The Decision

Dad sat reading, “The Eureka Times–Standard”. It only came in the evening. Mom was absorbed in an Agatha Christy novel. The two girls and Adam were outside playing.

Tommy came walking down the hallway and sat down on the edge of the couch. He let a big sigh escape as he did so. Neither parent took notice. They both sat there busily reading to themselves.

Outside Tommy could hear the kids at play. He was wishing to himself that he was younger and could go out and play too. But he had already graduated from high school and his job as Paul Bunyan’s voice at the Trees of Mystery had closed for the winter months.

“Besides,” Tommy thought, “I don’t want to do that for the rest of my life.”

Tommy sighed again. Still, Mom and Dad did not look up or give Tommy any attention.

Tommy stared out the large sliding glass door into the back yard. His thoughts drifted back into another time. He was just a little boy then, when his family moved into this house. That was back before there were four children. It was just Adam and himself then.

He looked at the Alaskan daisies that he had spent a week after school planting. They were all white with brilliant green stems that stood out against the dull gray redwood fence he helped build less than seven years ago.

There was the swing set with its rusted green legs and cross bar that he could not recall never having been without. It had saved his life once by providing plenty of entertainment the one summer he was grounded to the back yard all three months.

Just over the fence was the old apple tree that was shade from the afternoon sun for the summer months. He spent last summer with Linda. She was gone now, back to Southern California.

Tommy’s parents continued to read as he sat there with his thoughts. They were mostly memories, more than thoughts.

“Thoughts collect dust, memories live on,” Dad had once said.

Tommy was trying to make a decision – an important one. At first the decision seemed to be easy, but the more he looked around, the less thought he had and the greater the memories he found.

Until this time, Tommy thought of memories as something old men passed back and forth in front of the hardware store. Tommy knew he wasn’t an old man, yet the flood of memories weighted him down until his heart felt like that of an old man. Tommy pushed himself upright and squared his shoulders. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat. It was a loud and long noise.

Both his Mom and Dad stopped what they were doing and looked at him. Tommy took another breath.

This one was longer and deeper than the previous one and said, “I’ve decided to join the Air Force.”

For a moment, nothing happened. Both parents sat there in stunned silence. Then Mom started to cry as Dad stood up to shake his grown son’s hand.

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