The Choices We Make

Submitted for Contest #42 in response to: Write a story that ends with a character asking a question.... view prompt

36 comments

Submitted on 05/22/2020

Categories: General

People make stupid decisions all the time. I'm no different. It's those stupid decisions that give us experience. But in this instance, I am different; because this STUPID decision could've been avoided if I hadn't held myself back and just let the truth run free. I see that now.


Quarantine was over and people started going back to their old jobs. I decided to take a chance at a job that I thought would look pretty decent on my resume. Little did I know, that this job... would change my life. It all started in the office; I was an intern at a dying company. I'm 19 years old, a whole life ahead of me, full of possibilities and I was fueled by... Well, nothing really. This was kind of a "get the money and get out" sort of ordeal. I never really planned on taking interest in this temp job. So I began to trudge through each day, slouching in front of a computer screen to print out meaningless documents; attending meetings that could've been emails. It was a mundane cycle.


Nothing was fueling me. I felt isolated. It didn't help either that the boss was completely incompetent; He was like Michael Scott from The Office, but with none of the redeemable qualities. He'd constantly out me in front of a bunch of coworkers and made passive-aggressive comments towards me during meetings. As if I'm the reason the branch is dying.


He just wanted everyone to like him. I really wanted to stick it to him, but I need the paycheck; I'm not here to make friends. I was just starting to contemplate quitting too. But then, A girl walked through. She must've been like a god sent prayer or something. She just... appeared. In a time of crisis, no less; For me, anyway.


"I heard she's applying for an intern job here..."


I overheard the one of the guys talking over at the water cooler. She couldn't have been over 21. Dirty Blonde, 5"5 with a lean build. Faded freckles cascading over her soft face. Wide, brown eyes, A cute as a button nose, and A sweet smile to go along with a nice body. To me, this was a breath of fresh air. Everybody here was either a 70 year old headcase who hasn't been fired yet in fear of an ageism lawsuit; or a 30 something year old guy who is going through his depressed mid-life crisis phase. So, you can imagine that I thought this girl would become the reason I would start to like work. She was in that little conference room for hours.

"What could they be talking about?!"

I thought to myself.

"She's a shoo-in."

She left the conference room, quietly. Her face wasn't revealing anything. Did she get the job? She looked over into my direction, which inadvertently broke a stare I hadn't notice I was engaged in. I quickly darted away; too quickly, I thought. She let out a soft giggle. I smirked and turned back to look at her. She... smiled at me.


* * *


Days passed, and I wondered if she ever got the job. I hoped she did. I was starting to hate working in a senior living home. I needed someone to confide to. That smile replayed in my head for what felt like forever. It was a cute moment. I had noticed a coworker approach me and put down their stuff in an empty desk next to mine. I slowly looked up to see if I recognize the person. It was HER! As it turned out, she did get the job. And, get this, she was assigned to be MY cube-mate!

"This is a dream come true!"

I thought to myself, I can't screw this up. I needed a plan. Yes, it might seem excessive, but if I were to win this girl over, I wasn't going to leave it to my "quick thinking".


If you haven't picked up, I'm not exactly a "think-on-your-feet" type of guy. So naturally, I came up with a plan. I was going to play it cool for a couple of days; Only responding when SHE said something to me and carefully choosing when to let out the occasional remark about our boss. Then, have a full-on conversation. When I'm ready, of course. Too much? Well, it worked for me.


In those few days, I learned a little bit about her. We were pretty similar in a lot of ways. Both only child's, both misunderstood, both single... That last one was nice to hear. We were getting pretty comfortable with each other, so I figured it was time to initiate the conversation I'd been working up to. Told ya it would work.


"So, why'd you take this job?"

I asked, as calm as possible. She froze for a second, checked to see if anyone was looking around and responded,

"(slightly whispering) Well, I just love the atmosphere! The fluorescent lights, the radon sneakily inhabiting the office, everything about it is exhilarating!"

I paused for a second. Is this girl okay? Is there a carbon monoxide leak in this building? She looked a little appalled about my lack of reaction, so she quickly sprouted with,

"I'm joking. (giggles) You think I actually like this place?"

She said, now with a sweet smile steadily forming on her face.

"No, it's just... You're kinda hard to read."

I said, with a shy tone.

"Hard to read? What's that supposed to mean?"

She retorted back, a little offended.


"Oh, n-nothing... It's just... truth be told, I was a little intimidated by you when you first showed up."

I said, regaining confidence within my voice.


"Intimidating? Really?" She said, with a sense of doubt.

Wow, she could read right through me. What I really meant is that I was too shy to talk about anything non-work related to her.


"Well, that's a first. I'm Lynn."

She said warmly.

"I'm Marc."

I said, finally finding proper footing in the conversation.


"Yeah, when you came in for that interview, I didn't know if you got the job or not."

I said, with a lot more vigor.


"Yeah, I just didn't know if I could get a job at this place. The competition is heavy."

She said sarcastically.


"Yeah, this place is a real drag, to be honest. You're like the ONLY person here who isn't old enough to be somebody's grandparent."

I responded. She let out a pretty loud laugh that caught herself off guard. She quickly covered her mouth, but continued to giggle.


"I think we're gonna have some good times, you and I."

She said to me.


And that's when I felt sparks fly. We began to bond over the next few weeks, and let me tell you; She was everything you'd want in a girl. Understanding, great sense of humor, amazing personality, and pretty good looking too. She was everything I was looking for. We would spend our next few weeks playing around, telling each other stories, getting into deep conversations, and pranking our fellow coworkers. All the while, I was starting to doubt if she genuinely enjoyed our time together. Did she feel obligated to talk to me? I was the only one in the office her age. Is she pitying me? I mean, I'm not a charity case or anything, but I could see her thinking that. So, I guess you can already see the problem. I'm tend to be in over my head, or overthink too much. But I just like to analyze things before I jump into them. I didn't want to force this. I was only putting myself down; As the feeling was mutual between Lynn and I.


But I still kept pondering over some of the more glaring questions. Like, why is someone like her at a job like this? She should be modeling for Vogue, or at the very least, taking up a job at Starbucks. What does she have to gain from this job? Is she working up to becoming a direct care employee for a nursing home? Am I being Punk'd? These questions would sift around my mind and keep me up for hours on end. I couldn't sleep one night because of it.


After going over the pros and cons; which I might add took a lot longer than it was supposed to, I decided to ask the safer questions. I thought, I might as well get some answers. She gave me her address. Cool, cool. This could pick up some speed. She explained to me that she's only here because her dad works here. So that answers that. I was so relieved to here that her Dad wasn't Mr. Boss-man. She was talking about a nearby hotel. A little weird, but I continued to listen. She then told me that she is... going away for a few years to focus on school?!

"What?!"

I thought to myself. This was news to me. I was completely stunned.


"Yeah, it seems like a long time, but I'll be back before you know it. I'll still be here in the summer, though."

She said, reassuringly. Back with a boyfriend, no doubt. But, while she was talking to me, I just couldn't stop thinking. I can't just let her go. I have to tell her how I feel sometime. So, I planned to write a letter. A letter containing everything I was feeling. This proved a challenge, as I'm not the most gifted writer. So, I looked to HER for inspiration; But not directly. I told her it was a letter to a pen pal.


"Isn't that a little outdated?"

She jokingly claimed, and rightfully so. Who even writes letters anymore? I'll tell you who; A guy who really wants to let a girl know how he feels.


"Well, I think any good letter should come from the heart, as corny as that may sound."

She playfully explained.


"No, you're right. It should come from the heart."

I responded. I had all the inspiration I need. I began to write it, but as I wrote it, I noticed that with each passing word, it was becoming increasingly effortless. It was like, I was finally able to convey my thoughts onto paper... because of her. It all made sense. She helped me at work. She was always there to brighten things up. I always found it endearing to make her laugh each day. I became eager to go to work, knowing that she was gonna to be there. All because of her. She's different. She's my everything. She's my...Wonderwall. A little cheesy, but I mean it. I told her I was gonna send her a parting gift.


"Well, it's sorta sentimental. I just don't want something that means so much to be revealed... here."

I explained to her, As I glanced around the depressing office building. She understood. And so, I sent it to her. I can't express how much butterflies I felt in my stomach as I put that in the mail. I knew this was gonna be the turning point. My "Oprah" moment, if you will. It was the last day of work, and I was starting to wonder if she even got it at all.


"So, did you get it?"

I asked, hoping for a positive response.

"Um, no actually. I haven't gotten anything in the mail."

My light smile faded into a pitiful look. I looked down at the floor. She took notice of this.

"But hey, I just want you to know, these past 3 months have been the most fun I've had in a while."

She said, thoughtfully. I picked up my head. Really? I hadn't known she felt so strongly about our time together.


"I was thinking that this job was gonna be the most boring thing ever, but then I met you."

A blip flickered in my brain. I was HER savior; but not in the literal sense. Metaphorically, like I was the one to help her overcome her boredom at work.


"And since then, you've never failed to surprise me. So, thank you for that. What we have, means everything to me. I'll never forget you."

She said, wholeheartedly.


"Wow, I-- uh-- I-I'm at a loss for words."

I said, barely able to speak. I felt so stupid. She poured her heart out, and I just stood there, like an idiot. I felt like I ruined the moment. Just then, she sneakily swooped in to leave a soft, airy kiss on my cheek. I was flustered. She smiled contentedly, and walked to the elevator. As she was standing in the elevator, waiting for the doors to close, She gave me the most sincerest smile I'd ever seen her project. The doors closed, leaving me wanting to see more of her.


I was happily biking home, thinking about the kiss. It was so... perfect. Granted, it would've been a lot nicer on the lips, but who am I to complain? Although it lasted like 2 seconds, It was very telling. And that smile. That smile. That smile will stick with me as long as I live. I'd never seen anyone smile at me like that before. Ever. But the takeaway for me? Those 4 words.

"I'll never forget you."

It resonated with me. I happened to make an impression on her; and because of that, I'll be etched into her mind forever. Still, there was a missing piece. I felt like I was forgetting something. Then, it hit me. I never got to mention THE LETTER.


The next morning, something came in the mail. I was overwhelmed. I was starting to think that it was all coming together. Maybe she got it after all. Then, I saw the 3 worst words anyone could've ever seen. RETURN TO SENDER. I felt a painful jolt shake the pit of my stomach. It never got to her. Then, I remembered. I still had her address that she gave me; so I went to her house to personally give her the letter. I biked there with a fire in my heart. I thought to myself,


"She'll finally know that I feel this way about her! I want her to know that I didn't take these past few months for granted! I wasn't able to tell her how I felt about what she said on the last day. I froze up at the worst possible time. But I'm not gonna choke. Not again. Not EVER."


I got to her house... but I was too late. Her family had already cleared out. The house, completely empty. I was devastated. I thought to myself,

"I was so stupid, I should've just sent it to her in person."


Stupid idea. I hated myself for that decision. But wait! She mentioned the hotel she was gonna stay at before they make the move. Now, this is my last chance. I rushed to the hotel and asked the concierge,

"(pant, pant) I...Is the Jones Family... s-still currently residing here? (pant, pant)"

I asked, gasping for air. I had just biked almost a mile.


"Um... Hold on."

He checked the monitor. C'mon man, I don't have all day! He took a minute before he responded. I took this time to catch my breath.


"Yes, actually. Why?"

The concierge asked, a little shaken.


"Can you send this letter--."

I paused mid-sentence. I looked past the front desk, in the pool area. There she was. Swimming in the pool.


"What am I doing?"

I said to myself. She looked... so happy. It felt... for a moment... as if we were the only two in the world. I wasn't gonna bear the news. Not like this.


"S-sir, um... did you need help with anything?"

The concierge muttered out. I broke out of my trance.


"Oh, um... No, it's fine. I just wanted to know if she made it here safely."

I said. I left the hotel and went back home; feeling sick in the pit of my stomach. I was lying in bed, questioning myself.


Why did I do that? I didn't want to burden her, first of all. To me, it... it just didn't feel like the right time. This type of thing comes naturally. I'll know when I'm ready. Do I regret what I just did? Well, yes. I just passed on sharing possibly the most heartfelt letter I've ever written; just to go back home. Who wouldn't regret that? But, maybe it's for the best. Everything happens for a reason. Bullshit. If that's true, then why do I feel like I just lost a piece of my heart by not telling her? I think it's because I've been harboring it for so long. I felt this way... Pretty much the day I met her. But, I knew what I was getting into. Regrets are expected. I should've known better. I fell asleep trying to think about all the possible outcomes on what I could've done differently.


Now, I only have one lingering question. Should I have told her how I feel? Or don't tell her? I wouldn't try to ruin what we have. So, I guess the real question I'm asking is... Did I make the right choice?

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36 comments

Rhondalise Mitza
21:45 May 22, 2020

Okay, here's your character voice! I love the dialogue and the snapping along pace of the story. You didn't do the CAPITAL letters as much this time which was good. I liked it. :) Maybe split some paragraphs up though? They're a bit chunked together. Anyway, great job and keep writing always! You've got great grammar and I like your storylines. That is a good combination to have, pal.

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Daryl Gravesande
21:46 May 22, 2020

I know, right? I felt this story was a lot more thought out, as the last one was kinda freelance. Thank you for the feedback, though. This is my favorite story by far, so it's nice to know other people like it too. Thanks again, Rhondalise!

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Rhondalise Mitza
21:50 May 22, 2020

No worries! I'd like some feedback too if you see anything that could work better in my stories. :)

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Daryl Gravesande
21:57 May 22, 2020

Okay, I'll read your most recent story and tell you what I think. I can already tell I'll enjoy it!

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Rhondalise Mitza
22:01 May 22, 2020

Fantasssssstic!

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Brooke D. ❤
17:49 May 23, 2020

Hi, Daryl! This story was really good! You did really well with character development with such a small story. I would recommend doing more show-not-tell. You did have some grammatical mistakes. You were descriptive, but you could be even more descriptive by saying that Marc had a sinking feeling in his stomach at certain points. Like he was sick, or similar. Keep writing and stay safe! -Brooke

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Daryl Gravesande
18:30 May 23, 2020

Thanks! I'd like to think I'm a very descriptive person, so that's my style, kinda. Don't worry though. The new story I have in the works has a lot more dialogue, I think. Thank you for the feedback! It's always nice to find ways I can improve my writing!

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Brooke D. ❤
18:35 May 23, 2020

You're welcome! I'm looking forward to reading your new story! :)

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Daryl Gravesande
18:40 May 23, 2020

Thanks! Same to you, if you're gonna write one. Also, what was your favorite part?

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Brooke D. ❤
18:43 May 23, 2020

My favorite part was probably the part where Lynn kisses Marc lightly on the cheek. I really like romance stories.

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Daryl Gravesande
18:49 May 23, 2020

Me too! I HATE romantic movies, but LOVE writing romantic stories. Weird, huh?

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Maggie Deese
01:33 May 23, 2020

Wonderful story!! You had great descriptions and great character voice. I see great potential in your writing skills and this site will do wonders for you if you want to improve that!

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Daryl Gravesande
01:37 May 23, 2020

Thanks! This means a lot. I just started getting into the writing business; so it's good to hear that. Thank you for the positive feedback!

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Maggie Deese
02:18 May 23, 2020

Of course!

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Lara Macgregor
00:30 May 23, 2020

You did a great job making the emotions of the protagonist felt! There were little grammatical things. For example: "...I'll never forget you." She said, wholeheartedly. It should be: "...I'll never forget you," she said, wholeheartedly. You also did well showing the rush of thoughts and your protagonist's anxiety. It came across superbly. Well done!

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Daryl Gravesande
01:22 May 23, 2020

Thank you! I worked really hard on this one. My personal favorite.

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Lara Macgregor
01:28 May 23, 2020

You're welcome! Isn't just so fun to come up with stories? And when you have a favorite, that's even better!

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Daryl Gravesande
01:39 May 23, 2020

Exactly. That's the whole point to me. Enjoying what you're writing!

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Lara Macgregor
01:45 May 23, 2020

Thank you. You too!

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Noor Ahmed
17:03 Jun 09, 2020

I understand why this story is your favorite! The flow of the paragraphs and the dialogue was perfect. Your word choice was amazing as well, keeping me engaged in the story. The ending was very unexpected because I thought that Marc would confess to Lynn. But every story doesn't have to have a happy ending, right? I have no suggestions because this story is superb, and you did a marvelous job writing it! Stay safe! ~noor a.

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Daryl Gravesande
14:27 Jun 11, 2020

Thank you, Noor! I love that you love this story!

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Noor Ahmed
12:35 Jun 12, 2020

It was no problem! You are an astounding writer

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Daryl Gravesande
00:53 Jun 13, 2020

Thank you!

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Rhondalise Mitza
20:49 May 27, 2020

Hey there, I had to switch comment boards again.

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Daryl Gravesande
20:53 May 27, 2020

That's okay. So, what about the rest of the cast???

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Rhondalise Mitza
21:19 May 27, 2020

Not sure! Making dinner with my friend but we’re having a The Office marathon tonight. :)

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Daryl Gravesande
21:31 May 27, 2020

Tough!!!! The Office is THE BEST!!!!!!!

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Daryl Gravesande
13:59 May 24, 2020

If you like this story, be sure to check out Avery Mason. She's an amazing author, so I'd really appreciate it if you do that! Thanks!

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Kathleen March
22:14 May 22, 2020

There's a lot to this story, which sounds a little like a screenplay (not a bad thing). Maybe more showing and less telling Tighten up the description, look for original ways to get the ideas across, and you'll get even better. One note: it's shoo-in, as in shoo fly. To shoo is a verb, maybe old-fashioned, but still lovely. Good luck.

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Daryl Gravesande
22:18 May 22, 2020

Oh... Thank you for the grammar correction! I was stumped on how it was spelled for a while. Thanks, I was really going for a screenplay type thing. If you've read my bio, you'd know that I am also an aspiring director and actor as well. I was planning it out as if it was (emphasis on was) a screenplay. Sorry, I can't do italics in the comment section. I love your feedback, though. It was much needed and I appreciate it!

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Kathleen March
23:25 May 22, 2020

I really got the screenplay aspect. Just think, though, how to use the dialogue to convey that. Quicker, with less description. I should note that I've published lots on literary criticism, not on works in English, though. I can't help commenting, because it was what I did when teaching lit. My intention was to support you.

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Daryl Gravesande
23:30 May 22, 2020

Thank you for supporting me! I greatly appreciate it!

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21:58 May 22, 2020

I totally agree with Rhondalise! You were also very descriptive! If you would like to become an even BETTER writer than you are now, I would recommend Grammarly! I hope you can also check out my stories too!

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Daryl Gravesande
22:06 May 22, 2020

Thanks for the feedback, Avery! I always wanted to try using Grammarly, but never had the chance. I'll be sure to leave a comment on your most recent story!

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