Prompt: At the age of twelve you started randomly seeing a green line and a red line appear on the ground. You always followed the green line and have lived a successful and happy life. Ten years later you are on top of the world, but bored. Time to see where the red line leads.
I sighed heavily as I looked out the large windows of my corner office. You’d think that I would have everything I needed in life. I live a cushy life with all the luxuries I could want. But my life is boring. It lacks finesse.
My co-worker, Ty, stuck his head into my office, “Come on Claire, Mr. Lyatt has the numbers for the quarter and he wants all of us to meet in the South conference room. Rumor is that it’s really good news and he’s even talking promotions.”
“I’ll be right there, Ty,” I said. “Just give me a moment.”
I looked down at my feet and saw the familiar green and red lines below me. Both led out of the office, but the green turned towards the conference room and the red one turned away from it.
These familiar lines had been a part of my life since I was twelve years old. The winter after I turned 12, I had a bad accident. Me and some friends were out skating on a frozen pond near my house and I fell under. I don’t remember much, but apparently I had been in a coma for three days and when I woke up, I saw two lines before me. They were almost painted on the ground and it was almost like a GPS for my life. Shortly after discovering them, I mentioned the lines to my parents but they both gave me strange looks. My mom said something about the medication affecting me or possible brain damage from the coma, and I never mentioned them again. I was asked by doctors if I still saw these lines and I lied to them saying that they were gone. But they continued to be a part of my life 10 years later.
Some might think that these lines are a curse, but actually they have been a blessing in my life. In the moments after getting out of the hospital, I became curious of what these lines were and where they went, so I followed them. I chose the green line because green usually indicates green things while red usually indicates bad things. I followed the green line after school one day and it led to the nearby woods. I continued farther and farther into the woods until I stumbled on a girl playing by herself. Her name was Christina and we quickly became best friends.
Later in high school, the green line took me to a nearby park where I almost got hit by a stray frisbee. The frisbee belonged to a guy from the neighboring school district. His name was Lucas and we got married 3 years later at the age of 20. The green line had led me to a Pizza Hut where I bumped into Bill Murray who was passing through my city, and it had led to me meeting with the President of Harvard while we were both vacationing in Florida. That meeting led to my acceptance into Harvard. The green line had helped me avoid bad people, bad situations, and altogether it had led me here. I’m a happily married woman, a Harvard graduate, and a fantastic job where I am at the forefront of technology. I have money, a great home, and a great life.
I continued to stare at the green and red lines and I sighed.
I had a great life, but part of me feels like I didn’t earn anything. I almost stumbled my way into success while following the green line. Don’t get me wrong, there were struggles. There were late nights studying for difficult exams, there were sleepless nights where Lucas and I almost broke up, and there were meetings where I almost bombed at presentations. All and all my life was good.
Oh yeah and my idea for smart-car technology has made us almost one billion dollars over the past 6 months. All thanks to this green line.
I stepped out of my office and the green line below me pointed towards the conference room. Many of my co-workers were there laughing and conversing. The green line beckoned me forward towards that room. Maybe there was a promotion in there, maybe it was a pay raise, maybe I’m going to become CEO one day. A young, woman CEO of a giant tech company. That was all possible. All I had to do was follow the green line.
But there was another option. The red line. An option I had considered from time to time, but never took. There was a red line telling me to go to Applebee’s the day I met Bill Murray at Pizza Hut, there was a red line leading out of the chapel the day I married Lucas, and there was a red line that told me to go back to the hotel instead of hanging out on the Florida beaches. This line seemed bad. Like it led me away from opportunities to better my life. What if I just led to other opportunities? What path did the red line follow?
I turned towards the red line and bumped into my secretary, Nancy. Coffee dumbed down her dress and my pants suit.
“Oh I’m so sorry, Ms. Perry,” Nancy said.
“That’s ok, Nancy. Don’t worry about it,” I looked down at the brown stain on my clothes.
“I’ll clean this up, immediately,” Nancy said.
“I’m fine, Nancy, really. I’ll just go to the restroom and clean up,” I said as I stepped past her.
I continued forward and walked past the bathrooms. I continued to follow the red line. It stopped at the elevators. I hit the down button and waited. Nothing happened.
A gruffy looking guy turned the corner and saw me standing there, “Hey, Lady. The elevators are down for scheduled maintenance. Should be up and going in about 30 minutes.”
“Oh thank you, I guess I’ll take the stairs,” I said.
I walked to the stairwell and continued my descent as I followed the red line. The green line was still there pointing towards the meeting room.
At this point I was determined to follow the red line. The coffee spill and the down elevators were just coincidences, right? No, I didn’t believe in coincidences anymore. The green line taught me that. Maybe the red line caused bad things or maybe the universe was just trying to stop my from following the red line.
I walked down all 14 flights of stairs and eventually emerged from the stairwell onto the ground floor. I took one step forward and fell backwards onto my butt. I hit the hard, marble floor with a large thud.
“So, sorry Ma’am!” The Janitor approached me and offered me a hand up. “I was just about to put out my ‘wet floor’ sign.”
“That’s ok,” I said as he helped me up. “I’m fine.”
I kept moving forward along the red line as the man apologized to me just out of earshot. I left the building and turned left in order to follow the red line. I almost fell into a hole in the concrete because I was so focused on the red line. As I walked I noticed that the green line should shift and change. It was almost recalculating and trying to get me to go on a different path. The red line never did that. It changed from time to time depending on where I was and what was going on, but it didn’t jump around this much.
The green line jumped towards several different taxis and then a bus, and then a grocery store, and then towards a coffee shop. It seemed desperate to steer me in any direction other than the red line.
I shook my head. Maybe I was crazy. I was assigning a personality to an imaginary green line only I could see.
I moved forward weaving through the city traffic and eventually I made my way down to the subway station. The green line pointed to the line going North out of the city while the red line pointed towards the line going South towards the suburbs. I took the line heading South. We moved south while the green line pointed North.
I took a seat and watched out the window as we made several stops. I had ridden this train many times before going back and forth from home to work and vice versa, but I have never rode it at this time of the day. In the early morning and late afternoon, it was mostly business people riding the train getting into the city for work, but in the middle of the day, it was emptier. The people who were riding the train at the time seemed sketchier. I clutched my bag in front of me. There was one guy at the end of the train car who was snoring louder than the train itself. Another gentleman kept looking over to me and then back at his phone.
Eventually the red line indicated I should get off the train. This was my usual stop. Where was this line taking me? The green line, however, seemed to loop back to my seat and then farther down the train tracks like it wanted me to continue taking the subway.
I stood up and got off the train onto the subway platform. Just as I was looking around for the red line, someone bumped me from behind. I was knocked forward and hit my knee hard on the cement. My bag was ripped from me and I saw a man run from me.
“HEY! Thief!” I yelled as the man pushed between a few women descending the stairs. In a moment he was gone and I was standing there without my bag, my wallet, or my cell phone.
“Oh great,” I moaned.
Some people gave me sideways glances but none of them asked if they could help me.
I ran up the stairs and looked around. There was a million directions that guy could have went. The red line pointed to my left which led towards my house while the green line pointed forward towards the center of the little suburb. I know there are a few stores down the green path as well as the police station.
I knew I should probably go to the police station to report my bag as stolen, but I was determined to see where that red line went. I wanted to find out.
I turned left and followed the red line. My knee was throbbing and I noticed I had a big hole in the knee of my pantsuit. At this point, I was either too dumb or too stubborn to give up on the red line.
I kept walking forward along the red line and I noticed that it was leading me to my house. I passed the same houses I had passed day in and day out. Eventually the line turned up my driveway and towards my garage.
“It’s just taking me to my house?” I asked out loud. “What’s the point of that?”
I looked down at the lines. The red one led me forward towards my house while the green line led behind me towards the road.
I turned to see that there was a car parked on the road. I knew that car. That was Christina’s car. What was she doing here? Both Lucas and I were at work.
I opened my door and walked inside. There were lights on that I turned off when I left this morning. Was that music coming from the bedroom?
I followed the red line forward to the bedroom and pushed open the door. There in plain sight was my husband, Lucas, and my best friend Christina, having sex. Both naked and displayed in my bedroom.
I. Freaked. Out.
There was a lot of yelling and screaming and I threw a few things. Lucas tried to apologize and make a thousand excuses. Christina stood there paralyzed with just a blanket wrapped around her body. I yelled and told him to get out of my house. He refused and tried to talk me down. I yelled and yelled until my voice went hoarse. Christina hastily put on her clothes and slipped out as Lucas and I yelled at each other. Eventually I had enough and I left.
I stormed out of the house in my dirty, ripped clothes and just started walking. I wasn’t paying attention to the lines which told me to go this way or that way. Eventually the sky grew dark and the clouds unleashed a downpour of water. The green line tried to direct me towards several different stores that probably sold umbrellas, but I didn’t want any umbrellas. I wanted to be soaked by the rain. I was just so upset.
Eventually I found a bus stop and sat down on the bench inside. It was a little shelter from the rain which continued to come down in sheets.
“Stupid, red line,” I muttered as I wiped water from my face which was a mix of rainwater and my own tears.
I sat there for a few moments crying. There was nothing left to do but cry. My husband and my best friend betrayed my trust. I’m going to get divorced. I’ll have to find new friends. I’ll probably lose my job since I skipped out on work today. I had nothing left. Just me and the green line and the red line.
“Ummmm…excuse me, miss? Are you ok?” A gentleman tapped me on my shoulder and I looked up at him.
“No. No, I’m not ok,” I said as I wiped more tears from my face.
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” The man said. “Mind if I sit down to get out of the rain?”
“Yeah. Sure.” I said.
He closed his umbrella and laid it next to the side of the bus stop.
We sat there together for a few minutes of just silence. No buses ran by this stop at this time so we were not bothered by any bus traffic, and the rain kept any pedestrians from coming by.
Every now and then I looked over at the gentleman sitting there. He was busy with his phone but he seemed to have a nervous energy about him. He looked over at me and made eye contact before quickly looking at his phone.
Eventually he broke the silence, “Hey. I…I know this is going to sound crazy.”
I looked over at him, “Ok?”
He looked me in the eyes, “I believe that I am destined to meet you. I…I followed this imaginary blue line today and I found you here. Usually I follow the orange line and its been good to me, but today I chose blue. And I found you.”