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The Moment

Author: Louise McLean
Year: Future

She stopped often to look at this picture, halfway down the corridor. It’s lined with pictures like this but there was something arresting about this one in particular. No yesterday, no tomorrow, only now. Or then, so she supposed. They are all face-on she realised, no blurred faces, no one looking the other way and she could see it all. Etched on their faces: the small sacrifices, the late nights, early mornings, shared hotel rooms, sweat, despair, aches and pains, all right there in the beaming smiles.

How many of us get these moments, moments that stand out not only in an individual memory but in thousands, millions around the world. A moment that people remember where they were, who they were with, what they did before, what they did after. To be the centre of the world for that moment, the photographer has captured the moment they had deemed great enough to put on this wall. It was the hard work and dedication to a dream that always got her the most. That moment, the final prize, the elation. Here, in a training centre corridor.

How do you look forward when your dreams have been achieved? She wondered that as she stared at the picture. Is it simply the high of the medal? Is it the greed of winning that makes you want it more and more?

Where do you go after? When you climb down from that podium. If all you have dreamed is holding that trophy, that medal, that glittering solid realisation of your dream aloft, what about the time not long from now when you will be in the changing room, you will be on the bus on the way home. How does one prepare for those moments, the mundane, after-moment moments?

She might ask him. She was, after all, on her way along the corridor to meet him now. Rehearsing it in her head 'What was it like? How did you move on? Why did you move on? What lead you to now? Where you do you go now?' They were surely all too short, all too neat to cover what she really wanted to know.

The meeting was wearing on. She had stopped listening a while ago, unable to concentrate on the words, words, words as they went round and round. The scrape of a chair brought her back into the room. They were preparing to leave. She started to feel those butterflies, when you are about to put yourself out there and all you can do is hope for a response. She half-smiled, why was she nervous? ‘I’m about 2 hours prior to the photo,’ she thought. She had a choice though. She could forget all this and carry on with her day. But something had taken hold, an idea, a notion, a goal of her own. She shuffled papers until the room was nearly empty.

'How did you do it?' She said in a rush, suddenly looking up. He paused, halfway back to his desk.

'Sorry?' He said with a half-scowl.

'No, I’m sorry, I was blunt. I was just wondering how you did it. When the future becomes your present, and then your past, how do you do it? How do you make a new future?'

His own half-smile appeared. She held her breath, suddenly expecting the media-trained answer to a question like this. A question he must have been asked a thousand times before.

'Well it’s a little off topic from the staff meeting but I wondered why you had been quiet,' he said. She breathed again as he sat down, silent for a moment.

'I think it’s simple really.' His eyes slid from her face to somewhere over her head. 'You have two futures. You have that big future, the one with the trophies, the one with the hard work and the passion and the dedication. But then you have your regular future too. The one with the girl, or boy,' he adds with a nod, 'the one with children, and the house, and the holidays. And you manage them both, you put them both first at different times. Different times of the year, different times of your life. That’s what helps you reach the first, knowing that the second is there in the background and it’s what helps you move on from the first. When the regular future becomes the big future, well then you know it's time to hang up your boots.'

His gaze snaps back from the wall, from the past, to focus on her. 'Does that make sense?'

'Yes. And it’s a lot more than I was expecting,' she is stunned by his answer.

'Me too,' he agrees. 'But we have a world to conquer and a game to revolutionise,' he adds, buzzwords from the meeting resurfacing as she turns to go.

Back at her desk, work has been shelved as she turns over and over what he said. Had she ever had a Future A? Had Future B been enough for her - at 18, at 25, now. She thinks back and forward. To her travels, her wedding, her baby’s future, the moments she had witnessed on tv and in person, the house they would buy, the places they still had to see. Yes, she thinks it was enough. More than enough. It’s just that A and B are a lot closer together for her than for some people. And anything else would be greedy she thought with a smile.

'What you grinning at?' A voice calls from across the room and she jumps.

'Nothing, I’ll tell you later,' knowing full well she will never say and that in that moment nothing could be further from the truth than ‘nothing’.