The presents had been unwrapped, the other guests had all gone home, and the kitchen had been cleaned up from the party. All Corinne Markham had to do before she headed home herself was kiss the birthday girl goodnight. It didn’t matter to her that Alicia, her eldest granddaughter, was now a teenager. As far as she was concerned, you’re never too old for a kiss from your Grandma.
“I hope you had a good birthday, sweetie,” she said after giving her granddaughter a quick peck on the cheek.
“I did Grandma, and thanks for my present. I can’t believe you got me the phone I asked for!” Alicia said with genuine excitement and gratitude.
“I know what a lifeline those things are to kids these days. It’s funny, you know,” Corinne then said before pausing.
“I almost owned a stake in the company that made your phone.”
“Seriously?” a wide-eyed Alicia asked. “Grandma, you would have been rich! What happened?”
With a healthy dose of ‘oh well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be’ so as not to sound bitter, Corinne told Alicia how she walked away from millions.
She had been working downtown at a small electronics store when her boss brought in a new guy. He was a huge nerd who kept going on and on about how computers were the wave of the future. He was going to start his own company one day he told her, and she could get in on it with just a five hundred dollar investment.
“So how come you didn’t give him the money?” Alicia asked.
“That was a lot of money for me back then. I went back and forth, weighing the pros and cons over and over for weeks. I could play it safe and tell him no, or I could risk it all.”
“How did you end up deciding?”
“I slept on it, I guess you could say.”
And as Corinne slept, she had a dream. In it, her boss warned her that his brother was looking to hit somebody with his car. He thought it would be fun for some crazy reason, her boss said. She asked him what sort of car his brother drove, so she’d know what to look out for. It’s a white one, he said. Could you be more specific, Corinne asked. He then pulled a picture out of his wallet and said, here it is. Only what Corinne saw was a group of Mounties in their dress uniform, riding atop their horses in some sort of ceremonial procession. In the middle of it, there was a tiny white speck, which Corinne presumed was his brother’s car. That told her all she needed to know.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand,” Alicia said after her grandmother had finished.
“I’m a big believer that our dreams mean something, and to me that dream was the universe’s way of telling me that no matter how exciting and beautiful something might look on the surface, underneath it lurks danger, possibly something devastating. So I kept my money and stayed at the electronics store,” she explained.
“So your dream of being rich was ruined by a dream?”
“Maybe my dream was to have a family and live a quiet life. Since that’s what I got, I’d say I ended up pretty rich.”
“Oh Grandma. You old people are so corny.”
Yes we are, she thought to herself. And secretly full of regrets.