Posts tagged ‘choices’

The Pastures and the Fields

By Christian Sopkowiak

Using the prompt for this week: “Our writing prompt for this week is to write a story using the following five words: bottle, balcony, strawberry, conversation, values.”

Inspired by the biblical story of Cain and Abel

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His mind drifted away from the fields, the stalks, and the sun. He thought of his brother standing in the pasture, the pepper-grey sheep surrounding him. His brother would always herd those sheep. They would always listen to his brother but the one time Carl tried it, the sheep scattered. He thought of the balcony on which he stood, a wooden thing high above the ground. He had his arms on the rails and his eyes on his fields. He thought of his brother once again, this time Abe was standing with him on this balcony, with a bottle in his left hand. It was always his left; he said it helped the alcohol flow down his throat when he drank with his left.

Carl and Abe were brothers by blood but not in truth. For when the two brothers ventured to visit their grandfather’s, Grandpa Gabe never once asked Carl about his fields. Only Abe’s sheep piqued his interest. The conversation droned on with the talk of the sharp, soft wool and tender meat. Carl left that day, knowing he seemed lost to his only other family besides his brother. The balcony began to creak a bit as Carl again tried to spot a flaw in his fields. He had corn, beanstalks, potatoes, apples, and so much more. Yet, Gabe chose Abe’s sheep. Carl saw his brother before him, a smaller man with dark hair and a clean face. There was never any hardness there. He had tried his best to forget that.

The day after their visit with Gabe, Carl approached his brother. He blamed Abe for Gabe’s neglect. Gabe had told Carl that if he kept trying, he may be able to change. But Carl knew Gabe was trying to soften the hurt. The brothers screamed at each other, neither stopping to hear the other. Carl and Abe fought about food, family, culture, values, and finally, life. Carl had brought a knife, no longer than his index finger. It was curved and smeared in oil and dirt. He had used it in his fields. That day, he used it to kill his brother. During their talk, Abe turned to look at his pasture and heavily sighed. Carl drove the blade through him. It went through his heart in one swift motion and Abe began bleeding. The blood reminded Carl of a strawberry: foolishly crimson but eloquently beautiful. So much, like the sun.

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The Gentle Island

by: Rebecca Taylor

Two children ran along the beach laughing, their bare feet splashing in the water. Their parents sat on the porch of the beach house they were renting for their PEI vacation, their feet touching the wet, grainy sand. It had been twenty years since they had visited the island, the place they had met. They’d been in PEI for two weeks and were considering moving to the gentle island to escape their city lives where they worked a minimum of ten hour days. Not only did they love the salty smell of the water, the stars and clear sky were absolutely breathtaking.

            “This island makes people smell the air; watch the sunset, the ripples and waves of the ocean. The kids are going to grow up and have their own lives, they’ll grow up and move away…” said Marissa.

            “We’d be moving away from our lives.” replied Lewis.

            “It isn’t a home anymore, we don’t enjoy it. We’ve got to slow down; this island has shown us how to do that. Selling the house and our savings give us a chance. With fifteen years of experience, we could find other jobs, might not pay as much but we’d make out okay, we wouldn’t be bringing work home. We can play on the beach in the summer and in the snow in the winter with Abby and Jake. It is perfect, water, sand, bliss.”

            “Let’s do it, we can start house hunting tomorrow.”

            “We’re finally going to have our own lives again and to live on this gentle island would be like paradise.”

Balancing Act

by: Rebecca Taylor

Three months into first semester at Prospects College in the Police Foundations program Adam Morissey was exhausted.

“Adam, Adam, wake up, don’t fall asleep in the spaghetti,” said his father John.

“Sorry, Dad, I guess I haven’t been sleeping very well lately. I’m busy.

“You’re doing too much. I saw your hockey coach last night. Why didn’t I know about your second job? Boy, why didn’t you tell me that you had this much work to do, you’ve got a very full plate and I don’t know how you do any of it anymore, your mind has got to always be on something else,” said John.

“But…I’ve got to do this, I need the money, the hockey I’ve been doing all my life and the school is my future career. I didn’t want you to worry about me, that’s why I didn’t tell you about working at the hardware store,” answered Adam.

“Son, you’ve got to make some choices. You can’t do it all. Twelve hours a week at O’Dell’s Hardware, your weekends at my storage firm and still you’re playing hockey and going to school, it’s too much for anybody.”

“I’ve got to do it, Dad, it’s my life.”

“I know it’s your life, and I want you to get a chance to enjoy it. You’re only twenty-one, you have to live boy, now is the time for exploring the world. You’ll only end up working yourself ragged if you keep it up like this. You deserve better for yourself; you need to take more time for you. If you want, you can stop working with me on the weekends. I know that the pay isn’t great.”

“Dad, you know I can’t do that, you need me and someone else is going to want to be paid more. I’ve been there six years; I know what I’m doing.”

“I know you know what you’re doing but I also think that someone else, maybe a student who is looking for some extra cash would be willing to take over the job.”

“I need the money, Dad, school is expensive, and I’m just scraping by even with my job at the hardware store.”

“I’ll give you the money you’d be making working with me, you’ve just got to stop working so hard.”

“We can’t afford that, and you know it.”

“Let me worry about that,” answered John.

“No, we’re a family. Ever since you and Mom got divorced, we’ve been making the decisions together. Six years we’ve worked together and made decisions together, we’re a team, Dad.”

“Yes, we are, Son, but teams don’t keep things from each other and you kept working at O’Dell’s from me for three months. How you did it, I don’t know because I was bound to run into someone who’d seen you there.

“I work there early in the morning before it’s open, restocking the shelves, getting the bank deposit ready and stuff with Mrs. O’Dell, I don’t work there when it’s open and people can see me.”

“All this time, and I’ve thought you were working out at the rink and spending too much time on hockey, maybe you need to cut back on hockey, after all you’ve always said you only do it for fun, a lot of the other guys on your team are very serious about it.”

“Yes, they are, but I release the pressures of my life by playing hockey. Leaving school isn’t an option, I want to be a police officer, and make the world a safer place. I don’t see any options, Dad, but to do what I have been doing.”

“You’re going to have to figure out your priorities, Adam, I’m not going to tell you what to do, but when you’re falling asleep in your supper, there is a problem. You need to eat, have time to relax, go to school and work, but you can’t overdo it. You’re working more hours a week than I am with all your activities and I don’t think it is healthy for you. There has to be too much stress in your life. I don’t like it.”

“Right now, I don’t see any other options. What do you want me to do, I’m doing my best.”

“Slow down, Son, don’t regret your youth.”

“I’ll work it out, Dad, just let it be.”

“Okay, but you know I’m always here for you if you need to talk.”

“I know.”

Four months into the semester and his hockey coach was on his back.

“Adam, you’re not into it like you used to be, I don’t think you have the time for hockey anymore like you used to. You know that this team is a commitment,” said Coach Ryan Hayden.

“I know, Coach, I’m giving it as much time as I can. I come to practices and I play at games.”

“How much other ice time are you giving it right now?”

“None, unfortunately, I don’t have the time with school and work.”

“That’s exactly it, Adam, you don’t have the time, why you were practically falling asleep on the ice. You can’t keep this up. You need to think about what’s more important, your health, or hockey.”

“My health, but I’ve played hockey since I was eight years old, I’ve been doing this for thirteen years, and you can’t just expect me to stop.”

“No, Adam, you shouldn’t stop doing it, but I think you need to take a break, maybe join a more recreational team, not one like ours. This team is big league competitive, you don’t fit into the scheme of things here anymore; you have better things ahead of you in life. You’re working two jobs and going to school. You’re going to make a great police officer but you have to live through nine semesters. You’re only in your first one. Think about it, Adam, I don’t think you’ll regret taking time for you.”

“Fine, Coach, I’ll think about it, but for now, I’m going to keep playing.”

“Then find the time to practice your techniques and skating, you have to keep up your hockey stamina.”

Another two weeks went by; Adam was preparing himself for midterms, when Vera O’Dell, his boss at the hardware store approached him.

“How much sleep did you get last night, Adam?”

“I got to bed around one,” answered Adam.

“And you started working here at six this morning. That means you only got five hours of sleep last night. Your body needs more than that,” answered Vera.

“I know but I was studying for midterms.”

“You’re too busy, Adam; you’re not spending enough time on you. You have too much going on in your life. Life is full of decisions; you need to make some. You aren’t any good to anyone especially yourself like this. You put the six-inch nails in with the five-inch ones yesterday morning and I had to spend all morning fixing them up. You can barely keep your head up. You’re going to be tired all day at school. Come on into the back with me. I’m going to get you a cup of coffee and something to eat. The next time you come to work, I want you alert and on the ball. I like you, Adam, you’re smart, respectful, honest, and destined to go a long way but not like this. You have to decide what is most important to you.”

“Okay, Mrs. O’Dell, Christmas break is next week, I’ll figure out what to do then, please don’t fire me. I promise I’ll get some sleep today.”

“Okay, Adam, but remember what I said.”

It just wasn’t Adam’s day because at lunch the head of his program and professor, Jason Allister approached him.

“Adam, you’re doing good work, but you’re also falling asleep in class. This isn’t the first time this has happened either. I know what kind of a course load you have and that you work two jobs and play hockey but that is no excuse. It is time to figure out your life.”

“You can save the lecture, Mrs. O’Dell, already gave me one today and before that it was my hockey coach and my father. I know I have to take care of my health, get my sleep, and slow down. I need to make a decision about my priorities because I can’t keep up this balancing act. I’m going to figure it out during Christmas holidays.”

“Very good, Adam, I just wanted you to be aware of what you’re doing to yourself but I can see you already are.”

Adam just smiled and nodded, he was certainly aware of the situation. What am I going to do, he wondered, I have to stick with school and I need to work. I guess the only thing I can do is take a break from hockey until I have my education and then I can join a recreational league and just have fun. I don’t see as how I have any other choice. Sometimes life is hard and I have to act like a man and take the consequences. There are no other options. I’ll tell Mr. Hayden after the big game next Friday, I’ll be on break by then and be able to relax a little.

The Mountain Muskrats won the big game and after the victory party, Adam approached Ryan Hayden.

“Good job, out there, Adam, your scoring was great. You must have slept well last night.”

“I did, no homework on Christmas break. I made a decision, I need to leave this team and spend more time on me. I need to pursue my studies and work without hockey getting in the way. I just don’t have time for it anymore. Maybe someday I’ll be able to get back to it on a recreational league like you suggested.”

“I think that is a very good decision, Adam, and you were man enough to admit that you can’t do it all anymore. I hope that you can come see the home games once in a while. You can even sit on the sidelines with the players if you want.”

“Thanks coach that means a lot to me. As much as I love to play hockey, I know that I can’t do it all and have to accept that. It isn’t the end of the world,” and so with a few final parting words Adam left the hockey team and found more time in his life to pursue his education to his full potential and work. Not having to play hockey anymore meant that he was able to work the evening shift at O’Dell’s Hardware and sleep easier not having to worry about missing work in the mornings after a few late nights of studying.

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