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The Choice

Updated: May 25, 2021


He walked with his back towards the green, grassy hill that he’d come from. The smell of the salty water filled the air, and also his nose. He walked slowly now, hands in his pockets, his head down, with his back towards the home he’d grown up in, his back towards all of them.

I shouldn’t have come home. I should never have brought her here.

He reached his destination, the place he had called “The Cliffs.” He stared out at the never ending sea that splashed Below him at the edge of the beach. Standing at the cliffs, was how his grandmother made some of her most important decisions. It was here, he escaped to many times in youth, unable to handle the enormous pressure that being in his family brought.

It was here, watching the the ocean waves crash against the rocks below, he could sit for hours receiving profound thoughts. It was here, that life seemed precious delicate and in a dance of balance. It was here, he felt his Gran.

Listen to them, In Harmony the gulls sing, The respect of earth dwellers and sky travelers and sea, all together existing at the tips of each world peacefully, as one. Two worlds so clearly colliding and yet existing side by side, spilling into each other unapologetically, without any controversy day after day. We are all one.. Never forget this lesson, it can be done.

His eyes misted as he thought about how long ago those words were spoken by his wise, Nan. His fists shifted uncomfortably in his pants pockets as he blinked the mist away.

I love her Nan. I don’t have a choice. They didn’t give me one

The cries of the gulls filled his ears alongside the crashing of the waves. It was a comforting melody, compassionate even, as if in reply to his thoughts. He brought himself to the ground and sat in rough earth mixed with sand. This space, had been sat on by many before him, it was far from the beach below, yet sand made it’s way up here too. The wind bringing the below, right where he was sitting, high above. Any moment now, the sun would retire here, and If he could just stay a bit longer, undetected, unexposed maybe he’d find a solution.

There was nothing he craved more than to find a way to live in peace. He couldn’t seem to please anyone anymore. He was the fun one, the silly clown who enjoyed everything life had to offer. He was the most adored of his mother’s children, that wasn’t a secret. It was even said that Nan had favored him.

This is why they hated her. They won't even give her a real chance.

The arctic chill that replaced the expected warmth of his family, this time was aimed at him.

Coming home was a mistake

He couldn’t figure out how it all got so twisted. It wasn’t her fault he’d been gone, or left at all. He’d longed for his escape from this place before he knew she existed. It was when he found her, yes, it was then he realized, she was what was missing. To him, she was his home, his family. To them, she was a betrayal.

This is why they all blamed her for his absence. The way they made her feel unwelcome and sent her off crying. The damage done to his foreign beauty’s reputation was too much for her to stay. He had to sneak her into town under the cover of darkness for fear of what would be said or forbid, what would be done. That was the last time....

He was only here now, to say goodbye. Forever.

He remembered how his family behaved when he first brought her here. It pained him to recollect. He truly thought they had accepted her. He remembered sitting there at the table, as they listened to her stories, politely chuckled at her jokes, and the kind embrace each member of his family gave her. He frowned, looking down at his shoes. He really thought she’d be happy here.

“They’ll never accept me. They see me as the woman who took you away from them. I don’t belong here” she had cried. He couldn’t find comforting words for her, he knew she was right. If only they knew the truth... A sudden voice from behind him, interrupted his thoughts.

“You still come here? Good. I haven’t seen you at all this time, since you arrived...”

He turned around to see fire-red hair matching his own, bouncing around his sister’s shoulders as she ran towards him smiling. He turned His back towards her, facing the water. The center of his chest was on fire with ache, and he was still bitter. He sighed as he rested his arm on his right knee.

“ I wanted to see it one last time.” He said curtly.

Behind his hard exterior, he yearned to tell her what he was feeling. He wanted her to beg him to stay, apologize, admit they were all wrong, something! Instead, he said nothing and continued to stare out into the ocean. His anger wouldn’t let him. What he couldn’t understand or let go of, is how his twin could reject the one he loved. How could she join them in the smearing of his good name? Without warning, he burst out in anger,

“Get a good laugh, did you? With the rest of them, at her expense?” His harsh tone stopped his twin where she stood and was still for a moment. The waves continued on, crashing in balance, thundering the echo of tension between them. She sighed and threw her hands up in surrender. The wind was picking up, and so were their voices.

“Fine! You need a villain? Make it me. Run away again. It’s not like you care what that means for the rest of us here, right?” She said slowly walking through the thicker wild grass. Plopping down next to him a distance apart, she sighed criss-crossing her legs, arms hunched over in her white top & gray trousers.

“ You don’t know what you’re talking about” he said angrily.

“I brought my life here, I wanted to be here and you all spit on me for it." There was gasp of exasperation that escaped her as he said it.

“Spit on you?! I don’t think YOU know what you’re talking about!” His twin snapped, a pain in her voice. Her green eyes flashed at him as she continued, “ Besides Nan, you are the only person who understands me. Nan’s GONE! Where were you? YOU weren’t even HERE! After you just disappeared without a word with that..” her anger took over for a moment before she sighed and tried again.

“ I tried with her, ok? She ignores me and the way she treats everyone who comes to help? She’s a monster! They say she’s not to be trusted!” Her words had angered him. His face was as red as their hair.

“THEY don’t know what they’re talking about!” He snapped. “Neither do you for that matter. You have no idea the life she’s accustomed to, or how very different it is here. She tried to adjust”

“Not very hard” His twin snapped back.

“ You made that easy for her, did you?”he snapped.They were both silent for a moment. As if Nan stood between them holding the peace, There was nothing that could be said that would heard right now.They sat and they listened to the sounds of nature around them, feeling the sand sprinkled on the soil brought up by the wind, as the sun was starting to dip into the unknown beyond the water, allowing the scene to soothe them, they finally felt relaxed enough to speak once more.

“You’re right. It’s not fair to attack her. It’s not even about her, not really....” She said dropping her head for a moment. She lifted it once more towards him, “ Do you want to know what Nan told me?”

He couldn't bring himself to look at her with the wave of guilt overtaking him. He didn’t mean to stay gone so long. He would have given almost anything to have been able to say goodbye before their wise elder had passed. He would never forgive himself for not being by her side.

“Let me guess, she was disappointed I was gone. She didn’t approve of my choices and would want me to stay home”

“Do YOU remember her at all? Maybe you were gone too long” she giggled.

He couldn’t help it, he smirked too. He did know better. She was wise, kind and always left him finding surprising solutions with her words.

“ What did she say?” He asked, using a nearby stick to fiddle with the earth.

“Unity goes beyond the sea.”

“What? A riddle? That’s Nan for you.” he said softly.

“I love my life here, in our town teaching all the children. I was meant to do it. This is where I belong.” She paused before smiling at him kindly.

“I know it’s expected of you to be here, to raise your family here. I WANT to teach your kids someday! It’s what we always dreamed of...” She said smiling a moment before her smile turned into a frown, and she began to cry softly. When he didn’t comfort her, she continued.

“ It’s ok to know you don’t belong here anymore.” She said as if to read his thoughts. “ You can’t live your life for what is expected of you. You are a free soul, brother.. You have your own path. We don’t have to like it, we just have to accept it. “

“You’ll just accept it, will you? You’ll send us a card, visit us on holiday? Come off it. You know that I’ll be exiled after this.” He yelled angrily. She waved her hands up in surrender.

“IF you want to leave, I know it’s not ME you are leaving. like Nan said Unity goes beyond that” He stared at the ground angering his twin. “ HEY! Don’t you understand? I accept you brother and I accept who you want. Please don’t ask me to choose her or lose you. That‘s just not fair. You will always be my family,”

Her eyes filled with tears as she stood and ran up the hill, before disappearing behind it. Leaving him alone with his pain, heavy confusion, and his choice.

Perhaps the answer was somewhere in between. He was expected to fit a role that was never his, and he felt it. His beauty was not meant for this place, perhaps his destiny was beyond these lands he’d always known.

It was in this moment, in this special place he heard her in the breeze, Could it be? Yes, it was his Nan’s voice carrying on, through the wind and the waves. Perhaps it was his imagination, or maybe it was the message he had been waiting for. It really didn’t matter what was true, in this moment he believed.

No Matter where you roam, unity goes beyond the sea, after all your great adventures, you can always come home, back to me.”

He knew the solution had been so simple and in front of him all along. It was safe to explore life, it was safe to make decisions away from what always was. He didn’t need to defend his choices to anyone. He didn’t need them to understand, he needed to stop using them as an excuse. He wanted to leave all along. It was time he faced his truth to heal them all. He wasn’t choosing between his family and his love, He was choosing between his comfort and his destiny. What he’d always known to a new land where he’d need to prove himself, where he could learn and grow!

He could love them both. His Past & his present, they were separate worlds, bridged by himself.

It was easy to see that his family loved him dearly, and SHE, the foreign beauty of his dreams loved him wildly. Their love for him connected them, and it always would. That was enough.

He knew what to do now. He would leave the land that had raised him, that gave him safety and comfort. He would do this with peace in his heart, and bravery covering his face. His choice to leave was not about rebellion, anyone or anything but his greater destiny.

Wherever he traveled, No matter the adventure he went on, or how long he’d be gone, He knew his grandmother would always receive him, right here.

This isn’t goodbye, I’ll be home again sweet land I love.

He walked now, with his back to the bright orange sky, dipping into the red horizon over the shiny mirror of the water. His back to the things that were ending, headed towards his destined new adventure.

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