Flash Fiction: Alternatives

Jackson Block was a stay-at-home father, who had long wondered what his life would be like should he have continued working after he and his husband decided to have kids. While he didn’t regret giving up his career on most days, as he found the time spent with their three children some of the best days of his life, he still couldn’t help but think of the alternative versions of himself living out their lives in other universes.

Before kids, he had worked as an insurance adjuster for a small auto insurance firm. While that position itself didn’t offer much in the way for career prospects, he did have it on good authority that he was going to be offered an option to start his own office in a city only three hours from where they currently lived.

And yes, he knew they offered these manager positions to pretty much anyone with a pulse, but it felt to him like this could have truly been the first step toward something big.

But he couldn’t never quite envision what that was.

Jackson was never big on five-year plans. He liked living in the moment. Part of this was because he never felt like he had a great grasp on what could happen next. There were always too many variables. How could one truly know how his life would have been different if he had decided to finish school or if he had gotten married to his high school sweetheart before she left him, claiming she knew he was gay. In hindsight, she might have known him better than he thought.

So, when Jackson sat back and tried to consider where his life could have been if he had only made this one different choice, he couldn’t picture anything. Outside of life continuing on in the same way it had before he had decided to stay at home with the kids. Where he would travel from home to home and repair shop to repair shop, reviewing damage to vehicles and attempting to determine how much the insurance company would pay, if anything, to have them repaired.

In a way, that life wasn’t much different than his current one, where he hauled his kids from location to location, haggling with after school activity locations about how much he should have to pay, working as the local cubmaster and trying to get the treasurer to release their funds so he could pay for the upcoming campout, or trying to make sure to do the grocery shopping while keeping to their increasingly tightening budget.

In fact, the more Jackson thought about it, the more he realized this was most of what life was: bartering. Trying to determine how much money you would be willing to receive for the work you do in order to be able to determine how much money you are willing to pay for services provided by others. The more Jackson thought about it, the more his head spun with the cycle of money going around and around and around and around.

“Money is what makes the world go round!” Jackson sang lightly to himself as he rocked his two-year old daughter in his arms.

Was he going crazy? he wondered. Or was this simply a brief thought experiment that got caught on loop because although he didn’t work a day job, he hadn’t found a time for rest in the five years since he had quit.

Maybe that was it. Maybe he was just tired. Maybe if he just closed his eyes for just one second, maybe then…

In the other room, Jackson heard his husband arrive home and realized he hadn’t yet prepared anything for dinner. It wasn’t that his husband was going to be mad, but that Jackson was just that far off schedule.

How much would he be willing to pay to have some pizza delivered this evening? he laughed to himself.

He got out of the chair carefully, so as to not wake his resting child, his new song about money and its global impacts still playing on his lips as he walked into the living room to greet his husband. I wonder how much I’d have to pay him to get the pizza? Jackson mused.


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