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.