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Fiction Inspirational Funny

Every November, on the second weekend of the month, the Saturninus family held their annual gathering. Since Morton no longer lived with his parents, he had to travel a long way to attend this nearly formal meeting, which for him meant taking three ships to reach their remote island at last. He had no time to unwind at the time, as he had to study all day long since the final exams of the penultimate year at his university were nearing. Still, his mother would not permit her triumphant and cherished children, all five of them, three sons and two daughters, not to attend the gathering. Morton was the eldest brother, who hated these matters, as the presumed heir to the island's ruler, his mother. Before the time came for him to officially take up these commitments, he attended a university in the kingdom's capital. As his education progressed, Morton found himself less and less enthusiastic in fulfilling the duty that would unavoidably be entrusted to him one day. As far as he was concerned, the time had come to announce he would prefer another one of his siblings to inherit the rule. Before his mother, his grandfather performed this job, and before him, it was his grand grandfather. The practice has been in their family for generations now and would be passed on further. Yet, Morton had discovered his service to the community, his sacred duty as he loved calling it, elsewhere. He had his preferred heir to the throne, his youngest sister, a bright girl of eighteen years old named Celia, who had graduated and had been running the island's finances on her own for years without anyone's supervision, and without anyone even asking for her aid in the first place. His younger sister understood the numbers well and was surrounded by them every day, beholding the world through them. She was a gifted and brilliant young lady who did not have other interests or ambitions, which made her perfect for a ruler's role. 

On that particular November, Morton arrived at the island and reached a dwelling in the island's center where his parents lived, the one in which he grew up. It was a large house, able to host them for a quick weekend visit. He decided to share his decision with his family after dinner, during dessert, because, at the time, they were the most amiable and content, and no one would object to his announcement, as they would be full and satisfied. At the minimum, they would be incompetent to chase after him when he communicated the news to them. After exchanging greetings with the family, the eldest son went resting in his quarters before the feast, which was to take place in two hours. According to the good old familial custom, knowing its commencement would be postponed, he descended to the dining hall on the ground floor, decorated with the kingdom's insignia, half an hour after the official start. His more elderly sister, Virgilia, a young woman with blond hair and green eyes, was the only one present downstairs, dutifully occupying the table, and they struck up a casual conversation. They anticipated the others to join them. At random, Virgilia asked him if he had a partner because he seemed to have gained weight since the last time she saw him. Morton, otherwise a placid and composed fellow, was vexed by her remark and began to justify himself, as he did not understand why his brothers and sisters would always feel the urge to taunt him. The argument between the brother and sister spiraled out of control, and Virgilia burst into tears and fled the room when he told her he would slap her if she proceeded to make such statements. She returned half an hour later, while Morton was still sitting on the same spot. He contemplated how to inform his parents about his resignation from the duty that had yet been unaccepted. Virgilia sat down at the opposing side of the table, peering at him. He stuck out his tongue at her, and she retaliated the gesture. He was to become a doctor next year, yet he was convinced he would never stop engaging in immature arguments with his sisters. Shortly afterward, his two brothers named Louis and Robin, and the island's prospective leader, came and suggested they played a game while expecting their parents.

Morton refused, declaring they were too old to be engaging in such diversions. The others roared with laughter, assuring him one could never be too old, but only old-fashioned. Louis added they necessitated a fifth player, and Virgilia stated she does not want to take part if Morton is playing because he was disrespectful to her before. He thought of how immature and undisciplined his siblings were and apologized to his sister, so they could proceed, and she feigned not to perceive him and continued to pout in her corner. He forewarned them he would go home because he was unessential to them anyhow, and they were enervating him. Hence, they continued to quarrel in the same fashion for a while until their parents appeared. The siblings did not dare to dispute in front of their mother because she was austere, even though she had a tender heart. They knew her behavior was for their benefit, but they would forget in situations when they would get provoked. Both mother and father, greyhaired and lean, smiled when they witnessed their five children sitting on the ground in the hall, with a plethora of chairs and a massive table beside them, and playing Star, an old children's five-player card game from the First Kingdom era. It was the unique game they could engage in together, and they became experts during early childhood. The game's goal was to pair the same or similar cards. The winner would be the player left with none in his hand. They have accused Morton of cheating, just to spite him, to which he rebelled, and a general outcry ensued. The parents summoned them to the table, and they stated they would join when they finish the game. However, they only proceeded to bicker. 

The chaotic banquet began with a three-hour delay and continued for several hours, with delightful courses. In the fullness of time, there followed a dessert. During, and Morton was eager to make an announcement. Virgilia was still frowning as he coughed and attracted attention. He addressed them with the following words, for which he opted, deeming them simple enough and to the point: 

''Dear parents and siblings. I wanted to reveal the following to you tonight. Next year, I will not take over the leadership of the island. I discovered something else I wanted to do.'' 

His mother and father scrutinized him in amazement, bemused, as did his siblings, who failed to comprehend what their brother desired to do that much that he was now resigning his rightful place.

''That is out of the question," declared the mother in a cold and resolute voice. 

"The duty should go to Celia because she was born to be your heiress, mother," Morton continued, undisturbed by their unfortunate reactions.

 "I do not want to undertake that," replied the timid sister. 

Morton paused, feeling anger build inside him. He hoped the lengthy ordeal would get over with, as Celia would consent to his proposal without objecting. 

"Well, neither do I," he snarled. "Who says I have to?"

"You are the oldest child. You are expected to," Virgilia informed him, wanting to torment him. ''You are being taught in the capital to be fitting to be completing that.'' 

"I do not want... I want something else," he declared in a groggy, high-pitched voice, losing his composure altogether.

"Well," remarked the father gently, "What would you rather do?"

"I want to open a bakery," he chirped, exposing his dream, and his brothers and Virgilia roared with laughter. His mother looked at him incredulously, while his father looked dejectedly at his mother. Celia observed the situation and smiled at her brother, encouraging him in his madness. 

"Son," their mother spoke with confidence, "you are behaving like a child. We did not spend so much money on your education to capriciously decide you do not want to be the ruler a year before you should overtake the island.'' 

Morton burst into tears because he was desperate and dejected, as he did not want to be the local leader, and his siblings tried suppressing a laugh but failed. Out of embarrassment, he decided to leave the room, taking a bowl of chocolate pudding. Ever since Morton learned how to bake bread last year, his sole wish was to become a baker, not a ruler, and presently no one understood him, as even his parents made fun of him. He sat in his room with the pudding bowl and pouted until his junior sister knocked on the door. She was the only one who was on his side. Yet, Morton was outraged as she did not liberate him from responsibility. He allowed her in, and she sat down next to him on the sofa. 

''Morton, the more mature you all get, you act more like children around each other but are otherwise reasonable individuals. Our mother is strong-willed, our father acts not to understand and does not want to listen, and the others giggle. How come you study medicine and want to become a baker? Where did this desire of yours originate from?'' 

''Celia, you do not realize how delightful it is to bake your own loaf.'' 

"How nice is it to be the ruler of your island? Once you become the ruler, you can bake as much bread as you want to!'' 

''Are you sure?'' He asked her, dejected. 

''Well, of course, you will have free time.''

''Will you take the position, nevertheless? I honestly do not want to do that.''

"I will not, and you should grow up and accept your duty," she stated in a stern voice. Morton recoiled anew, and she sighed and stroked his head. ''Everything will be fine. I cannot believe you are fearful, brother.'' This time too, Morton experienced the urge to rebel. 

''I am not scared, and you cannot make me be the ruler. If you are courageous, then you should become the subsequent leader.'' 

''I will not, she stated, ''do not try to persuade me. I am qualified at what I do at present. I will proceed to assist you. You cannot expect I will relieve you of your duty.'' 

During the conversation with his sister, Morton calmed down and reconciled with his destiny. They decided to return to the hall and inform their parents he would take the lead after all. However, as they descended the spiral stairway back to the dining hall, his parents proclaimed Louis, his stocky, black-haired brother with fierce and yet rational eyes, would be the one to take the rule. He was eager to establish himself, was the next in line, and volunteered, so he was the rational choice. He had been sitting in the corner, waiting for his chance to shine.

"You are delayed." Louis stated, grinning, but Morton felt above all relieved. He could start a bakeshop and undertake what his heart yearned for to do. Morton acknowledged his siblings and parents, and they enjoyed a pleasant rest of the evening together before they all returned to their lives. He felt such childlike delight he got relieved of this concern. In the following years, Morton became the most admirable baker in the kingdom, and Louis became a trustworthy leader. Thus, the way things played out on that evening proved to be for the better. Celia resumed dwelling in her realm of numbers, and their parents were exhilarated everyone had discovered their place. Sometimes, being childish when following your deep-seated dreams proves to be the correct way to go. 

November 26, 2020 20:47

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07:52 Dec 03, 2020

You were suggested to me as part of Reedsy's new service - Critique Circles - hence I'm here to help if I may This is an unusual story, and pleasant to read. It seems to be based in a tropical/asian geographic zone - am I right? How lovely it would have been to read descriptions of the scenery and culture. If I were to suggest an idea for future writing, it would be to try ad avoid long paragraphs, especially if the action changes within it. Shorter paragraphs, each dealing with one significant "topic" are the norm. Your characters would h...


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