The choice

Audio version of this story can be found at:

An individual is given a choice. They are either given a week to live where they are able to explore the most amazingly wondrous things and experiences in the universe. And to do something incredibly meaningful. Or they can continue on with the rest of their life as it is.

Meaning, or life, that was the question. So many people asked about the meaning of life, that was no longer relevant for me. The mysterious white robed individual before me was being very tight lipped about the details. He wouldn’t say where we would go, or what we would do, only that the places would be wondrous, and the things meaningful.

Meaning, or life. A week to live, wasn’t much time. I would never get to meet true love, watch my children grow up, or even graduate college for that matter. What would my parents say? I had two of the most loving people in the world to call mother and father, and they would now be forced to bury their own child. I couldn’t imagine what that would feel like.

But the places I would see! Could it be we would travel to the center of a black hole? Or to another world with an alien civilization? I gazed around at the white mountain top temple I had found this white robed wish granter in. The place was vast and ancient, it certainly seemed to be able to deliver wondrous things. I gazed piercingly at the mysterious figure whose arms were crossed and whose eyes were unblinking. I would get no answers from him.

Meaning or life. I would also do something wonderful, cure cancer, solve world hunger, create a lasting international peace. I would cause pain to a few yes, but so much joy to so many. For that reason alone I must choose meaning or life. My life’s goal was to have meaning, so really there was no choice.

Meaning it was then. The wish granter didn’t need me to speak, he had read my mind, and nodded before snapping his fingers.

The week flew by in a flash, but not how I had anticipated it. There were no scientific wonders or spectacular views. The first place I saw was a California beach. No future technology, no aliens, just a regular beach. I waited for a second to see if Poseidon would rise up for the depths or something, but nothing happened.

The white man and I were sort of hovering halfway out into the ocean like a couple of ghosts that no one could see. I was about to ask him for a refund, until I heard a cry for help from far out in the ocean, and a young man streak out into the waves.

I looked to see where the cries for help came from, and saw a lady about a hundred yards out, being pulled by a riptide. She was losing her strength and starting to sink when the young man reached her, and pulled her up. He could barely keep the two of them afloat, much less bring them back into shore, and the riptide was pulling them further out.

I wanted to cry out for someone to help them, thankfully the lifeguard on duty had seen the whole thing and had sent for help. A small raft was making its way towards them.

Just like the young man the boat arrived just in time. Unfortunately there was only one seat on the boat, which the heroic man gave to the woman. I bit my lip as he began to visibly struggle to stay afloat.

The man continued being pulled further out to sea. By the time the boat made it back, the hero had went under.

The entire week I didn’t see a black hole, or an alien civilization. I saw medals of honor being earned, husbands sacrificing themselves for their wives, wives sacrificing themselves for their children. I saw proposals, births, weddings, and also funerals, and deaths. At the end of the week I knew I had truly seen some of the most incredible things that had ever happened.

I had no regret when the seventh day had passed and I turned to my escort and asked him. “Alright, I’m ready, what am I to do.” For an answer, he snapped his fingers.

I found myself on a California beach, and heard a woman being carried out by a riptide cry for help.

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