The Illusion of Choice By D.I. Jolly

Bob lay in bed looking up at his children and smiled. He wanted to rise and greet them but was too weak, so settled for the smile. His three children had been warned that the end was fast approaching and even if it wasn’t that day, the amount of lucid time he had left was running out. None of them had had particularly bad relationships with their father but it was far from smooth sailing. As they saw him lying there, they knew what they wanted to do and say, so volunteered Robert Jr. to speak for them all.

“Where else would we be old man. Can we get you anything?”

Bob frowned a little and shook his head, then turned his attention to his other children to smile at them.

“Look dad, we want you to know that we know you did the best you could for us. It wasn’t always easy but we love you no matter what, and don’t hold anything against you.”

Robert’s voice had started to crack but he held himself together long enough to finish. The older man reached out trembling hands towards his children and they took them. A few hours later, late in the night, Bob slipped away peacefully in his sleep leaving a room of crying people behind. A few days later the three children were called into the office of their fathers’ best friend and lawyer.

“Now I know this had been a hard time for you all, and I advised your father many times about all this and my opinions on it, but he was adamant, so here we are.”

The man reached into a box on his desk and drew out three manuscripts which he handed out.

“What is this?”

“Just take a read and you’ll soon see.”

As they read they found detailed descriptions of all the things their father had done to them over their lives, arguments and conversations they’d had, scripted almost word for word.

“What… what are these? When where they written?”

“Now you see, your father was actually an exceptional psychologist and spent most of his young studying human behaviour and manipulation. He theorised that if you started off young enough you could direct the course of someone’s entire life. Each manuscript was written around the time of your respective births and given to me to hold until this time.”

Robert flew out of his seat and slammed his hands on the desk, so furious that his face looked like it might explode.

“You mean you knew about this! That we were just some experiment to be revealed after he died!”

The lawyer stood calmly and looked pasted Robert towards the youngest child Barbara.

“Please turn to the last page dear.”

She quickly did and let out a grown.

“This is in there too Robert, word for word… fuck sake, our lives are a lie.”

Robert sank onto the grown and turned to look at his siblings.

“And we can’t even confront him about it, or ask him about it. That manipulative old bastard has played us.”

They all sat in silence for a few minutes as the realisations washed over then, until Robert let out a little chuckle.

“Oh God, and you know what the worst part is? What we said to him still stands. This is just the way he was, he wasn’t easy but he was our father doing what he thought best. Fucking hell.”

From behind him he heard another drawer open and the lawyer stood in front of him holding an envelope.

“You guys can take as much time as you need with this, I’ll make sure this room stays quiet for you, but I have other meetings. Please feel free to call me in the future if you need any help with proceedings.”

He smiled, straightened his tie and left. Robert looked at the envelope apprehensively before opening it to read.

If my theory is correct, they will forgive me.

“Oh, fuck you dad!”

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