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What have I done?

Within the space of a half hour, my whole world changed. I came to New York so I could start over. Get a new job, start to love a new girl.

I'm leaving New York after declining that new job and breaking up with that new girl. So what happened? What have I done? What happened to my carefully laid out plans?

My fingers tighten around the steering wheel as I pass the Welcome to Pennsylvania sign. I'm going home. And instead of learning to live with a new city, new love, new job, I'm coming home with a whole new outlook.

Much has changed. But even more has been made clear to me. When I left, I was confused. Frustrated. Tired. Now I know where I'm going, I know what I want. Who I want.

As painful as it was to watch Karen's eyes mist up as she held back her stubborn tears, I have no regrets. Because though I hated to hurt the woman I've been trying to fall in love with for far too long, I feel amazing.

Confessions have been lifted from my chest. Stress taken from the knots in my shoulders. My whole body feels lighter.

And there's a smile on my face.

This time last year, I was in Stamford. With my own fancy desk, strangers around me, and a little sticky note with the word Smile on the corner of my computer. I wrote it after Karen remarked after the first few weeks of knowing me, said that I never smile there, did I ever?

Of course I used to smile. I smiled all the time. Well, most of the time. Whenever I was at work, planning a new scheme with the receptionist who was bound to be married to another. Engaged, but too great of a personality to turn me away. To stop me from having that secret hope of one day, just maybe I'd have my chance with her.

The day that hope was shattered was the day my smile broke. So I had to put a sticky note on my computer. To remember that starting over, far away from Scranton and all that it held, might bring me something to smile about.

That was last year. This is now.

Driving back after another failed attempt to flee my home. With one less girlfriend and a smile on my face.

Because for so long, I quietly, secretly, begged for my chance. And now I have it. I put it off for too long, fearing that wounded, rejected feeling that's plagued me for months.

I realize now that it's worth the risk. Another risk.

Pam did her part. She's waiting for me to do mine. She's been waiting, hopefully still is. I can picture her sitting at her desk, wondering what's going on with my interview.

The interview that I won. The interview that I gave up.

It's time for me to do my part now. At just the idea, I can't help but smile again. I can't wait to run in to the office and tell her. To tell her I'm ready. To tell her it's time to start over.

I glance at the note she wrote me, with the gold yogurt top attached. It's sitting in the passenger seat. I nearly had the urge to buckle it in, just in case it might manage to blow away.

Catching my sloppy grin in the rearview mirror, I realize that if things go over well today, I'll never have to write myself another Smile sticky note ever again.

And I like that idea.

UnWritten007 is the author of 9 other stories.
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