With each passing moment, that one click of the 'submit' button was fighting for the number one spot on my list of regrets in life. It didn't have to fight very hard. All my other regrets were bringing knives to a nuclear war at that point.
After everything had really hit me, I honestly made an effort to act normal. I tried not to run out of the kitchen like I ran from the lightswitch to the bed every night when I was five. I tried to resist closing all my blinds as if I was a vampire struck suddenly by dawn. To my credit, I actually managed not to search every crevice or nook between my furniture for cameras and microphones.
Eventually, I ended up back at my desk, in front of my computer. I wondered if I could hit an 'undo' button somehow. I had no idea how many people had seen that post though. Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? It wasn't 1998; I didn't have a glittering animated hit-counter at the bottom of my page. At the very least, I did not have a webcam plugged in to worry about. With a tortured half-hiss half-sigh, I was starting to take the NSA more seriously and thinking maybe I should have signed more digital petitions when there was all that uproar about it.
Some people regret sharing naked selfies. Some employees regret adding their bosses to Facebook. Some presidential candidates regret sending things through Gmail. I used to laugh at these Internet faux pas. Well, I wasn't laughing any more. What was that rule? Nothing disappears from the web no matter how much you and your PR team ask the public not to use that unflattering photo.
My poor mouse was suffering my crushing grip as I scoured my mind for what the best course of action would be. Would deleting it make it worse? I wondered if that would tip off those people that I knew it was serious enough to be worth hiding. How about a post talking about how drunk I was the night before? No, even with spellcheck no one that drunk could write that well (in my humble opinion). My inbox had already begun to fill with readers asking what the post was about since I hadn't even given it a title or any tags. I had to do damage control on more than one front.
With my heart pounding like it was, I wondered why more blood wasn't going to my brain. After staring at my screen blankly for what felt like an hour, I blinked and shook off the deer-in-backlight effect. The craziest, stupidest, and/or cleverest idea had hit me.
I leaned forwards and my fingers started flying. I figured that I could pass it off as fiction, churn it into a short story inspired by a disturbing dream I had. It would not be farfetched considering the content of some of my other works. Besides, if things really started going south, I wanted to leave at least some sort of hint or record in case they couldn't find my body.
When I was finished, I barely remembered what I wrote, and I once again had hit the 'submit' button without any conscious thought at all. My fingers were poised above my keyboard, trembling, as I simply stared at the updated page and finally let out that breath I was holding. I might have given myself acute carpal tunnel syndrome from typing with that much tension in my hand. Luckily, my extremities were still rather numb. Perhaps, I thought a little too late, an adrenaline fueled daze was not the best time for making important decisions or 'creative writing'.
My regret list was suddenly becoming the next hottest thing. But there was no turning back. All I could do next was open a new tab to attempt to distract myself with some pictures of kittens.
I bet S would appreciate a picture of a kitten right about now too.