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General

1949     

Benjamin wiped the sweat from his brow as the sun beat down mercilessly on him. Confusion filled his face while he observed the two paths before him; unsure of what to do he walked over to the tree that stood behind him, his suitcase suddenly felt heavier than usual.

He lowered his tired aching body and leaned against the tree, grateful that the tree was in full bloom. The shade lent him a bit of relief from the hot sun; Benjamin plucked his fedora from his head and set it on top of his suitcase.

"Which path do I take?" muttered Benjamin thoughtfully examining each path

One path was well worn and the other less so and according to his notes the well-worn path would lead him to the exciting city of New Orleans. This was the path that everyone he knew suggested he take. However, now that he saw that there were two paths, he felt more confused than ever.

"Where will the other path take me?" mused Benjamin closing his eyes as a fresh breeze rushed over him.

As he sat and pondered his two choices, a jalopy made its way towards him at neck breaking speed. Without warning, the jalopy screeched to a stop, a plume of dust seemed to engulf the man sitting underneath the tree.

"Hey, are you okay?" called the driver

"Thank you, sir...I am fine." stated Benjamin giving no further explanation

"Why are you just sitting there? Are you lost?" asked the driver

 "I am trying to decide which path I should take. While I know the path leading to the left will take me to New Orleans, I don't know where the other path will lead me."

"Word of advice friend, if given two choices always go down the path that will lead you to a city as fine and fun as New Orleans."

"What if the other path is better?"

"It never is...if your sure you don't need assistance?"

"I'm sure, thank you." replied Benjamin nodding his head

The driver simply chuckled and stomped on the gas pedal, once again leaving Benjamin choking on the dust caused by the spinning tires

After a few moments, peace and silence was once again restored the moment the vehicle had sped off. Benjamin sighed a breath of relief as he returned his thoughts to the choice before him.

"If I take the less traveled path, I could either have the adventure of a lifetime or if the worst happens, I travel back to this spot and take the well traveled path."

The sun rose higher still, causing the heat to become more unbearable. The crickets and the birds sang gleefully as Benjamin continued to sit beneath the tree. Benjamin pulled out his pocket watch to see that the time was nearing noon, his stomach growled out its lunchtime reminder as he slipped his watch back into his vest pocket.

He pulled an apple and a slice of bread from his suitcase and settled down to his light lunch. 'I was hungrier than I thought...good thing I packed lots for this journey.' thought Benjamin as he munched on his apple

"If I take the path, I know will lead me to the city; I know exactly where I will be going and what to expect." said Benjamin softly, "If I do this though...I could be missing out on an adventure of a lifetime," 

"Though I know that New Orleans will provide me with quite the experience. I do wish it were possible to walk both paths at once, that way I could be sure I was making the right choice."

The clip clopping of a horse’s hooves pulled Benjamin from his musings, he curiously observed the rider and horse as they guided a black and white cow down the road.

 'Perhaps this stranger can tell me what’s down the unknown path.'

The rider raised his hand in greeting; Benjamin cheerfully returned the greeting. He folded his handkerchief and returned it carefully to his suitcase, waiting for the farmer to stop in front of him. Benjamin hoped he would receive a favorable answer so that he could be on his way.

 "Howdy stranger! Where're ya headed to?" called the farmer

"Good afternoon, sir!" smiled Benjamin feeling relieved, "You see, I am trying to decide which path I should take...what would you suggest?"

The farmer remained quiet for a few minutes thinking, wanting to give a sure answer to this inquiring stranger.

 "To be honest, I've only taken the path to New Orleans for the odd occasion." informed the farmer shrugging, "I am sorry I cannot tell you what is down the other path. Though I can tell you that if you are wanting a good time, take the path to the left."

  "What if the path to the left is the wrong path for me?" asked Benjamin curiously

"Well than I reckon you could make your way back and take the path to the right."

 "I suppose you are right..." agreed Benjamin reluctantly

The farmer simply nodded and continued on his way, leaving Benjamin feeling more conflicted.

'I don't understand why this decision is so difficult." lamented Benjamin sadly leaning back against the tree

Feeling exhausted, he decided to close his eyes and hoped that when he woke, he would have his answer. ‘Perhaps I will find the answer to my dilemma in a dream.’ thought Benjamin as he drifted into a peaceful sleep

A short while later…

Benjamin slowly opened his eyes as he stretched his arms; checking his pocket watch again, he saw that it was two o’clock in the afternoon. He smiled, pleased to find that he still had plenty of time make a decision before the sun descended. He shifted in order to get into a more comfortable position. He glared at the two paths, hoping that a sign or something would indicate the more favorable path.

In the distance, he heard a ringing noise; Benjamin looked up and saw a young woman riding her bicycle along the road. Just like the jalopy driver and the farmer, the young woman stopped and for a few moments, stared at him warily.

 “Are you lost?” asked the young woman wrinkling her nose in distaste at the state of his wrinkled suit

 “No, I am not lost.” smiled Benjamin nodding politely, “I am trying to decide which path I should take…the one to the left leads to the city, however, I have no knowledge of where the path to the right would lead me.”

 “Why not just go down the path to the right to see what you can find and if you do not like what you see…simply turn around, find your way back to the tree then simply take the path to the city.” suggested the young woman, “That way your curiosity is satisfied; who knows you might like what the path to the right has in store for you.”

Before Benjamin could respond, the young woman cycled down the road away from him. He thought about her words and realized that her suggestion made the most sense. If he followed her advice, he could experience what both paths had to offer.

Benjamin placed his fedora back on top of his head, grabbed his suitcase and stood. He looked once more at the path leading left before focusing his gaze on the other path. He walked until he was in the middle of the road.

 “I will take the path to the right.” grinned Benjamin happily, “I will satisfy my curiosity and once I’ve had my fill of spontaneous adventure, I will make my way to the city of New Orleans.”

With the sun on his back and the decision finally made, Benjamin whistled a merry tune as he began to walk down the overgrown path towards an unknown adventure.  

March 21, 2020 01:47

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2 comments

VJ Hamilton
00:50 Mar 26, 2020

This story is an interesting allegory. It looks at how difficult it is to make a decision. I like how it's set in the recent past, 1949, and how carefully the writer has included consistent items e.g., jalopy, fedora and handkerchief. I love the sensual details, especially the heat of the sun and how welcome the breeze is. The noises are vivid--screech, clip-clop, and ringing bicycle bell. There's a great 3-part structure going on. Benjamin craves reassurance from a stranger. Stranger #1 says, "Word of advice friend, if given two c...

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Randi W
03:43 Mar 30, 2020

Thank you, I appreciate your feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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