Sally Stackhouse | Stories

DECISIONS by Sally Stackhouse

Rob sat on the corner of the wall; his thoughts wandered all over the place.  He kept trying to focus, trying to work out what he could say to his young cousin.  He knew it was up to him to have a talk with him, Max couldn’t go on the way he had been, missing school, shop lifting, giving his parents so much angst, it was a wonder they still kept their sanity. 

Man sitting on a rock overlooking a body of water
photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash

His Uncle Bob, who Rob was named after, as his mum had a real soft spot for her cousin, just couldn’t get through to Max, no matter what he tried.  Enough time had elapsed for somebody else to try and make the young lad see sense.  

Rob thought of Eloise and where she was at the moment.  She’d gone off on one of her adventures, although she was a bit of a daredevil, he loved her with all his heart.  He knew he would never change her and he didn’t want to.  Her last email showed her trying to transverse across a rickety wooden, slatted bridge of a large water course.  One puff of wind and she’d be hanging on to the ropes for dear life.  

After a couple of hours and a very numb bum, Rob left his perch and wandered home.  He called up to his mum to say he was home. 

A muffled reply of, ‘I’m up here,’ came floating down the stairs.  He dashed up to the landing and found his mum rearranging the clothes in the wardrobe. 

Eloise stopped in the middle of the wooden, slatted bridge spanning the water.  She took a deep breath as she looked down at the raging torrent below her.  Ha! Raging torrent, my foot.  More like a babbling brook.  It probably had pretentions of raging during the winter months but she couldn’t really see it. 

girl walking on a rope bridge over a river
photo by Jasmin Ne on Unsplash

As she returned to an upright position, gripping the ropes tightly, she heard the rooks cawing and cackling, jeering at her. 

You can’t do it! You won’t do it!

Yes, I can! Yes, I can! She chanted back at them.  

With another deep breath she took her time, placing one foot in front of the other she steadily made her way to the end of the rope walk.  She sat down heavily on the grassy knoll, trying to steady her heartbeat.  Gradually its rhythm returned to normal as she sat and pondered on what she had just done.

She knew Rob would be at home, waiting for her, his love and loyalty something she trusted with all her heart.  She didn’t tell him how much she appreciated him allowing her to spread her wings.  Hmm, ‘allowing’ was the wrong word.  Nobody allowed her to do anything she wanted to do.  If she wanted to do it, she would find a way to do it, she didn’t need anybody’s permission.  She was independent, a grown woman, able to make her own decisions but ….. but she really missed Rob’s strong and steady influence.  Once she returned home, she would do her utmost to make sure he knew how much she loved him. It was just that she wasn’t ready to settle down in to a humdrum life, spend several years in the rat race, commuting to the office every day until her biological clock started to kick in and she was ready for motherhood.  

Would Rob wait for her?  Was she willing to take that risk?  Perhaps this was the last adventure she would undertake on her own, maybe they could find something to do together. 

Yes, that was a good plan.  She’d think about that when this trip was over. 

colorful housedresses
photo by Finn H. on Unsplash

Martha thought to herself, ‘ever wished you’d never started a job?’  Going through her mother-in-law’s clothing was turning out to be heart-wrenching.  She thought she was ready, after all it was more than a year since Doreen had passed away.  Jim couldn’t do it.  This was something practical she could do for him and take this last burden from his shoulders.  What they would do with this room she couldn’t even begin to hazard a guess.  It had been Doreen’s space for so long, ever since she’d come to live them five years ago.  It hadn’t been as hard as she thought it might be and Doreen had fitted in to their family unit so nicely, not interfering but being there with a listening ear when needed.  

Boy, did they need her wisdom now in how to deal with Max, Bob’s teenage son.  Rob had promised he would have a chat with him and see if he could help set him on the straight and narrow before it ballooned in to more serious offences.  

Now, if only his lovely Eloise would come home and stay home.  Martha sighed again as she rummaged through the dresses on the hangars, she knew nobody should, or even could, clip Eloise’s wings, they would just have to wait and see.  

She heard Rob come home and call up to her.  She knew that he was the crutch her and Jim and Eloise and Bob had come to rely on, he certainly took after his grandmother in that respect.  


Word count: 864


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