A brief story about three people who are the same (not necessarily in parallel worlds) who are all connected by their doubt.
The roar of the ocean brings me crashing back to the present. Intense sunlight floods my vision, momentarily blinding me. All I have is sound. The sound of waves lapping at the shore, the screams of seagulls, and the laughter of children. Soon, my eyes adjust and a whirl of shape and colour assaults them. The sky is a brilliant shade of pink as the sun is beginning to sink beneath the cerulean sea. I am standing at the edge of a long pier, staring out at the horizon. I can’t quite remember how or when I got here, but it feels like it’s been a long time. My legs are stiff from standing, and I shift my weight, trying to remember why I am here. A series of fragmented memories flash in my mind’s eye: A dilapidated room, an empty lecture hall, a coffee cup shattering as though it’s in slow motion. And then, I remember. I had been teaching a philosophy lecture, and the discussion was good. There were many bright students in the class; I could tell that many of them had the potential to do great things. I could see their lives flashing before my eyes, walking across the stage to receive their diploma, giving speeches as politicians, or raising families. And I knew it was meaningless. Everything, that is. And that day was the final push.
So I simply stopped talking, and walked away from campus. And that is why I am here, standing on this pier: My teaching meant nothing! My career, my life…was nothing. But why am I here? Surely there must be some sort of reason for this existence, something to give meaning to my teaching! I carelessly climb over the railing of the pier, and picture myself letting go, and descending into the ocean below. But my hands lock onto the railing. Why am I afraid? If all is nothing, why is my instinct to survive? Survive for what? I close my eyes, as the waves crash against the pier; the freezing spray of seawater hits my eyes, shocking my body. And, for the briefest moment, I see clearly behind my closed eyes the face of an elderly woman whom I’ve never met, yet I know her.