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Flash Fiction: Perspective

Out of the Sandbox

By Aaliyah Anderson

The car pushed down the road as Ella looked up from her lap and stared past the windshield into the distance. Dusk was emerging. Trees flew from her line of sight into a foggy memory with each mile she and her mother gained. They had about an hour left until their destination.  Ella paused for a moment. She shifted her head to the right facing the glass window. Her stare was trained on one particular spec on the glass, while her mind tried to focus on the overall vastness involving their travel. She let in a large breath and held it for a few counts.

After a couple seconds, she released the cloud of carbon dioxide and finally muttered to her mother, “I wanna be great.”

The car was still for a moment, as if the statement was trying to process or sit long enough in the air in order to make its identity known.

“In what context?” her mother replied, not taking her eyes off the winding road ahead of them.

“In life. I wanna do great things in life,” she sighed.

Her mother nodded. Her silence quickly played as an excuse for Ella to add, “I wanna be great at whatever I decide to do.”

“Like?”

“Everything.”

“Everything?”

“Well, maybe not everything,” she chuckled. “But, there’s plenty of stuff I want to do that would deem me as one of the greats.”

“Is that so?”

“Of course, it’s cool to excel at a particular subject or art…but why not try and prosper in multiple fields?”

“That seems like a lot.”

“I’m always up for a challenge,” she smirked, shrugging her shoulders. She turned her head to look at her mother whose eyes were still glued on the road. She looked completely dedicated at giving her full attention to her surroundings.

Ella twisted her head back to right side window and presumed, “Why is it that we’re expected to stick with one job for the rest of our lives? Graduate high school, go to college, find a career, get married, and die. I mean c’mon, are we really as human beings this dry and structured? I wanna learn and not just in the classroom, but from trial and error, and mostly from experience. There is no better teacher.”

“Like what?”

“What?”

“Experience. What type of things are learnt from experience?”

Her mother slightly turned the wheel slanting the car’s initial direction. Ella pressed the top of her head against the window, turning herself over to her thoughts, all the while, pondering her mother’s question.

She took a brief moment and added, “Courage. Compassion. Loyalty. Empathy. Love. Those can’t be taught.”

“How so?”

“You can tell me to be courageous or even replicate “courageous” qualities to me, but that won’t necessarily make me courageous. I have to learn that by myself. If I wish to be brave, reading books and even watching videos won’t grant me courage. Will I know the steps? Maybe. Will I know what attributes makes someone courageous? Sure. But I will never exemplify a courageous individual until I take action.”

Ella froze and her face lit up in realization.

“I’m starting to notice more and more, that life is all about action.”

“Really?”

“Yes, telling and explaining is crucial in certain aspects of our lives, but in terms of our goals and dreams, vision without action is utterly useless.”

Ella’s mother nodded once again, and guided her palms lower on the steering wheel.

Ella continued, “We can have all the best ideas and interesting concepts known to date, but if you don’t put effort into making them happen…what is it for? See…that’s what I think separates the greats from the others. It’s action. Too many people settle in life because they think they don’t have the tools to make a change, or they just blame their circumstances. What are they doing besides dwelling? They certainly aren’t making any moves.”

Ella huffed and shook her head. The sun was beginning to set over the horizon, and she pivoted for a final time to peer out of the translucent glass into the large stretch. She suddenly heard the radio get louder, followed by her mother who started to hum along silently to the transmitted melodies. She wanted to tell her more and express more of what she felt. But her mouth remained shut, and she reached her slim fingertips out to touch the window. Ella traced patterns and bored designs on the glass.

She released her ideas out in a defeated sigh. She imagined them floating in the open for a moment, confused whether to enter back into her mind. However, when she tried to grasp them, her mother mechanically rolled down the window, and her ideas rushed out as quickly as they came, accompanying the fall breeze.

 

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