If you ask most people what they would change about themselves or their lives, they could give you a ready answer. Nobody lives without some regrets, and time — being linear — doesn’t forgive missed opportunities. Like fortune, time favors the bold.
Unless you have the dust.
It came to Emma in a canvas pouch, wrapped with twine at the top, alongside a note slipped into her mailbox. For a missed opportunity, the note read. One regret undone. Empty the dust into your palm and blow it into the wind. Note: Only works once.
And that was the crux of the entire dilemma. One regret, undone, but only one. For Emma, it was as much a question of which one. Did she use the dust to whisper a few unspoken words to her dead grandmother? What about that cute guy that she’d wanted to talk to but could never quite work up the nerve? She wished she could’ve gotten that cat at the pet store a week ago, but by the time she scraped the cash together, it was already gone.
There were so many things, little and big, that the dust could change. Emma didn’t know where to start. Instead, she kept it in her pocket as the weeks turned to months. Her fingers threatened to wear the canvas thin as she turned the bag over in her hand.
The thing that bothered her the most was that all the regrets she considered undoing were regrets that she’d learned to live with. She would’ve changed them at the time, when they were fresh wounds and not yet weathered scars. It was a fact that settled heavily on her soul and stayed her hand each time to reached for the pouch, thinking that an unspoken word or misremembered detail would bring about some monumental change.
Instead, the dust consumed her thoughts. Every opportunity felt like a missed opportunity, and while she didn’t regret all of them, they drifted around her mind like flotsam, clouding her thoughts and her judgment with each passing day.
Emma was nearing thirty when she clenched her fingers around the bag and hauled the dust out of her pocket. It was a quiet night on the street, and she’d just watched her best friend, Mike, get onto a bus bound for the west coast without telling him how she really felt.
This was it, that one opportunity missed. She could feel it in her bones.
Still, she hesitated. Just because she could tell someone how she felt didn’t mean it would make a difference. Just because she could make a change didn’t mean that it would change her. She could only think of one thing that did that: The dust itself.
Emma unwound the twine and dumped the dust into her hand. Then, with a breath, she turned her palm over and dumped it onto the ground. She felt a weight lift as she watched it scatter. She regretted not doing that sooner.
In fact, it was the one thing she regretted most.