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That's How It's Done
"If memory serves me correctly," the old man had a ghost of a smile on his weathered face, "you had exactly the same intentions, mmm? It was your grand scheme as well, to leave and never come home." Kendrick Fritz grimaced in response, but said nothing. The situation was absolutely different after all.
"What is so different, then, between your medical aspirations, and ---"
"I was nineteen," Fritz broke in, unable to be silent any longer.
"Nineteen and going to college, for god's sake! She's seventeen--"
"Eighteen, Ken, Eighteen." Ana Fritz stood in the doorway, an expression of annoyance on her face,
"Doesn't change the fact that you're too young! You have no plan, no direction! God, do you even have any money? Or are you and your little starving artist roommates just going to go without food? That may sound romantic, but you won't even skip lunch. Have you got an answer for me Ana? Do you have a way of making a living?" The expression on Ana's face had shifted from one of annoyance to one of fury.
"Oh we can't all be like you 'Saint Kendrick' saving the day, coming home from medical school to civilize the natives. Flouting your knowledge in our faces, treating us like we're stupid! Do you know how that makes us feel? Do you think you are doing us some kind of favor? You make me sick! For your information, I do have a job. A good job, all right? I'm not going to be a starving artist, I'm going to work part time in an office."
"Enough." The brother and sister turned their flushed faces away from each other, both remembering at the same moment that there was someone else in the room.
"You have made your mutual disapproval for one another's lifestyles quite abundantly clear." He began in his quiet way, earning their rapt attention.
"Kendrick, Ana is eighteen. She is fully capable of making her own decisions. And yes, I am aware that she just stuck her tongue out at you behind my back. This is not news to me." He turned to Ana who was slightly startled and not a bit repentant, and smiled.
"Ana, sweetheart, I have watched you grow up, from a tiny little baby to the young woman standing before me. Now you are branching out, and you are going to find that you have led a very sheltered life here. It is natural for those who love you to worry. Also, your claims that you have no intention to return have, dare I say it, hurt the feelings of those around you? Present company excluded, I am sure. Perhaps those around you would not hold on quite so tight if you were not so determined to make a clean break of it." Ana looked as if she might reply but she choked up instead. She simply reached forward and threw her arms around the old man's waist. He looked shocked, but pleased. He patted her head.
"So I'll hear from you soon?" She stared up at him for a moment and turned to Ken.
"I could use a hand. You know, moving into my new apartment."
Equally formal, her brother replied,
"I could help you." Ana seemed to deliberate for a moment before hugging her brother goodbye as well. She walked slowly to the door.
"You know, I'm not really going that far away." She paused in the doorway without turning around. "Visiting wouldn't be that big of a deal." On that note the door slammed behind her and as they heard the sound of her old truck on the unpaved driveway, the older man clapped the younger on the shoulder.
"And that, my boy, is how it's done." Dumbfounded, Ken could only stare as the old man started to walk from the room. He had succeeded, with a few well chosen words, in what Ken had been trying to do for months to no avail. When Ken finally retrieved his breath, he raced after him.
"Did you do that for me? Did you change my mind as well?" The old man stared at him intently for a long moment.
"It is not difficult," he said finally, "to change a mind that was never made up in the first place.