Publish Novellas 13 April 2022
EPISODE 3 – DESTINY
As life takes shape, there are many decisions to make, like when to get married, where to live, and when to raise a family. But what will be the outcome?
With an income that’s not dependent upon location, Nicole wants to move away from the big city. Now it’s decision time. Are they ready to settle down and raise a family?
“Nicole, do you have in mind where you would like to raise our children?” Ronny asks.
“I don’t know for sure,” Nicole ponders. “Here’s an idea! Wouldn’t it be great to take a train ride across the country? We might even stay in a few bed-and-breakfast inns. It would be exciting to map out the journey. In the process, we can find the ideal place to settle down.”
Suppressing his desire to complete his education at a college in the southern part of the state, Ronny opens his mind to exploring what else is out there. “All right. Let’s do it,” he replies.
After one month of mapping destinations and another month for booking accommodations along the way, the journey begins.
On the western end of the country, they snake through San Francisco, Oregon, Seattle, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona on trains and metro rails. Then they fly to Atlanta, Georgia and finally, Raleigh, North Carolina. Upon their return, they have much to compare. Of all the spots, Nicole falls in love with Atlanta.
Ronny romantically proposes while having dinner in Atlanta. “I am so much in love with you and my life is better with you.” Bending to one knee while a waitress holds a lava cake in the background, he continues, “Will you be my wife forever?” as he opens a ring box.
“Yes, of course, you fool,” Nicole replies. “Now give me my ring!” she shouts with a smile.
Ronny then jokes, “Oh, this ring? It’s for the waitress. The lava cake is for you.” She punches him in the shoulder. After he rises from his knee, they kiss. As restaurant diners applaud, Ronny slips the ring on Nicole’s finger.
The waitress congratulates the newly engaged couple while setting the single-serving cake on the table with two spoons. They share the dessert under the illumination of a candle while soft music plays in the background.
Later that night, Nicole phones her best friend from college, Jenny, asking her to be the maid of honor. When Nicole phones her parents, they begin circling dates on a calendar with the main event occurring within a few months. Her family helps finance a large California wedding for their only girl.
When making out the guest list, there is much debate on whether to include Nicole’s aunts.
“Because of their past interference in our lives, I would feel uncomfortable with their attendance,” Ronny objects.
“But their absence would raise more questions than their presence. My father holds them in high esteem for keeping me focused on education,” Nicole reasons.
“Well, if they are there, I will try to be cordial with awkward friendliness.”
“That’s the best we can expect. I am certain that they will not be all up in your face. Just mingle with other people.”
Ronny suppress his objections and focuses on his beautiful bride at the wedding. They enjoy a wild and sensual honeymoon in Maui before returning to Northern California.
The newlyweds hire a realtor and purchase a home before relocating to Atlanta. An advertising agency hires Ronny full-time. He is happy to be bringing in a steady income. All the pieces of his dream life are falling into place.
Tuesday is movie night for the couple so much in love. They snuggle on the sofa and watch film noir classic mysteries. Twice a month is date night at a fancy restaurant. For exercise, they ride bicycles for five miles on the weekends.
After two years of marriage in Atlanta, Nicole becomes pregnant. So one of the bedrooms will become the nursery.
Nicole converts another bedroom into a home office for writing. She uses the trimesters to author her third book. Her publishing agent assures her that the timing is right and the royalties will be abundant. By now she has a following, so this novel is also well-received.
Ronny is fond of the name Garrett for their son but Nicole prefers a name with African descent. So they agree upon Kyauta, meaning gift. Grandparents fly in to orchestrate the baby shower and welcome the newborn.
The couple attends lamaze classes and has a hospital bag packed by the eighth month. It seems this is the life Ronald should have had all along. When Nicole’s water breaks, the happy race to the hospital begins.
Placenta previa presents unanticipated challenges during birth. Doctors are able to save Kyauta but Nicole does not survive. Her parents, along with Ronny, are devastated. All the happy preparations funnel into sad funeral arrangements.
Virtually void of religion and without a church home, Ronny considers a simple service and cremation. His father-in-law wants an elaborate funeral procession and expensive casket. He suggests including an invitation for her book fans to attend and pay their respects at a local cemetery.
Ronny’s mother-in-law wants to keep the service small. She suggests flying Nicole’s body back to California for burial at the cemetery where the rest of the family has plots.
“Her cemetery plot should be close to Ronald, so he can visit regularly,” the father says. They compromise and have a non-denominational service at a local mortuary with family before burial in a crypt.
At the house, the parents offer to stay a couple of weeks or take Kyauta back to California during the transition. Grieving Ronny is unable to decide so they remain for a week before again offering to take Kyauta with them.
“We are getting along in years but Nicole’s father has retired from the military. So both of us are home. We will also have assistance from my sisters,” Nicole’s mother suggests.
“I cannot work full-time and care for an infant. So, for now, perhaps it is best that you take Kyauta to California,” Ronny says to Nicole’s parents.
Ronny, left in a large house with no family, lets out a loud moan. He is being sucked into a vortex of despair.
Then he hears a voice calling his name. It is faint at first, but then becomes louder. “Ronald! How are you doing? Ronald, do you want to end the session?” asks Dr. Beverly Richardson.
“Yes! Get me out of here. You killed her! Oh, my God!” Ronald cries.
Disabling the equipment and leading him to a comfortable sofa in her office, Dr. Richardson offers Ronald some cool water. “You are perspiring. Just rest for a moment.”
After five minutes, the doctor continues, “That’s better. Your heart rate was quite elevated. Now, if you can, focus on the positive aspects of the experience.”
“How accurate is that virtual machine?” Ronald asks.
“There is a ten percent margin of error. Stay with me, though. Proper reorientation is important. List the positive events that occurred, please.”
Pausing, Ronald says, “I married her…. We seemed happy. We had a large home and a… son. A son…, Kyauta.”
“Those are all fantastic accomplishments. Obviously, there was at least one tragedy.”
“Yes, I lost her during labor! I didn’t know how to take care of Kyauta… so Nicole’s grandparents and aunts took him away.”
“That must be devastating to experience in mixed reality.”
“It was so real. Without any knowledge of an alternate future, I felt powerless.”
“Remember that your pivotal moment was nearly a lifetime ago. Many individuals in your experience have no influence on your life now. They have moved on with other pursuits or have passed away. Weigh this experience with your real life and decide if you are better or worse off.”
“Before, I only fantasized about the bliss of unfulfilled possibilities. My fond memory from the alternate life is traveling to various states. But there were some disappointments. If that outcome is accurate, both Nicole and me are better off with the paths we chose.”
“Anxiety over past decisions can gnaw at us like a movie cliffhanger without a sequel. Our mind goes over and over the details without the satisfaction of a conclusion. You now have a resolution.”
“Yes… I do.”
“Then overall, this experience has been good for you, right?”
“This will conclude the session. Mr. Jackson, thank you for coming in. I am going to schedule one more followup appointment next week to see how you are acclimating. If you feel that you require further counseling, do not hesitate to call. In the meantime, please do me a favor.”
“Continue to nurture appreciation for your current life.”
Do you feel that Ronald Jackson is better or worse for reliving the past? If you had an opportunity to revisit only one moment in your life, would it be to correct a missed relationship opportunity or make a better a financial decision?