You wake up the next morning. This time your bed is not empty. You smile at her and she smiles back. For the first time in a long time, you feel happy.\n[[Call in sick]] to work and stay with her?\nWhat are you doing, [[go to work]]. This was a mistake.
Her apartment is beautiful. She apologises for the mess and chaos, but the chaos is beautiful. Canvases and paint fill her small studio apartment and the paintings are breathtaking. So much colour and life.\nYou laugh and talk over wine. She moves in to kiss you.\n\n[[Kiss her]] back?\nYou shouldn't be here, go home to your [[kids]]!
You wake up to the sound of your alarm. It's 7am. The bed is empty. Its time to start the day. You dress, shave and spray on after shave. The expensive after shave your wife bought you for your first day of work where she smiled and jokingliy told you it would make you ten times more attractive and manlier. A smile appears in the corner of your lips. You head down to the kitchen to find your 6 year old daughter, Samantha, eating breakfast and watching cartoons. You're eldest daughter is no doubt fast alseep still. You quickly eat the breakfast that's been cooked for you on the bench.\n\nYou realise you're going to be late to work, but Samantha is still in bed. You kiss Samantha on the head and say goodbye. [[Wake up]] your daughter and risk being late or you [[head to work]]?
You work non stop until 8pm. The other employees left hours ago. This will surely look good to my boss. You head home.\nThere's a plate of dinner in the oven for you. You eat and head to Samanthas room. She's fast asleep. You go to Lauras room to find she's in the same position as when you left her. She's always hiding in her bed. After everything, you don't blame her.\nYou head to your study and get started on your [[work]].
Taking a seat at the cafe, the blonde lady you see every morning comes and takes your order. She smiles at you. You find her attractive. \nYou go up to pay and she hands you your change and receipt again with that same smile.\nAs you leave the cafe, you look at the receipt to find a phone number and the name Elise written on the back. You anxiously rub your wedding ring on your finger.\n\nThis is silly, You throw the [[receipt]] in the bin\n\n[[You put the receipt in your pocket...]]
You get to your desk and just like every other day, it's covered in piles of paperwork. You sit down and brainlessly get started. You think back to yesterday when your boss called you to his office and told you, you were in the running for a huge job promotion. One that would change your life and make you rich. It's all that keeps you going. No time for distractions. You HAVE. TO. STAY. FOCUSED. \n\nIt hits 1pm. A guy from work comes up to your desk and asks you if you want to go grab lunch from the cafe nearby.\n\n[[You've been working hard, so you get up and follow the guy.]]\n\n[[You want this promotion, there's no time for breaks. Think of how this will benefit your family.]]
You continue off with your everyday routine, wake up, go to work come home. You try spending a little more time with your daughters as you did not get the promotion. You tell Elise you can't see her anymore as you're not ready.. "maybe oneday" you tell her.
The train is jam packed with men and women in their dark business suits. Everyone the same. No one smiling. No one talking. Just staring into the distance or a their phone screens.\n\nYou jump of the train and walk along the footpath. Past the same old fruit stand run by a little old italian man. Past the same homless man who holds out his empty cup to passerbys, looking for money for alcohol no doubt. And past the same old cafe with the same blonde lady cleaning the outside tables.\n\n[[You walk into the huge building where you work.]]
You hesitantly go up to him and ask if he's okay. He says nothing. You feel bad for him, place $50 in his cup and go to walk away. He starts to speak to you. "Wait" he says. You crouch down next to him and he smiles. "Let me give you some advice" he says. He then spends the next 30 minutes telling you about his life, how he was once a young successful business man who had it all. A beautiful wife and kids and a lot of money. He became greedy. He needed more money. He let his work and quest for money come before his family, telling himself it was for the good of his family. His wife then left him taking his kids and eventually marrying someone else. He never saw his kids or made time for them. Eventually he started using drugs, business went bad and his whole world fell apart untill he had nothing. \nHe asks you if you have a wife and a kids.\nYou reply "I do. I have two beautiful daughters and a wife"\nWith a sigh you add "...sadly my wife was taken from us less then a year ago.."\n\nThe man apologises and says "Put your daughters before everything. Spend every second you can with them, they need that far more than money. Don't lose them.\n\nYou thank the man, give him the remainder of your cash, and [[get moving]] to work.
The next day, you wake up and the same routine begins again, but this time you have a new job. You walk past the same fruit stand with the little old Italian man, as you keep walking you notice that the homeless man is no longer there...\nYou wonder where he is but are not too bothered.\n\nThe next few months you spend tirelesly working, long, long hours. You barely see your kids anymore, But you tell yourself you're doing the right thing by your kids. \nThings get tough, your kids are troubled at school and you often get school teachers calling you up, telling you your kids should go to counselling.\nYou're misserable. You want HER back. "Why did you leave us" you whisper in your empty bed. You rememeber the day cancer took her. Her beautiful face. Her voice. Her smile.
The next day, you wake up and the same routine begins again, but this time you have a new job. You walk past the same fruit stand with the little old Italian man, as you keep walking you notice that the homeless man is no longer there...\nYou wonder where he is but are not too bothered.\n\nThe next few months you spend tirelesly working, long, long hours. You barely see your kids anymore, But you tell yourself you're doing the right thing by your kids. \nThings get tough, your kids are troubled at school and you often get school teachers calling you up, telling you your kids should go to counselling.\nYou're misserable. You end up going on one or two dates with Elise but you just don't have time for it and it doesnt end up working out.
When you arrive home that night, you can't stop thinking about that piece of paper in your pocket. You feel so guilty. You pull it out of your pocket and stare at it, re-reading the name Elise over and over. \n\n[[Ring the number]] or throw the [[receipt]] in the bin.
She was so gentle and caring, and her humour was all so familiar. You walk her home nearby. She invites you in for a glass of wine.\n\nIt's getting late, you need to get back to your [[kids]].\n\nThe kids will be fine, [[go in]], it's just one glass of wine.
Today was silly, You're [[kids]] are whats most important.
Elise answers. "Im glad you called" she says. You speak for what feels like hours. She asks you to have coffee with her after work tomorrow which you accept. You shouldn't feel guilty, it's just [[coffee]]..
You spend the day in bed talking and laughing with Elise. You feel so comfortable and everythings feels so familair. She's amazing. Eventually you tell her about your family. About your daughters and wife who passed away from cancer almost a year ago...\n\nYou know you've missed out on the job promotion by not turning up. But you don't care. You head home later that night and have dinner with your daughters. \n\nRing [[Elise]], tell her you want to see her again?\n[[Delete her number?]]\n
The day of the promotion decider. \nYou arrive at work and head straight to the meeting.\nYour boss calls you up and tells you, you've been selected for the promotion. He explains it will be a lot of hard work and a lot of extra hours, but it will make you rich and you'll be able to provide for your daughters futures and give them a great life. \n\n[[You smile and humbly accept the offer.]]\n\n[[You turn down the offer...]]
You ring Elise later that night. It's time to move on. \nYou go on many dates. After a few months, she meets your daughters and they love her and she loves them. You all spend a lot of time together, going on adventures to the beach or picnics at the park. You will never forget your wife, but Elises' company has made yours and your daughters lives a lot happier.
You enter your dauhters room. It's dark and the floor is littered in a sea of clothing. A typical 16 year olds room. You push open the curtains and pull the blankets off the bed. Laura groans and tells you she's too sick to go to school. You put a hand on her forehead. She's not overly warm, but you're in a rush so you let her have the day off as you know she'll throw a tantrum. [[head to work]]
You spend your walk to work feeling guilty. What would SHE think? Its been almost a year since she passed. She told you on her deathbed to move on, the girls needed a mother. \nBut it just felt so wrong. There's too much going on in your life. This huge promotion could change everything. No time for a love life, your kids come first and you want to provide for them...\n\nYou arrive at work and head straight to the meeting.\nYour boss calls you up and tells you, you've been selected for the promotion. He explains it will be a lot of hard work and a lot of extra hours, but it will make you rich and you'll be able to provide for your daughters futures and give them a great life. \n\n[[You accept]] the offer...for your childrens sake.\n\nYou decline...you can't stop thinking about [[Elise]]
You come home to your kids. Samanthas already been put to bed. Laura is in bed still. You can hear her crying. You ask whats wrong but she just yells at you to leave her alone.\n\nShe needs space and you've got a lot of [[work]] to do to get this promotion.\n\nGo hug her and [[talk to her]] no matter how much she pushes you away.\n
You wake up next morning. The same routine begins again. packed train, the same old Italian man at the fruit stand, The same homless man on the side of the path. You notice he's shaking and has tears streaming down his face.\n\nGive him some coins and [[get moving]], you cannot be late. Todays the day your boss will choose who gets this promotion.\n\n[[Ask if he's okay]]?
As you hug her she starts balling out her eyes. \n"I miss her" she cries. "I do too" you say tears burning at the corner of your eyes "She's with grandma and all the other angels now, we will all be together again oneday"\nShe continues to cry, "You're never here anymore, you're always too busy with work. We spend more time with the nanny than you. You promise us everyweek that you would take us to the beach but you never do..."\nTears fill your eyes. You lay there until she falls asleep then you [[get moving]] to bed.\n\n\n
Mardi Renehan \n
You spend the day wondering if you made the right choice..\nYou go home early bringing takeway for dinner, send the nanny home early and sit down with your girls. You know you made the right decision.\nThe next day you take them for a trip to the beach. You see them smile for the first time since their mother passed. You promise yourself that you will always put them first and spend every spare second with them.