Life is a series of beginnings and endings. We leave one job to start another; we quit cities, countries, or continents for a fresh start; we leave lovers and begin new relationships. What was the last thing you contemplated leaving? What were the pros and cons? Have you made up your mind? What will you choose?
A short story about little things that make a difference.
It was one of those nights for philosophy, speculation, and wandering thoughts. It was on Tim’s back porch and the stars dotted the night like a distant celestial city.
“Tim, did you ever stop to think that if just one little thing in your life changed it might alter your entire life,” Dick said.
“Yeah,” Tim said. “But it’s nothing I spend a lot of time on.”
“Like, it’s really surreal when you think about it,” Dick said.
“Yeah,” Tim said. “Something as simple as a missing button.”
“What!” Dick said.
“A missing button,” Tim said.
“No,” Dick said. “Something like a major decision. You know like should I go to work at factory or drive a beer truck. Come on, a missing button.”
“It happened to me, Tim said.
“A missing button?” Dick said.
“Sure, changed my whole life,” Tim said.
“No way,” Dick said.
“It was in the first grade,” Tim said.
“A missing button in the first grade altered your life,” Dick said incredulously.
“I raised my hand when Mrs. Oliver asked who could spell ‘Cat,’” Tim said. “I knew so I raised my hand. That’s when it happened.”
“What happened?” Dick said.
“I noticed the button was missing on the sleeve of my shirt,” Tim said. “Mrs. Oliver was about to say ‘Tim,’ but she saw my hand go down so she called on Wayne.”
“And how did that alter your life?” Dick said.
“I wasn’t asked to be on the spelling team,” Tim said.
“So?” Dick said.
“The rest of the class went out for recess,” Tim said. “Normally we would have been having reading class.”
“What’s that got to do with it?” Dick said.
“That’s where I met Bobby Luterbien,” Tim said.
“How did meeting Bobby Luterbien alter your life?” Dick said.
“Well it wasn’t really Bobby Luterbien,” Tim said. “It was his pencil.”
“What about his pencil?” Dick said.
“He dropped it,” Tim said. “And I picked it up.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Dick said. “So you gave it back to him and what?”
“His class already went in from recess,” Tim said. “That’s when I found it.”
“How did you know it was his?” Dick said.
“His name was on it,” Tim said. “His parents were rich.”
“When did you return it to him?” Dick said.
“I didn’t,” Tim said.
“Where’s this taking us next?’ Dick said.
“Our class was called in from recess,” Tim said. “Sally Watkins yells out that I have Bobby Luterbien’s pencil. The teacher thinks I’m a thief. I‘m sent to the principal’s office. They take a closer look at me and decide I should be in a class for less than motivated learners.”
“And…” Dick said.
“I move along with that class for five years,” Tim said. “They decide to introduce music therapy. I learn to play the guitar.”
“I didn’t know you played guitar,” Dick said.
“I break a guitar string and have to go to the musical supply room for another string,” Tim said.
“What happens there?” Dick said.
“I don’t make it there,” Tim said.
“I walk by a class and the teacher is screaming “’Can anybody please tell me what was the first capitol of the United State?’” Tim said. “I stuck my head in the door and said there were actually nine different capitols, but under the current constitution it was New York city. So impressed was the teacher with my answer she took me to the principal’s office for another evaluation. That’s where I met my future wife.”
“She was in the principal’s office?” Dick said.
“Her mother was,” Tim said. “But we eventually met.”
“This make absolutely no sense to me,” Dick said. “Anyone of the those things mean absolutely nothing to you meeting your wife.”
“Of course they don’t,” Tim said. “You have to let me finish.”
“If I’m following you we have about 20 more years of this,” Dick said.
“More or less,” Tim said.
“Can you shorten it up,” Dick said.
“Well, you don’t have to get so impatient,” Tim said. “You wanted an example and I’m giving it to you. Do you have anything to compare with this?”
“What does this all have to do with where you are right now!” Dick said.
“Okay, okay,” Tim said. “Last week it’s open house at little Timmy Junior’s first grade class. He’s in the same exact room I was in. I got my hands in my pocket fumbling with my change. From nowhere Junior’s first grade teacher comes up and introduces herself. I pull my hand out of my pocket and the change rolls all over the floor. Junior immediately springs into action and collects all the change. I’m talking with the teacher. Junior disturbs a lot of stuff that was under the register. I look down. There’s a button. The button. That I lost 25 years earlier.”
“And what does the have to do with now!” Dick said.
“I bent down to pick it up, just than a bullet comes through the window and lodges in the wall. My head would have been in the direct line of that bullet. A guy next to the school was cleaning his rife, didn’t know he had a round in the chamber, and it fired. So you see, it was the button,” Tim said.
“And you said you didn’t lay awake thinking about these things,” Dick said.
“Sure,” Tim said. “You can’t make-up stuff like this.”