Like Tying a Shoelace

“Do you ever wonder how something as simple as tying your shoelace can completely change your life?”

“Um, no. Not really,” my some-form-of-a-date replied as he rubbed the remainder of his cigarette onto a dirty plate.

“Like, what if I were to tie my shoelace, and in that moment something happened that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stopped, bent down, and spent a half-minute or so tying my shoelace?”

“What made you think that?” he asked as he crawled back into his dirty sheets.

“I was coming home late last night and had to tie my shoe and I was thinking that anyone behind me could grab me and easily throw me into the Subway tracks. And that made me wonder what things in my life could have or could have not happened from me having to tie my shoelaces.”

“You think a lot,” he laughed as he grabbed my small body and hugged it into his tall, thin one.

“Yeah, I do.” He began to kiss me, but I pulled away. “Or like what if I tied my shoelace, and that stopped me from running into someone who would have a profound impact on my life? Or stopped me from getting hit by a car or mugged or molested? Or- in an opposing stream of events- make it so those things didn’t happen?”

“Well yeah, that’s all possible. But you can’t realistically spend your days wondering what could be or could have been like that.”

“Yeah. But it’s fun to think about sometimes. For me at least.”

“Yeah. For you at least.”

“Come on,” I cried out, playfully pushing him. “I gave into your sexual advances, so you can give me this conversation.”

He laughed and kissed me on my forehead. “Okay, okay. What do you want to hear? My perspective on the matter?”

“That. Or anything really. Just more than a ‘yeah’ or a logical, factual, terminating sentence.”

He laughed again. “Well, if you think about it a bit more, it seems that something as small as tying a shoelace doesn’t really affect the outcome of your life.”

“True. At least in the majority of cases.”

“Like you could get pushed into the tracks or meet an influential friend or lover or mentor since you took a minute to tie your shoes. But normally you need more than a minute to miss or gain such life-changing opportunities.”

“So I guess that is the reason why we don’t stress about the small decisions, like tying our shoelaces or stopping to open a drink.”

“Yeah, that seems like an obvious reason for why we don’t dwell on things like that.”

“But why we hate making the big decisions that do change our lives. Like moving, or taking a class, or deciding what college to attend.”

“Yup. I believe so.”

“You know, that probably is the main reason why I was always afraid of making decisions, like applying to jobs or moving or committing to a partner.”

“I think you are onto something.”

“I knew that those decisions would change the course of my life and I was too young to feel comfortable deciding on the right one.”

“Now you are getting at my issue with decisions and commitment.”

“Yeah? How so?”

“I didn’t make decisions or apply to jobs or ask girls out because I lacked confidence.”

“Really? But you are a white male. And attractive. Haven’t you been told that opportunities abound for you? Like, as kids, all the presidents and CEO’s and historical figures looked like you. For me, I would look at the U.S. President list and be like, well, that’s not an option for me.”

“Shit, yeah. That’s depressing.”

“And you could get away with things I couldn’t. And were told that despite your looks and personality you could get the girl of your dreams.”

“Yeah, I definitely had that entitlement.”

“So why do you think you were unconfident?”

“Well, feeling entitled to something and believing you will get it are two different things.”

“So, you never believed you would find a great wife and have a great career and live a good life?”

“Fuck no.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. I just didn’t believe I would.”

“But why not?”

“You don’t let up, do you,” he groaned as he flung his arms off of my naked body and repositioned himself onto his back. “I guess I just saw myself as a lazy fuck who smoked too much and played too many video games. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why people found me interesting.”

“Well, you’re talented and sexy.”


“Yeah, you are.” He turned to me, but his gaze was intense so I threw myself onto my back and scanned around his room. It was a large rectangle, dark, barren, and- although dirty- exceptionally organized.

“I should clean a bit, shouldn’t I?”

“It’s better than clutter, in my opinion.”


I turned back to him and let him meet my eyes. “What if either of us never signed up for the coding bootcamp?”

“Well we would have likely never crossed paths. I would continue my unconfident, lonely, jobless ways. And we wouldn’t be laying here, having this post-coital conversation.”

“You’re smart, when you let yourself be.”

“I guess.”

“I don’t think you are as lazy or uninspired as you think you are.”

“As I think I was.”

“Was and are. You said you spent a lot of time the past few years watching documentaries, practicing guitar, and learning new things. That’s productive in a way.”

“Yeah. But I never implemented what I learned until now.”

“Well that’s hard, when you don’t have direction or support. And you need time to grow your skills before you really put yourself out there.”


“And what you did, how you lived, it was different than being lazy. Even when you were passively watching something, it was an informative something.”

“I guess you are right. I was just an unconfident, unrealized mess. Is that better?”

“Yes, much better.” He laughed, so I moved my head towards him and gave him a prolonged kiss on the mouth.

“So?” he whispered as I pulled away.

“So what?” I whisper-asked back.

“So what do you think life would be like for you if you never went to bootcamp?”

“I’d be bartending or working in a cafe and wondering if I could get money off of writing.”

“Do you still wonder about that?”

“Yeah. Of course. But at the moment I need to generate some savings. So I’ll have to wait a bit to realize those dreams.”

“Do you still write?”

“When I can. I’m usually too tired in the evenings. And even if I do write, I have no energy to put into figuring out how to publish my work.”

“Well soon things will be a bit less hectic I’m sure. We just got into this coding business.”

“Yup. True.”

“I do think about this stuff quite a bit, come to think of it.”

“You think about what your life would be like if you made different decisions?”


“Probably most of us do. We just don’t speak about it.”

“I think a lot about what my life would be like if I had felt the need to be married like in our parent’s generation.”

“How old are you? I don’t think I know that. Usually that’s something you know now, from dating apps. But we didn’t meet on an app.”

“Thirty. I turned thirty last month.”

“Fuck. I didn’t know that. I would have wished you a happy birthday or bought you dinner or a drink at least.”

“Don’t worry. I wasn’t being very responsive to you.”

“Why was that?”

“You’re getting straight to the point today. Before, you never asked me questions like this.”

“I didn’t feel comfortable doing so and I didn’t want to give you an idea that I was thinking in that manner.”

“But you were.”

“Yes. I liked you. But you were being the typical unresponsive fuckboy and that turned me off.”

“You didn’t call or text me much either.”

“I’m not really one to chase.”

“I see.” We remained silent, but to lessen the density of our conversation I pushed my body into his. He was receptive, and pulled my torso into his. “I was afraid of you. You have this power to you that scared me. And I figured you would shut me down, and deep, if we had a conversation like this. And that’s scary to someone who isn’t ready to face failure.”

I opened my mouth to reply to this, but I immediately shut it. Although our friendship had progressed to the point of sort-of-dating (which is why I finally felt comfortable having penetrative sex with him rather than just oral sex) he was still struggling with commitment and I wasn’t ready to place my trust and love in him.

“You were about to say something, weren’t you?”

“Yes. I forgot that I can’t hide visual matters with you.”

“I am a very visual person.”

I laughed. “That you are.”

He laughed. “That you aren’t”

“You know, I am glad that we decided to take that coding bootcamp last year and that it brought us together.”


“It was more than tying a shoelace, but it was also just a sporadic decision I made on my part.” I looked up and watched his eyes stare at the ceiling with an intensity I had never seen in him before.

“You know what. It was for me as well. Like tying a shoelace.”

“Maybe that’s fate. A shoelace linking us all together.”

“Unlikely, but maybe so.”

“Yeah, maybe so.”

Thank you for reading my short story!

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(You can also listen to a podcast of this short story from Alternative Stories and Fake Realities)


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