by Jake Christie

a story.

Hugo decided to make a list cataloging all of his faults. He bought a large pack of legal pads and a box of pens, and after his wife went to bed he set them out on the kitchen table. He poured himself a tall glass of milk and sat down.

At first the page was so large and empty that Hugo's mind couldn't conjure anything. He was paralyzed by both the number of faults that he could fit on the page and the fear that he might be too lacking in personal insight to write anything at all. He numbered the first line “1” and wrote “indecisive.”

Soon the faults were coming quickly, like a faucet turned wide open. All Hugo had to do was think about the decisions he made in the day and consider their alternatives. He had a donut with breakfast that morning, so he wrote “not health-conscious.” Then, since he took a sweaty jog that left him winded to work off the donut, he wrote “out-of-shape.” Every decision revealed some other decision, some road less taken, that illuminated a possible fault. It was effortless.

Hugo paused at the bottom of the second page and looked over the list. He wondered, momentarily, what he would be writing if he had in fact made the opposite decisions and taken the other roads. If he hadn't eaten a donut, would be be writing “uptight?” If he hadn't taken his jog, and therefore hadn't forced his out-of-shape body to perspire, would he be writing “lazy” instead? Was this whole list of faults a waste of time?

He underlined “indecisive” twice and flipped to a blank page three. He happened to see the sale prices on the pack of legal pads and box of pens and wrote “cheap” next to a fresh number.

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