This short story is great for people who want to understand more about themselves and their fears.
Original cover art by Paola F. Rey
His heart was telling him to quit, but for some reason he was too scared to go through with it. Clarke was one of the top students at his law school in England, but he wanted to quit for a reason he knew many people would criticize him for, especially his parents.
Clarke consulted with his most trusted professor at school, who told him to travel to a mysterious old mansion on the outskirts of town, where he would find a former professor that could help him. He thought it was strange, but trusted his professor.
In Clarke’s spare time, he had learned to make shoes out of fine leather and had realized he wanted to create and sell shoes for a living. But leaving law school to make shoes was unheard of, as most cobblers struggled on a daily basis to earn any kind of living.
He had explained his desire of quitting to his parents, but they told him that it would be a huge mistake. They argued that no one they knew made any money off shoes and that Clarke should instead stick to the family business of practicing the law.
After hours of travel, Clarke found the Victorian mansion his professor had described. It had a classic Victorian Era look to it, but it had clearly been neglected and was in need of repair.
Clarke knocked on the door of the mansion and they opened to reveal a man in formal butler attire.
“Who are you?” the butler asked.
The butler nodded at Clarke’s response and beckoned him to follow him down a long hallway leading into the mansion.
Clarke followed the butler into the mansion and marveled at its beauty. Although it was dusty inside and in need of some cleaning, it was clear that the mansion had been decorated by someone with a lot of money. The butler eventually stopped ahead of Clarke, next to the entrance of a study room lit only by the flickering light of a fireplace.
Clarke entered into the room and saw a chair facing the fireplace, hiding the identity of whoever was sitting in it. All Clarke could see was the hand of an elderly woman resting on the chair’s arm, wearing a silver ring featuring a rose gold flower inlaid with a shining crystal.
“I don’t get visitors anymore. Who sent you?” the woman in the chair asked, who sounded elderly.
“My mother sent me. She said you know her and that you used to teach law. She said I should talk to you about why I want to quit law school,” Clarke responded.
Clarke’s most trusted professor at his law school was indeed his mother.
“I know her quite well. Come and tell me, why do you want to quit?” she asked in response.
Clarke sat down on a couch in the room and explained why he wanted to quit law school to instead make shoes. The woman listened in silence and remained in her chair, facing the fireplace, even though Clarke could see that it was capable of spinning around.
“No doubt, you have thought out this idea and you believe in it. What is stopping you?” the woman said.
“Honestly, I think I’m afraid of it not working out. I’m afraid that I’ll disappointment my parents too,” Clarke answered.
“You’re not the one who is afraid,” the woman said.
“What do you mean?” Clarke asked.
“Those fears you have are not yours, they are just your parents,” the woman responded.
“They sure feel like they are my fears,” Clarke said.
“You only fear disappointing your parents because you are afraid of not living up to their expectations. Understand that their expectations for you are driven by their own fears. People are afraid of the unknown and being a cobbler is a big unknown to them. They have simply transferred their fear to you in the form of expectations,” the woman said.
“I guess that makes sense, but I’m more worried about what will happen if I quit school and it doesn’t work out. I think that’s my real fear,” Clarke said.
“Most of our fears are taught to us by our parents. I know that your parents pushed you from a young age to become a lawyer, just like them. Part of the way they sold you that path was by putting down other paths. They made everything other than being a lawyer seem less successful and thus, more scary. You are afraid of it not working out because your parents taught you to be afraid of anything that isn’t becoming a lawyer,” the woman said.
“It’s true that my parents did always tell me I should be a lawyer, but how could you know that?” Clarke asked.
“Well, I know your mother better than you think,” the woman said.
“What do you mean?” Clarke asked.
“She’s my daughter,” the woman said.
The chair began to move as the woman slowly spun herself around. Clarke instantly recognized her face from old photographs his parents had of her. It was definitely his grandmother, but there was a problem.
“Grandma Alexandra? My parents told me you died, before I was born,” Clarke responded.
“That depends on your point of view. But here I am,” Alexandra responded.
“Why would my parents hide you from me?” Clarke asked.
“That’s something you definitely need to ask them,” Alexandra responded.
Clarke got up from the couch. All he wanted to do was get home and have his parents explain why they hid his grandmother from him.
“Before you go, understand that you must free your mind from its cage. Take an honest look at yourself and question how much of what you think and do comes from your parents. You will find much of it does. You must train your mind to question the reason behind everything you do and think,” Alexandra said.
“I need to go ask my parents about why they kept you from me. Right now that’s the only question I have,” Clarke said.
His grandmother’s butler appeared in the hallway to show him out. As Clarke entered the hallway, he thought he heard his grandmother’s ring drop to the floor, but he kept walking anyway.
Clarke traveled home as fast as he could. He felt betrayed. He felt angry. He felt confused.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Clarke yelled, as he stormed into his parents’ home and found them in the kitchen.
“Hey, just relax. We were always going to show you, but you forced our hand with this quitting school nonsense. We just wanted you to see what a career in law can bring you. The mansion needs work, but someday it will be yours,” Clarke’s mother said.
“I don’t care about the mansion! What about grandma?” Clarke asked.
“What? Grandma left you the mansion in her will Clarke,” Clarke’s mother replied.
Post Story Extra: The people who raise us shape us. As you get older, you become more of your own person, but it is important to realize that the longer you have had a certain belief, the more likely it is that it came from your parents. If you cannot explain why you believe or act certain ways, you should see if it came from your parents.