I got a very late start, almost 7 PM, but I managed to post before the 7:30 PM deadline. Lightning speed fiction!
“What is it?” Maura asked as she peered closely at the complicated diagram Elliot had unfolded and spread out on their dining room table.
“It’s a decision tree.” The diagram commanded his attention as he traced his finger along the lines and shapes.
“A decision tree? You mean like those ones they use in computer programming or in business decision-making?”
Maura leaned in to try to read the tiny words printed in the diamonds. Every diamond had two paths leading from it, most marked either “yes” and “no”. Hundreds of diamonds and arrows filled the sheet.
“Exactly like that.” Elliot looked up and faced his new bride. “Here. Look. We met on Halloween two years ago, right?” His finger moved to the upper middle of the page.
Maura nodded but couldn’t hide the wrinkles in her brow. The tiny words under his finger read: “Go to Halloween party?” He traced the “yes” path to the next diamond decision point that said, “Blonde or brunette?”. With a quick lift of his head to wink at her, he traced the blonde path. Maura blushed but bent over the map and replaced his finger with her own and continued to the follow the path of decisions she knew he’d made.
“You can skip all those decisions cause they all end up over here.” Elliot moved to the far right side of the sheet where it said “Get married?” and tapped his finger. “See?”
Maura had lagged behind, refusing to be rushed as she traced a few paths that Elliot had not chosen before venturing back to the path he had.
“Amazing isn’t it?” Elliott’s enthusiasm continued to rise as Maura slowly made her way to the marriage decision diamond.
“Where did you get this?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Some fortune-telling computer service had a listing on eBay like ten years ago. I was the highest bidder. I just gave them the date, place and time of my birth and this is what they sent.” He smoothed out the sheets but kept the rightmost side still folded accordion style.
“Have you read ahead? To see what future decisions might come up? So you can better plan your actions if you know the consequences?” Maura’s fingers toyed with the edge of the schematic that ended at the folded edges of Elliot’s future. A cold chill had seeped into her spine.
“No. Can’t do that. I’ve tried before. If I peek, the decisions all change to new ones, so there’s really no point.” He shrugged. “Weird, huh?”
A single tear rolled down Maura’s cheek. She lifted her eyes to Elliot. “I’m not really a blonde.”