Life Choices, Part II

(Sequel to Life Choices)

by Lizabeth S. Tucker

Roy was sitting in his recliner, blindly staring at the television, when two arms reached around him for a gentle hug.

"What's wrong, honey?" Joanne DeSoto asked her husband.

"Nothing," he replied with a half-hearted shrug.

"Uh huh, sure." She moved around until she could sit on his lap, softly kissing him on the lips. "You've been distracted since you and Johnny returned from your fishing trip. Did something happen?"

"Not really. Johnny was talking about things and it got me thinking."

"And what would your partner say that would have you so lost in thought?"

"You know how he's been dating Michelle Parks?"

"The baby nurse?"

"Yeah," Roy leaned back, settling his petite wife more comfortably by his side. "Well, she said something to him that got him thinking about his future. And it has me doing the same."

Joanne could tell this was bothering her beloved husband, so she refrained from teasing remarks about Johnny and thinking.

Roy sighed. "I wondered. Do you wish that I'd gone into another line of work?"

Joanne hesitated, feeling her husband's body tense. "There are days when I worry about you more than normally, when I wonder what life would've been like if you'd have become an accountant or a doctor."

"So you would rather I quit?"

"No, Roy, I didn't say that," she replied, smoothing his furrowed brow. "I think everyone wonders about the path not taken. Surely you've thought about it."

He shrugged again. "Yeah, sometimes. When we've been on a bad brushfire, when it seems like nothing is going right, it might cross my mind."

She snuggled even closer, nibbling on his neck. "Whenever I feel that way, all I have to do is look at those pictures over there." She pointed to the wall above the television.

Roy began to smile as he looked at the gallery of personal photographs. There was one of him when he graduated from the Fire Academy. Another with his hand being shaken by the Chief after completing the first paramedic class. The third was of he and Johnny, big grins on their faces, just returned from delivering their first set of triplets. The last photograph was of the whole station, taken shortly after Captain Stanley had arrived.

"In every single picture, you are smiling. I see the delight, the joy that you have in what you do. I know the gratitude of the people you help, even if sometimes they forget to say it. Be honest, hon, you wouldn't be happy doing anything else, would you?"

He brushed her currently blond hair back from her face. "You know me so well, don't you?"

"I certainly hope so, after all these years. I told you once before, as long as you're the breadwinner in this family, you pick what you want to do. And firefighting is it."

"Thanks, Jo." Roy pulled her up, sliding her against his body. Once her lips were in reach, he began to kiss his wife, glad that the children were still in school. "And if I had a nine to five job, we wouldn't have the opportunity to do this sort of thing without the kids around."

"There is that, Mr. DeSoto, there is that."

(January 2005)