By Ralph Milne Farley (Roger Sherman Hoar, 1887-1963).
First appearance: Weird Tales, August 1931.
Reprinted in Omnibus of Time (1950).
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF).
"What would you do if you were given a chance to influence events so that you could live the past over again?"The poet tells us that "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood" and he "took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
At some point we all come to a fork in the road, take one path, and then years later, if we can find the time for reflection, think about what might have happened if we'd gone the other way, and perhaps feel a pang of regret. Professor John D. Smith comes to one of those forks and has reason to feel regret that he didn't let someone die when he had the chance, and now it's going to cost him his position, his prestige, and even put undue stress on his marriage. But then comes his chance to change things; it'll mean an old rival will die, but Smith's future will be secure.
It isn't long, however, before Professor Smith will come to another fork in the road, one where he must choose between a comfortable contentment and a crippled conscience . . .
- Our last meeting with Ralph Milne Farley was in his capacity as a co-author; see (HERE) for more.
— Steven Wright