If Only

Stuart was late for work. Stuart was always late for work, and as he hurried across the road to where his car was parked, he brushed the toast crumbs from his trousers and tried to smooth his hair down. It was a beautiful spring morning and he squinted into the sun as he neared the car, unlocking the doors on the way over. Something caught his eye as he was about to reach for the door handle. Peering down, he saw what seemed to be a small puddle of liquid underneath his engine. Was that there last night? Was that from his car? What the hell was it anyway? He briefly considered popping the bonnet and having a look inside, then looked down at his clean white shirt; his last clean white shirt. It wasn't as if he would have any kind of a clue what he was looking for anyway and so he thought he would get it seen to over the weekend, possibly. So he swung himself into the driving seat, retrieved his sunglasses from the floor and started his engine.

If only he had stopped and checked it out, his brakes wouldn't have failed on the motorway and he wouldn't have died in the resulting multi-car pileup.


Sarah liked living alone. It had been 6 months since she had caught Alex in an uncompromising position with his secretary, and although she had been on an emotional roller coaster since, she was ready to realise that she was better off without him and all his paranoid foibles, such as checking and rechecking the windows were locked each night, religiously checking the smoke alarms and making sure the tyre pressures were within an acceptable limit each week.

It had been a long and hard week at the legal firm she worked at, and so after a well-deserved bottle of wine and a takeaway curry she had treated herself to a long soak with a bath bomb and taken herself to bed. Now, as she lay in a semi-drunken doze, she remembered Alex and how he had insisted on keeping a rota of smoke alarms and when the batteries were last changed. Well, that was that slut of a secretary's problem now, she thought, as she slid into a peaceful slumber.

If only she had kept up the maintenance of the smoke alarms, she might have been alerted to the fire that spread through the house in the small hours of the morning. The smoke alarm never made a sound.


Tom was in the minority of people who enjoyed his job. Tom had worked in Telecommunications since leaving school, almost 35 years ago. It was fair to say that if Tom couldn't fix it, it couldn't be fixed. He was a dab hand at the wiring looms in the big green boxes by the side of the road you occasionally see open, but what he really enjoyed was shining up the telegraph poles to have a look at the junction boxes at the top. Especially on a pretty road like this, on a beautiful spring morning like this. He reached the top and let his heavy leather safety harness take the strain as he groped in his tool belt for the screwdriver. So intent on his work was he that he barely noticed the unusual creaking coming from the back of his harness. Strangely, into his head popped Mr Williams who had trained him up all those years ago. Mr Williams always said the most important thing to do when working at height was to check your safety gear thoroughly each and every time before use.

If only Tom had listened, he might not have died when the stitching on his harness gave way and he fell 25 feet onto the pavement.


All these needless deaths caused by one thing. If only I hadn't cut Stuart's brake cable, if only I hadn't removed the batteries from Sarah's smoke alarm and set that fire, and if only I hadn't worn down the stitches on Tom's safety gear.