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U3A Writing: The Choice

Alan faces a big decision - to leave home, or not to leave home.

Virginia Nasmyth tells a good-humoured tale which will stir many memories.

The front door was open.

Alan stood there deciding whether to enter or not. If he went in, it would be back to the old life of boredom and dissatisfaction.

The choice was his.

His heart quickening, he turned on his heel and left.

‘I’ll take a chance’, he said.

He walked back down the steps and crossed the road to the lane that led up the hill. Maybe he could think there and decide what he wanted to do with his life.

His decision not to go home had been festering in his mind for days. He needed to get away - away from all the nagging and irritations that assaulted him at home. He didn’t feel needed or loved, and certainly not appreciated. All he got was criticism and very little thanks for his contributions to the running of the house.

He supposed he was found useful for doing the shopping and running errands, but what kind of a life was that?

He walked to the top of the hill and paused at the summit. He loved this view. He didn’t really want to leave the area and the beautiful countryside that he had known all his life. He was luckier than so many. He had made a life of sorts here though he had few real friends, not people who would miss him, and he them.

He sat on a large rock, removed his jacket and tie, and contemplated the sheep grazing unconcernedly in the distance. ‘Were they bored with their lives and the endless monotony?’

He slipped off the rock, and placing his jacket on the turf, lay down and shut his eyes. His mind wandered and drifted over ideas of travel, and exotic places to visit. He had never been abroad and languages were not his forte, but he thought longingly of the heat and sun of distant lands, - India, Africa, perhaps even Australia, almost anywhere far away from the boredom of home.

He knew he was being unrealistic, but he let his thoughts drift on as he lay relaxing in the warm evening air breathing in the scent of the grass and the raw earth.

What did he in fact want to do? He could hardly exist on thin air. A job would be necessary to bring him in an income as he would need money to live. Again he built up castles in the air, knowing he was being ridiculous, but by now less stressed and beginning to relax. The warmth of the air and the sound of the insects in the grass around him lulled him into a form of contentment. He lay there trying to think up a plan for his future.

He must have drifted off to sleep at some point and was jerked back to reality by the sound of a distant clock striking the hour. He looked at his watch and saw with dismay it was getting late, and he had made no decisions.

‘Maybe tonight is not the right time to leave,’ he told himself, getting up from the grass and stretching. ‘Perhaps I’d better leave things till tomorrow and make a proper plan.’

Alan slung his jacket over his shoulder and ran his fingers through his hair; then he set off again down the hill, enjoying the hedgerows in the lane, and the birds twittering and gathering in the early evening. ‘It’s a pretty nice spot that I live in really. Perhaps I’d just better try to organise things at home more to my own advantage. It’s not all bad, but I honestly have had an awful day.’

He continued towards home and walked up the steps again. This time the door was shut so he carried on round to the back of the house and went in the kitchen door.

‘Is that you Alan?’ called a voice from the front room. ‘Where on earth have you been? I was getting quite worried about you. You are two hours late and I was thinking of calling the police. Not that you deserve it, but your tea is in the oven. You’d better get on with that fast and then get on with your homework.’

‘Yes Mum,’ said Alan, grabbing a cloth to take the hot plate to the table.

Well he’d had the choice, hadn’t he, and he had decided to come home again. After all, when you’re only twelve it’s hard to get work. And where else would he have a nice hot meal waiting for him when he did get home.


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