There was nothing else left to do. Marhsa had spent the weekend catching up on her reading, work emails, and calls. Those were easy. She had dawdled to avoid the dreaded task: cleaning up the attic.

It’d accumulated more dust and memories than she wanted to rekindle. As if looking into a different life, she rummaged around with growing queasiness. If only she could forget.

Coloured pencils and glitter paper greeted her. In faded yellow, pink, red, and green, as a long-gone rainbow, were her daughter’s handcrafts. Where the pot of gold should’ve been was the pall of the six-year-old.


The other side

If only her life was as great as Kate’s.

They’d been high school friends, and while Kate’s established father had landed her a job in a conglomerate, Pam’s carpenter father could do no such thing.

“Congratulations!” Pam cried as they met fifteen years later. She was a school teacher and Kate—well, she had a career colleagues, neighbours, and even friends were jealous of. A seven-figure salary, a comfortable house, another new car—it was everything Pam had dreamt of.

Kate said nothing. Under her father’s constant shadow, she couldn’t even treat her friend for dinner without her father’s approval.

The talk

A strange quiet fell throughout the room as the door swung open. Everyone’s heads turned towards her, surveying and judging her capabilities. How much does she know, how useful would this be, they wondered.

She sensed their doubting minds, their disbelieving eyes boring into her as walked into the room. She’d done this a hundred times before. And she’d be doing it many times over. But that didn’t make it any less daunting. Each time felt new, and as she took the stage she dragged stress and self-doubt with her.

And then she delivered the TED Talk that inspired millions.

Thanks for the muse, Today’s Author.

The quitter

When the going got tough, Mark was always the first one to quit. Every argument with friends and colleagues would result in Mark distancing himself from others. At thirty, he was friendless.

This time, however, he was going set it right. He was determined to sit down and talk it through, regardless of how tough it became. Mother was right, of course. This relationship was far more important than all other dismal failures.

At last, he was ready to persevere. With that happy note and flowers in hand, he entered their new home.

His bride of two months had left.

Thanks for the muse, Today’s Author.

The positive outlook

James’s house was in shambles. His beloved had walked out on him, taking their daughter with her. And his last five bets had won him nothing.

It’s not an obsession, he told himself over and over. The first time he bet on a race, he had won nothing, but he’d something invaluable: a lifetime membership in the race enthusiasts club. It was all for the family, but the wife hadn’t understood his passion for money-making. She’d wanted was a low self-esteemed husband at a base wage job.

At least he still had his health, he mused lighting his next cigarette.