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You're Doing the Best You Can

Heather Morris is a cyborg librarian living in North Carolina. Her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Bards & Sages Quarterly, and Every Day Fiction. This is her second appearance in Daily Science Fiction. You can find her at thebastardtitle.wordpress.com and on Twitter @NotThatHeatherM.

But you still wonder, what else is out there?
So you put on your headphones, and listen.
In the universe where Cold War Kids is your favorite band it turns out that you never fled the city. You go to shows where you can stand alone in a sea full of strangers, and drink whisky to show how cool and edgy and different you are. Grad school didn't destroy every ounce of your self-worth, or if it did, you were strong enough to claw your way back. You overlook your own obsolescence and make eighty thousand dollars a year. You ignore the heart palpitations, the headaches, the phone calls from your parents, the warning signs, the hangovers, the loneliness, the fear.
In the universe where Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos is your favorite band you flirted with lesbianism in your senior year of college, just like the stereotype said you would. Your thought that it would make you normal, or at least normalish, to pretend that you desired someone, anyone at all. She left you for being cold and awkward, she left you because you refused to move in. You still tell your friends that you left her, and they still pretend to believe you. You bite your nails to the quick and dye your hair peacock blue. You think about going back to school for Women's Studies. The weight of each morning presses you flat until you think surely, there must be something easier than breathing.
In the universe where Iron & Wine is your favorite band you took that joint after school in ninth grade. A boy kissed you when the bottle pointed your direction, and no one made fun of him for kissing the fat chick, so that worked out pretty well. You never left the place where you were born, but it's okay, because no one else did either. This town will be under the ocean in fifty years, which would be sad if you thought you'd make it that long. You go to church on Sundays and pretend to sing. You have a shelter dog named Ralph, and are learning to knit.
In the universe where Silverchair is your favorite band you died at age fourteen. You got tired of waiting and just wanted to feel something, anything at all.
In the universe where Simon and Garfunkel is your favorite band she is still your best friend.
In the universe where Yeah Yeah Yeahs is your favorite band you spent a year bumming around Europe, tossing your college fund at booze and train passes and pretentious books by revered misogynists. You landed in Spain and couldn't find the way out. Your Spanish is still terrible after all this time. You smoke cigarettes like they're going out of style-which, let's be honest, they are-and make paella, and spend your days watching tourists in art museums. You have given yourself a new name, and not one person knows the old one.
In the universe where TV on the Radio is your favorite band the eating disorder stuck. You are one hundred and three pounds on your worst day, and fancy yourself a poet of the type who will end up with her head in an oven at some point. You didn't quit ballet class in kindergarten. Your boyfriend is a lumbersexual and together you drink IPAs and pretend that you will move to Brooklyn any day now. You've had one abortion, one miscarriage, and a few incidents with pills. Sometimes you feel like every day is another act of dress-up. You're going to write a poem about that, probably.
In the universe where Florence + the Machine is your favorite band you study rare frogs in the rain forest. Your mother is deathly afraid of frogs. She will not let you touch her until she has witnessed you washing your hands at least three times and made you shake out your clothes in the mudroom.
In the universe where The Kooks is your favorite band you swing between fast food binges and fad diets. You met a guy online. But you dread the face-to-face because things are great as they are, and what if he's a serial killer, or has halitosis, or can see straight to the heart of you?
In the universe where The Postal Service is your favorite band they have released seven albums to date.
In the universe where The Rolling Stones is your favorite band, you are an astronaut. Lots of women your age are. You excelled in the STEM courses and never cried over your algebra homework because dumbstupidthickwhydon'tIgetit? You still have the framed picture of Earthrise from Apollo 8 that you bought at a yard sale in third grade. The Challenger did not explode.
In not a single universe do you have a child. Hah. Take that, patriarchy.
All of you, the infinity of yous, want to switch at some point of another. All of you want to cease. But you cannot switch and whether you're ready or not the time is coming when you will cease, so in the meantime listen, and try to learn.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Author Comments

I was recently catching up on some music I've inexplicably missed over the past decade when I had the stray thought that if I'd heard certain songs in college I might have ended up with a different favorite band. This led me to thinking about bubble universes, because of course it did. I still don't know if the band makes the universe, or if the circumstances of the universe lead to the band. I guess I'll just have to leave that up to you.

- Heather Morris
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