Life always changes when you ask, “What if?”


MOST LOOK AT THE WORLD and see what is.

Writers are different.

Writers look around them and see what if.

Life is a great illusion.

Imagination makes it that way.

Writers see the stories that aren’t there.

Then again, maybe they are and no one is looking.

No one is suspicious.

Writers are always suspicious.


What if the lady in the black, kneeling beside the casket, tears streaming down her face, isn’t the grieving widow?

What if she is the murderer?

The rose in her hand is like the love in her heart.

It wilts.

What if the lady in white, standing stoically in the back of the church, smiling a strange little smile, isn’t an innocent bystander, isn’t the lady in black’s best friend?

What if she is the dead man’s lover?

She doesn’t need a rose.

She was his rose.

What if the minister delivering the eulogy, holding the Bible in the air, beseeching God for grace and mercy on them all, isn’t the dead man’s preacher?

What if he’s sleeping with the lady in black?

He’s wearing a rose above his coat pocket.

It’s mostly thorns.

What if the dead man lying in the casket, eyes closed, resting in peace at last, didn’t leave his last will and testament as he had originally written it a decade earlier?

What if he had made a last minute change?

What if the lady in black winds up penniless?

What if the lady in white doesn’t inherit the dead man’s offshore account in the Cayman Islands?

What if the preacher won’t be divorcing his wife so he can marry a wealthy woman in black?

What if the dead man left his millions to a homeless bag lady, living on the wrong side of town, sleeping beneath the bridge at night, eating from tin cans she finds in a trash bin behind a downtown café?

What if she is his mother?

What if she had been his first grade teacher?

What if she once loaned him her last dollar when his business was only a dream?

What if he simply found her name in the newspaper?

Who is she?

Or does it matter?

Or, during one final lucid moment in time, what if he decided to have the last laugh on them all?

He can’t take his money with him.

His wife and lover won’t be able to take it anywhere.

Frankly, I don’t know what’s true.

Or isn’t.

What’s fact.

Or fiction.

I only know that when I walk out of a funeral, I have a better story rattling around in my mind than the one the preacher told at the front of the church.

Same thing happens in an airport.

Or in the back corner of a quaint little restaurant.

Or in a hotel lobby where everyone looks like the usual suspect.

That’s what what if is all about.

It sometimes keeps us sane.

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