Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Entry #171

The Choices We Make
by Alisa Rynay Haller


If the old one-eyed black man ever had a name it had long been forgotten, even to himself. He’d been selling his stories on the same street corner for time out of mind, our great-great grandparents remembered listening to him as children, so we simply called him “Pops”, and like his fables he was timeless. A gaggle of children had him surrounded today, his straw hat on the ground waiting for donations that didn’t always come, and as he weaved his tale I paused in my rush to listen.

“…and creatures got to choose what they could and couldn’t do. Lizards can re-grow their own tails, and frogs and fishes can change from boys to girls when they want to, and camels can go forever without drinking water, and whales and dolphins can breathe both water and air, and elephants, why they chose to be the biggest and deadliest of all the animals and they shame us daily with their kindness, and”

“Why didn’t we ask for wings?” as small voice interrupted. Pops paused, shook his head and replied with sadness “we had to choose once, wings or a soul, one but not both” and with that he said no more.

As I poured all I had into his hat I walked away with my eyes to the heavens, watching the birds soar on wings mankind prayed for daily. I wondered if what Pops said was true, and wondered if we didn’t somehow lose both in the choosing.

31 comments:

Michael Solender said...

ah,,that is the question..this piece is perfect enchantment. lovely.

CJT said...

this was superb, a question for us to ask ourselves daily...

illyriataylor said...

thanx, I haven't gotten to yours yet..I'm afraid I'll lose my place!

Bernita said...

A memorable piece, nicely crafted.

Laurel said...

we had to choose once, wings or a soul, one but not both

Oh. OH. Magnificent. Theological, ethereal, and altogether wise. I love this idea. If we were angels, we would be soulless, without the will to find God. The limitations of life without flight are part and parcel of the search.

Wow. Love this one.

kashers said...

Makes me wonder how many would actually sacrifice their soul for wings.

Anonymous said...

For a second I thought you were attempting a frame-story in 250-words. Whew! I liked the innocent child's question and Pop's answer. --JR

illyriataylor said...

I love you guys. Thanx for the nice comments. If I had wings I'd fly over and say so myself.

wrath999 said...

Cool and vivid story. I could see Pops

austere said...

"..but not both"

Loved this one.

Aniket said...

Genius. Very clever plot.

This has emotions, philosophy, learning - everything! What more could a reader want?
Truly enjoyed reading it. Thank you!

catvibe said...

Whew! When I got to the line "we had to choose once, wings or a soul, one but not both" I was floored and overcome with shivers. I love this beautiful story. Especially your old black story telling man. Just wonderful wonderful. Putting it on my favorites list.

laughingwolf said...

definitely a keeper, thx alisa...

Preeti said...

haww.... beautiful. Pops is indeed one of the most memorable characters in this contest. such a wise and yes...'timeless/ageless' man...
and the last line. My God...it left me reeling. such an amazing, thought provoking insightful piece.

loved it. thoroughly.

lena said...

I wonder how you managed to combine so much in such a short piece. Really great! Liked it.

Deb Smythe said...

Pops is great.

pjd said...

echo Laurel. This is really very good.

Craig said...

I love how you built up the character of Pops in so few words.

Kartik said...

Lovely ... "The choices we make", how apt!

truevoid said...

and wondered if we didn’t somehow lose both in the choosing.

got me thinking. excellent piece.

JaneyV said...

Alisa - this is really quite lovely. I adore Pops and I think you wrote him with great skill. He does feel timeless.

The ending was very satisfying too. Lovely. Quite lovely.

quin browne said...

wings or a soul...



what a great place to go with that age old question of why can't we fly..


brava.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Perhaps we did lose both. Excellent piece of writing here.

Aimee Laine said...

What a great story! I think all the pilots in the world (or would be pilots) would agree with the end! :)

Aerin said...



my caveat

Something I Would Keep

"straw hat on the ground waiting for donations that didn't always come" - a fantastic way to set a scene -

Something I Might Tweak

so much freshness in the writing that "time out of mind" seems cliched

illyriataylor said...

I can live with that. It's my favorite cliche and it was shorter than the original wording (I had to cut 130 words to keep it in regulations)
thanx!

Chris Eldin said...

This is so, so, so good!!! I could read it again and again. Very well done, on so many levels. On my shortlist, for sure.

Terri said...

This caught, and held my attention. Lovely! I think what I like most is how vivid the characters seem, with very little actual description. That is good writing.

Harish said...

Aaah... simple yet profound! Just the way, Pops told it to the kids. An enchanting story for the kids and an answer to the one who seeks, in the very same words. :)

Jim_Wisneski said...

Wow - easily one of my favorites so far.

Great voice, great descriptions. . . and a hell of a question to ponder! :)

Jim

Dottie (My Blog 2.0) said...

Beautifully written and great voice!

Congrats on placing!

Dottie :)