Choice by Joseph A. Todd

Joseph A. Todd is a writer of politics, culture and every day philosophy residing in London. He is currently working on his first book, scribbling his way through more articles and searching for an excuse to explore far flung corners of the world.

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In this world you walk into the supermarket and there are twenty two different types of cereal to choose from. You go to pay and choose between cash or card - debit, credit or loyalty. You exit the shop (through one of four doors) and are swarmed by taxi drivers telling you their car is faster, cheaper or better air conditioned. You get the bus and the driver offers you different tickets - would you like standard, luxe or first class. Dithering, you end up in a heated seat with extra leg room.

You unlock your front door and crunch over letters and leaflets - accountants, investors, takeaways and gardeners - all plying their trade, giving you options. Your partner has spent the morning weighing up where you should go this evening. It is your anniversary of course and you’d decided to choose something together. He scrolls down the listings, “324 events in London”. Films, plays, gigs and opera. Street markets, food festivals and gallery exhibitions. You make a coffee, plumping for fresh over instant, and settle down to help him.

An hour has gone by and no luck. You get up to make lunch and think omelette or soup. There are no eggs so back to the supermarket - free range, caged, organic, outdoor reared or reared outdoors? You pay and take a taxi. The air conditioning is broken. Finally the omelette is cooked and served to your smiling husband, still deliberating about tonight. You chew and wish you’d had soup, suggesting perhaps the theatre would be nice. Comedy, romance, farce or tragedy? And what about for dinner? Mexican, Thai, Tapas or French? Your husband prefers Spanish, he has a thing for faux bohemian interiors, but the reviews are muted. You scan the menu of another, swaying between the fifteen different choices of fish.

Your mood starts to darken so you run a bath, not caring it is three in the afternoon. Deciding between jasmine or lavender oil is difficult so you mix the two. The result smells somewhere between a baby and a brothel. You sink lower, close your eyes and feel the tension in your shoulders. The water becomes tepid so you run more - it turns too hot.

The evening arrives and you are making yourself up. Hair up or down? Dress long or short? Jewellery gold or silver, understated or lavish?

You sit eating your sole coveting both your husbands beefand the dark tanned man flashing you looks from behind his back. After the meal you stumble away from the table, wishing you’d worn flats, knowing an Irish coffee was pushing it.

You take your seat, thinking it a shame you booked too late for the front row, and the curtains lift. The performance is funny but you can’t help think the opera may have been more romantic. Afterwards you drift from bar to bar hoping the next will be more lively. You get home, have sex and wish he’d been a little more rough. Exhausted, head finally on the pillow - your day plays through your mind. Not what you did, but all of those things you didn’t do. All of the things you didn’t see, buy, eat or sleep with. All of those choices you didn’t make. Every one a regret, an avenue unexplored. You start to drift off, vaguely wishing somebody would just carve a path for you, one that is straight, simple and lacking in options.

The last words you hear are the murmurs of your husband – “Darling, lets go out for breakfast tomorrow, your choice.”



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