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SHORT STORY


TITLE: Dead End
By Valerie Van Selous
02/14/14
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This is a short piece that I wrote for the writing challenge that I did not get in on time! I thought that the writing was due 11:00 PM, but it's due 11:00 AM!!! Can you tell that I am a new member????
It's basically a memoir.....
“No one can grasp what god does from the beginning to the end”. [Ecclesiastics 3:11]
Some see flowers; some see weeds. Some run inside when the clouds get dark and the thunder starts to boom; some get lawn chairs and eagerly wait for the storm to start. Some see a dead-end street; others see a glorious mountain to climb.
We saw the end of the road. Though we were kids, we didn’t want to sound demanding, scared or frazzled, but all four of us were. It was getting dark and we were cold, tired, confused, and just wanted to go home. In unison we all cried, “We’re at the end of the road, dad. Let’s turn back, OK?
We were exploring our new neighborhood, a lake community nestled in a mountain with long, hilly, winding roads, lots of trees, and a lake we could walk to. Coming from the suburbs, we were a bit leery of the rural life since it seemed so vast and empty compared to the sidewalk community we were used to; a world where we could get to a store, a library, a school in minutes. With hesitation, we set out for a short walk around the block; just a quick five minute trek with my dad. We weren’t prepared to find ourselves at the end of some unknown dirt road. All we saw were trees with long limbs that looked like arms ready to grab us and the barking of ferocious dogs that were surely fast approaching. Meanwhile, mom was at home waiting for us; hot chocolate, dinner, a smiling face. The decision to turn back was obvious to us. Not to dad. His blues eyes twinkled. “Turn back?” he asked his four confused children.
Looking back, I imagine my dad, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, was living a dream that been percolating in his mind ever since had spent one month working on a farm 25 years ago. Sometime you can see a dream being born. Though a black and white photo, the picture of our teenage dad grinning, shirtless and sitting proudly on top of a tractor in the middle of a corn field was a colorful image of the birth of a dream. Finally, all those years later, his dream was a reality; he owned a home in rural America! He was not going to let one little dead-end spoil his victory. We didn’t know. All we saw was an impossible, impassible problem.
“This is not a dead end; this is an opportunity!” he declared as he picked a dead branch off the ground to use as a walking stick and started up the steep hill. I can’t imagine how proud he felt that summer day as he marched around in his baggy worn out shorts, mid-calf tube socks and his clip-on sunglasses leading his band of children on an “adventure” he only wish he had when he was a child.
So up we climbed. We held on to bits of tree roots and any piece of a low lying tree branch that we could find. We dug our heels into the dirt and pulled ourselves up the hill. My dad pulled on the arms of my little sisters and they clung onto him like they were seconds away from sliding down Mt. Everest. Out of breath and almost in tears, I remember hurling myself up the last inch of the mountain, rolling onto the grass, looking up and seeing a rabbit hatch. A rabbit hatch? Why would there be a rabbit hatch on top of a mountain? I wondered. Then I saw the chicken coop, the split rail fence and the dog house. We must have all seen the same thing at the same time because all at once we all jumped up and ran to a road we saw in the distance. Dad found and read a street sign and eventually we found our little one-story two-colored blue house with brown shingles. I don’t remember how long it took to get there, but years later I still remember that seemingly meaningless adventure. You could say that my dad taught us how to trespass or you could say that he taught us how to turn a dead end into an adventure. Some days we see flowers; some days those flowers are weeds. This is part of our human nature. No one can grasp what god does from the beginning to the end; what seems to be a dead-end, might be the opportunity we were waiting for, or maybe it’ll just be a rabbit hatch.
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