An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

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An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby Kelly » Fri May 01, 2009 3:25 am

Best I could do in two hours. :snicker:


An Unexpected Gift

The wood is quiet, almost silent, as I walk along. The only sound I hear is the soft rustle of my son’s footsteps, which echo my own, as he shuffles through the underbrush, ten paces behind me.

Every year I bring my son to these woods. There are things that he must learn – things about life – which he cannot learn from the coldness of the city. I’ve seen the young men that the city produces. I am one of them, but I don’t want the same for my son.

Normally, we walk together on these trips, side by side. Today is different. The wonder and excitement have vanished from his eyes. He has closed himself off to me, and I don’t know how to reach him. I suppose I should have expected his reaction. I broke his heart when I told him that I was leaving. But how do you explain to an eight-year-old boy that you’re not the hero he thought you were? How can you make your son understand that the only way to protect him is to leave him?

I’ve done terrible things in my life – I’m not proud of who I am, and I would do anything to become the man whose reflection I see in my son’s eyes. But I can’t – I’ve tried to change, but this is who I am.

Glancing over my shoulder, I see him following me, his head slumped forward and his hands jammed into his pockets. I can’t see his face – all I can see are a few dark curls poking out from beneath his cap – but I can hear him crying.

I don’t expect to be forgiven. I just wish I could make him understand that I am only leaving to protect him – to prevent him from turning out like me. I don’t want him to live a life of regret and shame like I have. I want him to be proud. But what if it’s already too late? Several weeks back I heard my wife tell him that he was turning out to be the “spitting image” of his father. Fear had seized me, and at that moment, I knew – I knew that I was leaving.

I stop walking for a moment to listen. I hear nothing. The soft shuffling behind me has disappeared. Turning around, I see my son kneeling on the ground several strides behind me. Quickly covering the distance, I crouch down beside him. My son raises his head to gaze up at me, his big blue eyes brimming with unshed tears.

“He’s sick. Can you help him?” he is pleading, but I don’t understand. Shifting slightly, I notice a mass of light brown fur lying in the undergrowth. A rabbit. Its right hind leg is badly twisted and lay limp beside its quivering and whimpering body. “Can you help him?” my son repeats.

“He’s hurt pretty badly, son. I don’t think…” my voice fails me when I see the tears streaming down the tiny face beside me. Why did this have to happen? And why now?

“Do you see that big tree over there?” I whisper, “wait for me by it.”

“Are you going to help him? Promise me,” his words are pleading.

“Yes, I promise” I lie, “now go.”

Momentarily forgetting his own troubles, my son smiles for the first time in days – and it nearly kills me. I watch him as he scampers off, and when he’s far enough away that he can no longer hear, I reach into my back pocket and extract my pocketknife. I release the blade, and it swishes into place. My hand shakes as I raise the knife, ready to end the poor creature’s misery. However, I falter and drop the knife. I can’t go through with this. All I can see are the tears welling in my son’s eyes as he searches for answers.

Removing my jacket, I lay it on the ground beside the animal’s shivering body. Very gently I lift the rabbit, which doesn’t even try to struggle, from the ground and place it in my jacket, wrapping the fabric around it. Lifting the tiny bundle, I cradle it in my arms as if it were the most precious treasure, and walk across the clearing to where my son waits for me. His face lights up when he sees that I had honored my word. I kneel to the ground, so he can see the tiny life in my arms, but he instead throws his arms around my neck. I hold him closely, for what may be the last time. I don’t want to let him go – but I know inside that I must.

Looking at my son, I see a child who I know now will one day be a better man than I can even hope of being. In his future, I see a man who will be kind and honorable – a man that I will always be proud of, even though I won’t ever get the chance to meet him.

“Come on,” I whisper, getting to my feet, “we’d better get our little friend some help.”

I begin to walk back along the path. This time, my son walks beside me.

“I’ll always love you. I hope you know that,” I whisper, “Even when I’m not around, I’ll always love you, Mick.”
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby cassysj » Fri May 01, 2009 3:29 am

That's really sad. But a good compassionate memory for his son.
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby wpgrace » Fri May 01, 2009 3:31 am

Awwww!!!! Kelly!!!! You totally got me! I could NOT figure out who they were, but I was so in love with both of them!!!! And only at the end did I know.... Nicely done!!! :happysigh:
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby wollstonecraft61 » Fri May 01, 2009 4:13 am

Oh, Kelly, I am weeping so hard right now, I can barely type out this message. Mick's father gave him the gift of compassion and earned trust and love. There is no finer thing a man can give to his son. So far, this is my favorite. Now I have to go blow my nose.... :hankie:
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby Fleur de Lisa » Fri May 01, 2009 4:39 am

Well done, kelly. Very touching.
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby MoonlitRose » Fri May 01, 2009 4:49 am

Heartwrenching, Yet there is hope! :comfort:

Great Job, Kelly! :hug:
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby AggieVamp » Fri May 01, 2009 4:56 am

awww :hankie:

What a beautiful memory for Mick's father to give him...

Some of these challenge pieces are KILLING ME!

Karen
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby Kelly » Fri May 01, 2009 4:58 am

cassysj wrote:That's really sad. But a good compassionate memory for his son.

Thanks, Carol! :hug:
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby Kelly » Fri May 01, 2009 4:59 am

wpgrace wrote:Awwww!!!! Kelly!!!! You totally got me! I could NOT figure out who they were, but I was so in love with both of them!!!! And only at the end did I know.... Nicely done!!! :happysigh:

hehe...well, ambiguity is what I was shooting for. :snicker: And thanks, Grace :hug:
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby Kelly » Fri May 01, 2009 5:02 am

wollstonecraft61 wrote:Oh, Kelly, I am weeping so hard right now, I can barely type out this message. Mick's father gave him the gift of compassion and earned trust and love. There is no finer thing a man can give to his son. So far, this is my favorite. Now I have to go blow my nose.... :hankie:

Wow...what a compliment :hug: Thank you! :hug: :hug: Oh, and so sorry, didn't want to make anyone cry.

Actually, they each gave the other a gift. Mick's father taught him about honor and compassion...basically helped to create the Mick that we all came to love. (although, you do also have to take into account the dark periods in Mick's life. Adds a bit of irony to the story.) And Mick gave his father forgiveness.
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby Kelly » Fri May 01, 2009 5:03 am

Fleur de Lisa wrote:Well done, kelly. Very touching.

Thanks, Lisa :hug:
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Thanks SirenSong for the gorgeous MickCora tag

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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby Kelly » Fri May 01, 2009 5:03 am

MoonlitRose wrote:Heartwrenching, Yet there is hope! :comfort:

Great Job, Kelly! :hug:

Thank you! :hug:
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Thanks SirenSong for the gorgeous MickCora tag

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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby Kelly » Fri May 01, 2009 5:05 am

AggieVamp wrote:awww :hankie:

What a beautiful memory for Mick's father to give him...

Some of these challenge pieces are KILLING ME!

Karen

Thanks. :hug: *hands AggieVamp a box of Kleenex*
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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby librarian_7 » Fri May 01, 2009 6:22 am

Kelly, this was beautifully done. Very evocative, and a nice twist.

A keeper, for sure!

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Re: An Unexpected Gift (Champagne Challenge) PG

Postby allegrita » Fri May 01, 2009 6:31 am

Ooh, Kelly! We both envisioned Mick's dad, and in such different ways. I love this story. It's filled with regret and hope, love and the inability to live up to love, selfishness and self sacrifice. I wonder whatever became of that man. Did Mick ever meet him again? What kind of life did he lead?

Really thought provoking and filled with imagery that really sticks with me...thank you!
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