If Only

Qualified Entry: Fiction Category

By: Sherilyn Blanchard

“To a great year and many more to come.” a man said as he raised his glass in toast.

“To a great year!” echoed the guests as they raised their champagne glasses in reply.

The New Year’s party went on with lots of music, dancing, and plenty of conversation to go around. Many more corks were popped. To someone just passing by, it might have seemed as though everyone was having a wonderful time, but what most failed to notice was one lonely girl sitting in a chair by herself in the corner.

One man did notice her as he was talking to his friends, and was tempted to go over to her and ask her what was wrong. But what would his friends think? They might tell his girlfriend and then what would he say? Would she believe that he was just curious as to what could make a girl look so sad at such a happy time?

She had dark brown hair that was cut short so that it framed her face. Her slender body wrapped in a white sweater and dark dress slacks, her bare feet tucked up her, her shoes on the floor in front of the chair. She appeared about twenty-two, and looked fairly poor by the cheap, blue necklace that fell low across her neck. A jacket the color of white-gold and blue was draped across her lap. She didn’t fit. She was, of course, of lower class. She had a glass of champagne and a book in her hand, but she didn’t seem to be reading and the glass was quite full as though not a sip of champagne had been swallowed. He took one step toward the chair where she sat, but then stepped back. He couldn’t dare approach her if his dignity was on the line.

When he heard what had happened the next day at the office, he was so shocked he just sat and stared at his blank computer screen for an hour and a half. Maybe if he had talked to her, things would have been different. But he hadn’t, and for what? To fit in and be accepted? Such a stupid reason to not reach out a hand to someone in need.

That young lady had decided to throw away God’s greatest gift that night- her life. No one knew the reason why, and nobody ever would. That young girl’s face would show up in his mind from time to time, and trouble him for the rest of his life. Would things have been different if he had just learned her name? If only, if only, he could turn back time and try.