Heads and Tails

Author’s Note: This is purely fictional and not about me.

Binary choices leave little room for error. So many options drill down to heads or tails, anyway. Turn left or right. Cheese or no cheese. Even a presidential vote has only two options… this one or that one.

The randomness of too many possibilities often fills me with terror. What if my chosen paths lead me in the wrong direction?

Uncertainty has plagued my existence as long as I can remember. As a tot, I battled whether or not to go in the potty or diaper until I was four. My mother was beside herself.

Riddled with indecision that one wrong step could spell ruin, I relived myself of that responsibility and adopted the coin flip initiative.

I started using the coin to determine many banal options in life. Who pays for happy hour drinks? What should I have for dinner? What t-shirt should I wear today?

It became routine. Anytime faced with a choice, I let George Washington decide. 1,864,921 times to be exact.

The twist of fate is a dubious partner, but even the start of the Super Bowl is determined by chance. And 50/50 odds are much better than you’d get from any bookmaker or lottery. It simply removes a lot of daily strife.

Then I began to rely on that divine providence to make bigger decisions. Which apartment to choose? Which job should I take? The liberation of fortune became addictive, so every outcome rode on the toss of a coin.

In my daunted defense, judgements made every day guide us through each moment of our lives. Why is this method so different?

But now a simple bet, and my life hangs in the balance. Staring at the quarter, I’m suddenly filled with overwhelming anxiety. I need to choose either Washington’s weird pony-tailed head or the majestic eagle to decide my fate. Devil or angel. Which is which?

I always pick Washington. He won a war and started the country, so he must know something, but after millions of tosses, now I’m questioning that, too. There’s too much at stake. I’m doubtful of everything.

Does the trajectory of the coin make a difference? Should I loft it up flat from my palm or flick it with my thumb to create an angle? If it travels farther with more circular motions, is that favorable or not? It’s times like this I wish I paid more attention in physics class.

Better not change things now. Oh well, stalling isn’t going to help. I flick the coin with my thumb and watch it float through the air, climbing, climbing and then slowly descending to the floor.

In a fit of panic, I close my eyes to avoid finality, but then realize prolonging destiny a few moments can only make it sting more.

I need to put on my big boy pants. It’s time.

And the coin says…. I’m getting married!

Wow, I thought I’d feel dread, but now I’m relieved. It’s decided. I’ll ask her tomorrow. Thanks, George, Washington.

© Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2023

Published by suzanneruddhamilton

I write anything from novels and children's books to plays to relate and retell everyday life experiences in a fun-filled read with heart, hope and humor. A former journalist and real estate marketing expert, I am a transplant from Chicago, now happily living in southwest Florida to keep warm and sunny all year round. You can find me at www.suzanneruddhamilton.com

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