“If life came with a Reset button, do you think you’d ever have the courage, or maybe the total lack of hope for your future, necessary to push it?” Aaron hit her with the heavy philosophical question after taking a long sip of his Snapple.
It was another frigid January Sunday in Maine, and Aaron and Holly were the only people crazy enough to brave the ridiculously negative wind chills. They were bundled up against the elements on their favorite bench, and stared out at the thick sheet of ice that had replaced their usual river view.
“Does pressing the button mean a complete factory reset, or do you get to retain any of the knowledge you accumulated in your current life?” Holly countered and then drank some of her coffee.
Aaron answered without hesitation. “Completely starting from scratch. I mean, maybe you’ll have these vague memories, which you’ll think are dreams and might even drive you to therapy as you obsess over them when they refuse to fade, but you’d essentially be a whole new person learning as you go.”
“Then, no,” she finally replied. “The only reason I’d ever want to go through childhood, puberty, and high school again would be if I could do it knowing what I know now. The fact is, my life isn’t that bad. If I were to reset it, I could end up in a truly dire situation. There are too many variables at play, and I have this sense the Fates would mess with me for daring to undo what they originally had in mind for me. What about you?”
“Now that you’ve put it that way, being a white male in the United States with good health, an education, and a roof over my head isn’t anything I should be in a rush to trade in for the life that could be waiting for me behind Door Number Two…”
Holly chuckled at his honesty. Aaron always had a unique perspective on life.
“Let me pose an alternate scenario,” Holly suggested. “What if you could travel back in time to a key event or turning point in your life and do things differently? Would you do it?”
“I’m a sucker for time travel, so I would do it for sure,” he explained. “My only problem would be selecting the proper event from which to reboot the franchise. I’m assuming we would then have to live out our life from that moment, and that when time travel was invented, someone simultaneously came up with a way for us to be the exact age we were in the moment we travel back to, while also keeping all the knowledge we currently have.”
Holly nodded. “To defeat the whole ‘Two Versions of You Existing in the Same Moment’ conundrum, the time traveling version of you would simply replace the version in the time line.”
“Obviously,” Aaron replied. “It is very tempting because I do often obsess over my horrible life choices and wish I could have a second chance.”
Holly flashed a beautiful smile because she was usually the one on the other side of the conversation when Aaron lamented the aforementioned horrible life choices.
“Remember, there’s no guarantee that fixing one mistake will give you the life you wanted,” she reminded him. “You’d start down another path that could be riddled with dangers. Maybe you don’t marry your ex-wife, but you get hit by a car on your way to a date with someone new. Perhaps you finally get the screenwriting career your always wanted, but are killed one day on set when a light falls on your head.”
Aaron stared at her for the longest time. “Time traveling Holly is a very dark version of you.”
She giggled. “I just enjoy playing Devil’s Advocate. It’s how I remind myself that every choice I’ve ever made has gotten me to this exact moment, in which I am alive and well and fairly content.”
“You’re shivering on a bench as we stare out at the obvious arrival of The New Ice Age,” he informed her with a mischievous grin.
“Are you implying that there’s any choice I could ever make in my time travels that would make it any warmer in Maine in the middle of January?” she challenged.
“Not at all,” he replied. “But you might end up making a choice that eventually leads to your living someplace tropical and far from the wrath of Snow Miser.”
“And risk not ending up best friends with you? Then I’m out!” she announced loudly and then stuck out of her tongue at him and laughed.
Aaron polished off his Snapple, and placed the empty bottle on the bench between them.
“I actually have a solution for that,” he surprised her by saying anything other than the expected wise ass comeback. “We’d travel back in time with letters telling us to meet up at this very bench at a certain date and time. The letters would stress the dire consequences of missing that meeting, and since they’re from our future selves, we’d know not to ignore the warnings.”
Holly nodded. “That would work. I’m impressed that you’ve thought this through.”
Aaron shrugged. “I have a lot of free time as a single guy, and much of that time is spent working through various time travel scenarios.”
“At least it’s time well spent,” Holly giggled.
Aaron simply rolled his eyes and went back to staring at the frozen river.