The Life You Haven’t Lived

Claire tentatively walked through her professor’s office door.

“Take a seat.” The old man spoke coldly.

His office was as cold as his words. Devoid of life. It was the office of a man who’d lost touch with the outside world, the struggles that constantly bite and snarl. Inside he was safe in his academia, outside ‘real life’ was constantly on the attack.

“Sir, if I…” She was cut off.

“Young lady I must say that in recent months I’ve been very disappointed by your contributions. Mediocre essays, rushing in an out of class; I’ve yet to receive a single submission for extra credit! Do you not care about bettering your own mind?” His question was little more than a statement.

“I couldn’t care less,” thought Claire, “If I cared about me at all I wouldn’t be here, trying to juggle university and the relentless demands of raising two children all alone. All I care about is bettering a future for them.”

She said nothing. Why waste breath on a man who’d clearly never experienced the hardships life throws at you? She simply sat and stared at her hands, folded gently in her lap.

“I thought as much,” the professor continued, “In which case I shan’t require anymore of your efforts. We are obviously here for two very different reasons. You’ll receive a B- but you needn’t bother with any further assessment.”

Claire sat speechless.

“Learn what you’re here to learn but don’t sacrifice family in the pursuit of knowledge. Ideas and thoughts disappear the moment you’re gone. I wish I were as courageous as you.”

The professor’s gaze lay squarely on a photograph on his desk. Claire saw a much younger professor, a woman and a boy. The professor’s eyes were different, full of the joy that accompanies surviving life with loved ones. Those young eyes flickered now in the old. In a breath they were gone.

The professor gestured toward the open door.

“That’s one less thing to juggle.” Claire smiled.

A Professor's Office, 1876

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Murphy and Associates

Gregory sat alone in the offices of ‘Murphy and Associates’. A dilapidated building in as great a ruin as the law firm it housed. Gregory Murphy had no associates. Nor did he have any clients. Someone had once tried to console him, “You may not be the best lawyer, but if they were handing out prizes for the worst you’d defiantly win!”

“I wish,” Gregory thought to himself, “if they did hand out prizes at least I’d have something to show for 20 years in the legal game.”

Gregory had been a lawyer for little over 20 years and in that time had never won a case. He was without a doubt the greatest bungler in legal history. Once in a cross examination of a confessed thief he managed to instil such doubt in the juries mind that the criminal was released! He’d lost count of the number of times he’d arrived at the wrong court room or brought the wrong papers with him. He knew it himself, he simply wasn’t cut out for law. It was time to give up.

Gregory stood up from behind his clumsily organised desk and walked towards the door. The sign which was to welcome folks in read ‘closed’ from his side of the door. He took it in order to turn it but it came off in his hand. The suction cup which kept it attached to the glass had come unstuck. Dejected, Gregory simply tossed it aside towards a near by waste paper basket. He missed.

Gregory slouched so heavily that his head was almost lost inside his chest. He opened the door and walked out, never to return.

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Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Write about a time everything did — fiction encouraged here, too!