Friday, December 9, 2011

Excerpt #2 from 'Second Chances'

Click here to read my first excerpt from this book.

(This is another short excerpt from my literary project titled Second Chances. It has been more than two years in the making, and I figure it'll take me a few more before this will eventually materialize into a full-length novel I can publish. In addition, this piece may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition. End disclaimer. Meanwhile, the following features a monologue by the protagonist's father, Arnold, talking to his son, Ronald, about his immediate future. I wrote this piece on Friday, December 9, 2011. Enjoy.)

Arnold began to walk away in disgust, stopping just before the front door and signaling for Ronald to come over from the dining room. He meekly made his way over.

"Do you see this door in front of you?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well," Arnold said, "it's open for you to leave at any minute. I've tried all I could to get logical answers out of you, but all I've got in return is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. I don't know what the color of the sky is in your world, but on Earth, reasonable grown ups base their lives on fact, not whatever feels right in the here and now."

He sighed out of exasperation.

"If there's one thing I'll grant you, it's that you're now a legal adult with minimal restrictions. If you wanna play the lottery, have a smoke, or bang a coed, no one has the right to stop you. But with rights come responsibilities. It's the same deal with Duke. While you've certainly earned the right to attend that school, you've failed to take responsibility on how you're gonna pay for tuition, much less room and board and any other expenses. That, my son, is dangerous thinking.

"And know this, too. If you choose to walk out that door and leave for Durham by week's end, this is the last you'll ever hear from me. As much as I wanna knock some sense into you, I've come to realize that strategy will never work again. Y'know why?"

Ronald shook his head.

"Because you've officially, if not already, entered the age of accountability. I don't know how you can stand there with a straight face and say a timeless principle is 'irrational,' but you must live with your decisions and accept the consequences. If that means going there and getting straddled with tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt in the name of higher education, don't even think of running back to me to help bail you out. Because I won't answer.

"I'm sorry, son. I can't, in good conscience, allow you to matriculate to Duke. The university may be ready for you, but you're not ready for the university.

"If you want, you can always start off with the local community college on the other side of town. They accept anyone who's got a high school diploma or a GED. Their academic standards may be less... rigorous, to put it mildly, but you'd be learning the same things there that you would at Duke. Plus, it's a whole lot less expensive and more convenient for you and I."

Again, he sighed.

"I don't know what else I can say to enlighten you, other than this little nugget for you to chew on. What would you rather do? Take a world-class eduation with bleak job prospects and no support of any kind, or swallow your pride and work your way back up with nothing to lose? The choice is yours."

Arnold left on that note out the door that had been ajar the whole time. Ronald quickly went back to his room to see his father head for his car and out for a drive. His eyes began to well up again as he sulked back through the hallway and toward the front entrance. He closed the door.

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