Nature Versus Nurture


b335d9b3-e4b1-4463-a640-0fc2993fc86e.jpeg“I don’t understand,” Hal said to his wife. “We have two boys, two years apart, both raised in the same household, both exposed to the same things, and the two couldn’t be more different. What are we doing wrong?”

“I’m holding on to the hope that we’re not doing anything wrong,” Judy said. “I just think they have different natures.”

“That’s an understatement,” Hal said. “Richard is downright vulgar, whereas Robert is extremely bashful.” It’s hard to believe they are actually related to each other.”

“I know,” Judy said. “And where Richard is irreverent, Robert always shows great finesse.”

“Well, I just don’t get it,” Hal lamented. “They’re both our sons, so they should be like peas in a pod, not like they are from different species.”

Judy sighed, got a quizzical look on her face, and said, “Hal, do you think it’s possible that one of our boys is adopted?”

“Well, that would certainly address the issue of nature versus nurture,” Hal said.

Written for these daily prompts: The Daily Spur (holding), Word of the Day Challenge (vulgar), Your Daily Word Prompt (bashful), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (irreverent), and Ragtag Daily Prompt (finesse).

Faded Photograph

FC1C948A-0990-42D2-9CCB-D0BF2BF4BA9FI was going through the old desk that we kept in the den and I came across a few old, faded photos I had taken of you a few years ago when we went to Oregon and spent some time at the ocean. You were smiling for the camera, waving and looking like you were having a really good time. Most of the photos looked similar.

But there was this one picture that was different from the others. I distinctly remember taking that picture of you sitting on the sand. You didn’t know that I was taking your picture, so you weren’t striking a pose. You had such a pensive expression, as if you were deep I thought. A sad, melancholy thought.

I was too far away from where you were sitting when I took the picture to see a tear here and there gently caressing your cheek. But when I came over to you and noticed the tracks of your tears on your face, you told me it was nothing. You said that the beauty of the setting sun brought tears to your eyes.

I didn’t believe that for a minute, but I suppose I was hoping that whatever was causing you to be so sad was ephemeral and would pass in a moment. Or perhaps I was simply too self-possessed to notice how unhappy you were and I hate myself for being so obtuse.

I was such a control freak back then. I know now how that, along with my jealous nature, was enough to drive you away. You wanted us to go to couples therapy, but I stubbornly refused. I didn’t think we needed a fancy, high-priced shrink to serve as a referee when we were doing battle. But in 20/20 hindsight, I can now see how wrong, how foolish, I was.

As I look at this faded photograph, it reminds me of what we once had and how I let you slip away. If only I knew then what I know now, how different our lives might have been.

Written for these daily prompts: Word of the Day Challenge (similar), The Daily Spur (tear), Ragtag Daily Prompt (ephemeral), Your Daily Word Prompt (control), and Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (referee). Photo credit: I applied a filter to give it the look of an old, faded photograph.

Taking Stock of Things

3B82C04D-49BC-4756-9E79-B305439198A3“Is it too much to ask for some peace and quiet?” Sharon asked her husband, Nick, on the drive home to Chicago from a disastrous weekend in Cincinnati.

“Oh you don’t want to talk about what happened last night at the wedding reception?” Nick asked in an icy cold voice.

“Fine, let’s talk about it, Nick,” Sharon said. “What on earth did I do to make you so act like such a jealous bastard?”

“Are you serious, Sharon?” Nick asked. “Well, for starters, there was that affair you had two years ago with that coworker of yours. You know, the one who you couldn’t keep your horny hands away from his pants zipper.”

“Come on, Nick. That was two years ago. It’s ancient history, crissake. And it was just one time.”

“So you claim, Sharon,” Nick said. “But then last night you were all over that son of a bitch at the reception. Some random guy standing near me pointed to the two of you and said, ‘Hey, those two should get a room.’ How do you think that made me feel, Sharon?”

“Nick, you’re being ridiculous, Sharon said. “He was a fascinating man He’s traveled all over the world and is a marvelous storyteller.”

“I’m being ridiculous?” Nick said. “That guy was such a fig.

“I think the word your looking for is ‘prig,’ Nick,” Sharon said. “And yes, he was a bit of a prig. But I really enjoyed his energetic nature and his enthusiasm for life. If you would have joined in on the conversation instead of hanging out by yourself at the bar and feeling sorry for yourself, I’m sure that you would have enjoyed listening to him, too.”

“Oh really?” Nick said. “Well, I’m sorry if you feel that I’m not interesting or energetic. I’m just not a real emotive guy, Sharon. It’s not in my nature. But what I do want is for us to take what we have together and nurture it, Sharon. I want to make us stronger and better together.”

“I know, Nick,” Sharon said. “But you need to stop being so possessive, so jealous, so controlling. We can be together without smothering each other. I think you need to take inventory of what you want out of life and whether or not the two of us are right for one another. And when we get back to Chicago, I think we need some time apart while you take stock of things.”

Written for Paula Light’s Three Things Challenge, where the three things are “fig,” “Cincinnati,” and “zipper.” And for these daily prompts: Ragtag Daily Prompt (peace), Your Daily Word Prompt (jealous), The Daily Spur (energetic), Word of the Day Challenge (nurture), and Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (inventory).

#writephoto — Society’s Burden

A063B15A-5050-49BF-9AFF-07B9C59CAAA3First thing every morning, without delay, Doug would go to the tall stone wall. He’d take a deep breath and inhale the sweet fragrances carried by the breezes coming from the other side. The scents reminded him of his youth and the aroma from the rose garden in the backyard of his childhood home. The smells would only increase his desire to know what mysteries lay beyond the thick wooden gate. Always locked, though, that gate kept him inside of the perimeter of the old stone walls.

Doug had spent most of his life within the walls of the asylum. Society had deemed him, and others like him, to be too great a burden. The accident when he was five had cost him his mobility and confined him to life in a wheelchair. He was taken from his mother and father to be “cared for” by the State. It was in his and society’s best interests, his parents were told. They would have to sacrifice their son to the care of the State for the greater good of society.

It had been nearly twenty-five years since his confinement began. He was completely shut off from the outside world. They explained to him that, given his special needs, he would be too much of a burden to others and to society to be on the outside. The handicapped and disabled had unique needs and requirements, he was told, that could only be accommodated behind thick stone walls in asylums like this one.

But the State had limited resources and the law required that those who resided within the walls and who could not function on their own as able-bodied members of society by the time they were thirty would be humanely transitioned to the next world, where their spirits were not broken, as their bodies were in this world. In all of his time inside the stone walls, Doug had never known of any other “residents” who were reintegrated into the world outside.

Doug took one more deep breath and then slowly wheeled himself back to the residence building. Today was his thirtieth birthday and Doug knew that he would never again smell the scent of the roses.

Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent. Also for these daily prompts prompts: Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (delay), Your Daily Word Prompt (inhale), Ragtag Daily Prompt (rose), The Daily Spur (increase), and Word of the Day Challenge (sacrifice).

You Get What You Pay For

E184707D-3E6E-4AF0-B3CB-0C26E06F4903“Dammit!” Marla exclaimed. “This food chopper is supposed to be unbreakable, but look at this. I just bought it yesterday and it broke already.”

“Well what did you expect?” her twin sister and roommate said. “That’s what happens when you go to that bargain store and buy something with the label ‘Piece o’ Shit’ on it. You need to stop being so damn cheap and to spend your money more wisely. You get what you pay for, you know.”

“Why do you always have to admonish me?” Marla said, tears starting to well up in her eyes. “I thought sharing an apartment with a sibling would be a good thing, but you’re constantly criticizing me. I was just trying to chop up some veggies to make us both a nourishing snack.”

Feeling badly, Carla came over to her twin and gave her a hug. “I’m sorry, Marla,” she said. “I’ll try to be a better sister and roommate going forward. I’ll try hard to ignore your bad habits and the stupid things you’re always doing and to not go all haywire on you.”

Written for these daily prompts: The Daily Spur (unbreakable), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (label), Your Daily Word Prompt (admonish), Ragtag Daily Prompt (sibling), Word of the Day Challenge (nourish), and Weekly Prompts (haywire).