Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Dropout (05/12/11)
TITLE: The Sword that Cut Between the Zebedees
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John had that same feeling in his heart that he always had when his mother compared him to his brother. It was a choking sensation inside his chest. Sometimes she talked as if his brother was a scoundrel and sometimes as if he were a saint, but either way it implied something deeply and disturbingly about him.
“I’m not abandoning you, I just have to check this out!”
If you drop out of our lives and your father’s business, do you think he’ll just take you back whenever you feel like coming back?”
There are a lot of guys looking for work. He won’t have any trouble finding someone to replace us!”
“’Us!’ So, you brother’s going too?”
“James is already gone!” he said, knowing it would hurt her but not really caring. He couldn’t stop himself from wondering if she would miss his brother more than she would miss him. Realizing this was so petty, he felt irritated, trapped in an old pattern. Sometimes he felt like it was he and his brother against the world and sometimes it felt like he was competing against his brother too. Whatever he did, at school or at work or at home, it just wasn’t good enough. He was never satisfied. That’s what attracted him most about this Rabbi--he carried himself as if there was no one in this world he needed to please.
John knew that his mother didn’t mind it when her husband’s business partner, Peter, left. She was glad. It showed everyone that she had been right, that her husband’s choice for a partner wasn’t to be trusted and that the co-op would actually do better without this impulsive, brash man with poor business judgment. And she was right. Peter’s strength in pulling nets and his strength in rowing didn’t mean that he had a good business sense.
The abandoned mother shrank into herself in the resigned manner her family knew so well, as if her spirit left her heart and those who loved her were supposed to fill it with their own. This time John just couldn’t do it. He left his mother with a soft goodbye kiss on her cheek and pretended not to notice her tears.
He met up with his brother, James. The two brothers looked at one another, back at the fishing village along the banks of the inland sea, then ahead to where their new life with this strange teacher would lead.
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