instantly pulled three steps back. My friend, Phil, is forcing a smile as if he was guilty. “What is it Phil?” I ask. He pats me on the shoulder and says, “Have you asked a girl to the dance yet?”
“No. I’m about to.”
“Lauren Bright.”
“Oh no no no. You want to take Allison.”
“Your cousin?”
“Yep. And there is nobody else to intervene. You do realize that Lauren has already been asked by two other guys and hasn’t decided yet, right?”
“Nothing, I’m just saying that the dance is few days. There’s not a lot of time.”
“I guess you make a good point.”
“Great! I already said you were interested.”
Phil takes off and I’m left alone in the crowded hallway, watching my high school crush kiss a different guy. There goes my chance.

September 8, 1940

“Hey! Owen!”
I turn around and see my best friend, Ethan, chasing after me. Well, “chasing” is a stretch. He's walking as fast as he can without getting stopped by a teacher in the halls. As soon as he catches up, he looks around and whispers to me, “Guess what?”
“Why are we whispering?” I ask. What could be so important that we can't use our normal voices? I wonder what he's about to tell me. Maybe he’s actually a spy on a secret mission and has to travel off to Europe for a year to stop the bad guy. My friend is so cool, that's probably what it is. He may even want me to go with him.
“Because I have a secret to tell you,” he says. Here it is. The big reveal.
“What is it?”
“I took an extra cookie off the counter today. Do you want it?”
I can't help but be even more excited than before. Being a spy is cool, but nothing is better than Ethan’s mom’s cookies. I quickly finish it and step into class and find my seat.
Ms. Morgan walks to the front of the classroom and grabs her attendance sheet. She's kind of pretty. She says, “Alright everyone, settle down! It’s time to take attendance! Ethan Cooper.”
Ethan raises his hand and shouts, “Here!” As she continues saying attendance, I wonder how to make an impression on the class. I could make them laugh. That's a good idea. Everybody loves to laugh.
“Haley Hart.”
“Paige Johnson.”
“Oliver Kopel.”
“Owen Lawrence.”
“Not here!”
“Owen, you just earned yourself one warning.”
Oh no. I'm one warning closer to having to sit out and, more importantly, I feel that the class is laughing at me instead of with me. As she continues, I try to think of ways to recover from Ms. Morgan’s wrath. I could keep trying, but I don’t really want to get in trouble. I never realized that being a class clown is dangerous work. If I get too many warnings, I’ll become a trouble maker instead of a comedian.
This is the largest problem I’ve had in my life! Ms. Morgan says, “Time for everyone to get into reading buddies!” I pair up with Ethan and we get start to read. I’m about to read my page in a goofy voice, but as Ms. Morgan walks around I feel discouraged to. I’ll settle for reading normally now. After all, there’s time to make jokes later.

May 24, 1939
“Oh my goodness! Mary, look at your son!”
I can’t help but giggle. I’m a sticky mess after eating my great grandmother’s cookies. She may be a little upset, but today has been such a great day. I’ve climbed every tree in sight, played in the garden with every plastic goose, and would have eaten every cookie made if the my mom hadn’t said otherwise. Plus, she was a cool great grandmother. She called herself GG.
“Grandma, I’m really sorry. I’ll clean him up right now,” my mom said. She grabbed some wipes and was about to wipe my face, however my great grandmother intervened.
“Clean Owen in a minute. I wanted him to hold this present, but you’ll have to instead,” she said.
“Um, sure. What is it?”
“I want to give you this statue I brought with me from Ireland. You can have it and when Owen is old enough, you can let him keep it.”
“No need to thank me.”
“This is very old, I can’t imagine him ever being old enough to even come within ten feet of it.”
“I couldn’t imagine you ever having children. Also, what do you mean by old?”
My mom is caught with no words, but lucky for her, I had questions. “GG? Isn’t that just a sack?” I asked.
GG laughed. “This is a family heirloom, something that has been in the family for a while. After many years, when you’re older, you will be able to look at this little statue and think of all the things we as a family have done to help you get to wherever you go in the future.”
I didn’t really understand, but I said, “Ok.”
GG said, “However, no matter how hard you’re working, you need to remember something very important.”
“Never settle for just ok. If you’re just fine, you’re not having fun.”
“What does that mean?”
“It just means that you should do exciting things every once in a while. Would you enjoy
doing the same thing over and over again?”
“No, that would be boring.”
“Should I not get a job when I’m older?”
“No, but you should try to enjoy your work and everything you do. You’ll regret it if you don’t.”

The author's comments:

I was inspired by the thought that people’s lives flash before their eyes before they die and whether or not it’s a satisfying sensation. People tend to just settle for fine, and what if that was all their lives looked like in those last few moments.

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