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A Parable

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Rowan McElroy had spent a lot of time locked up in her bedroom. She had everything she could possibly need: books, a television, a computer. People thought she was closed off to the world and that she ought to go outside more. Personally, she didn’t see any reason to; she was happy enough in her isolated little bubble.

Her room was cozy. Everything that she had collected over the years found its place alongside the rest. It was organized. It was familiar. She, like most people, didn’t like the thought of change.

On top of the dresser and on the bookshelves were various souvenirs acquired from the few times she did get out of her house to travel. They were nothing more than little store-bought candles and figurines that said the name of the place she had visited. They usually had nothing at all to do with the actual place, and they weren’t usually made in another country.

All the indigenous things like stones and shells that she had collected were sealed in a shoebox which was stuffed in the corner of her closet. None of them were interesting enough to lie out in plain sight. Also, she couldn’t just throw away a shell - it wasn’t a piece of trash. So, naturally, the misfit objects found a place together.

On one rainy Sunday day, Rowan was searching her room for a missing shoe. She eventually reached the farthest corners of her closet and noticed the shoebox. She extracted herself from the depths of the closet and sat on the floor at the end of her bed. She knew the missing shoe wouldn’t likely be inside the box; nonetheless, she removed the lid and dumped the contents out in front of her.

She studied several rocks and shells, wondering all the while why she ever picked them up to begin with. Then, lodged inside a rather large but ugly shell, she discovered an acorn. The cap was still intact, protected by the sturdy shell. Rowan thought nothing of this and tossed the entire nut out the open window. She resumed her search for her missing shoe and eventually found it under a blanket.

The following day Rowan went on a field trip with her English class to read to the children at the elementary school. She could only remember the later days of her childhood, so she found the kids fascinating. For lunch, her class went outside on the playgrounds to eat pizza. They were given half an hour to relive the memories of their childhood recesses on the jungle gyms.

Rowan went off alone to explore. On the edge of the school property, she found an oak tree much larger than any tree surrounding it. For some reason she couldn’t fathom, it looked familiar, so she walked around it.

Close to the bottom of the opposite side of the tree from the school she noticed scratch marks. Kneeling down, she made out the words You Win, Benji scrawled into the bark. She gasped, remembering years ago when she had sat in the same spot and carved out the same words with a sharp rock.

And, just like that, she remembered everything else. It was almost like déjà vu, but she knew that everything actually happened.

Rowan as a child had often sat at the table in her parents’ kitchen coloring pictures alongside a boy named Benjamin. One day, she and the same boy chased each other through the school yard, laughing. Rowan dared him to climb the tallest tree on the playground. Benji climbed way up, but misjudged a step and fell.

Rowan sat there, crying, an entire decade after the incident. Her childhood friend, Benji, had died later that day of internal bleeding from his fall. A week after the funeral, she wrote on the tree so that Benji would know that he won the dare. Then, she had grabbed an acorn that had taken the same fall from the tree that her friend had and kept it in her room. Because of the horrible tragedy, her subconscious mind wouldn’t let her remember what had happened.

Wiping the tears from her cheeks, Rowan thought about the same acorn and how she had so effortlessly tossed it from her window. Looking around her, she saw many acorns, but all of them were broken into pieces.

She returned to her class and numbly read to more children. After school, she searched her front yard for the acorn, but couldn’t find it.

Rowan thought of how the acorn was hidden inside the shell, but still preserved. How easy it had been to just throw out her memories of her best friend! Yet, she still kept the ridiculous candles that had no meaning at all.

People often disregard what is actually the most important part of their life. They replace it with store-bought and foreign-made things. The things that have the most significance in one person’s life have absolutely no value to another person. People should protect what they have instead of throwing it out.



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