writing about writing

Easy To Be Brave From A Distance

Posted by Flood on April 25, 2006

The little boy was in a field adjacent to some land owned by a chicken farmer. Most of the chickens ran free, but a hen house near the fence gave refuge to mother hens and their chicks. The boy liked chickens but he did not let himself get distracted by the task at hand.He tossed up his baseball and quickly swung as it fell. Strike. He tried again and hit a home run. He kept practicing and was into a good groove when he ran out of balls and had to walk to the other end of the field to start again. On his way, he thought about the kids in the neighborhood who wouldn't let him play. He wasn't sad about it, but kept hope that they would come to the field to play tag or something and see what a master he was of the bat. His mouth moved as he talked to himself about how he would modestly accept their approval.He found all but one of his balls and began again, hitting to the opposite direction. His stomach told him he should soon go home for lunch, but the addiction of the toss-swing, toss-swing, swayed his brain to ignore the rumble.

On his sixth ball out, the wind changed or his bat was not true or some God somewhere thought he might like some excitement and the ball sailed into the air, too far to the right. Way too far to the right. It bounced off the chicken coop's tin roof, and landed in front of the birds' entrance. The plonk of the impact startled the chickens and they ran in disorganized panic. The boy dropped his bat and walked almost half way to the fence and stopped when he noticed the dent in the roof.

He looked around for any human witness. He was partially sure that he was alone and he wondered what to do next. Should he go get his bat, what balls he had left and go home? Maybe the dent was already there and it wasn't his fault. Maybe no one heard the chickens cluck for help. Maybe the farmer wouldn't notice or wouldn't care about some dent in the roof of his hen house.

He sat down where he was, and pulled at blades of grass. He began to think about the Big Picture his brother told him about. "You never see the Big Picture, stupid. You gotta learn to see the point in everything." Today, the Big Picture must look like this: No one would play with him. He decided to play alone. He was careful, but a ball went where it should not have gone. No chickens or people were hurt, no windows were broken and the damage that was done, was small. Small in the Big Picture. So the point was no harm, one foul.

In spite of the Big Picture, the boy had a bad feeling. He felt as though he had done something wrong, even if it was an accident, but couldn't say exactly what it was. Would he be expected to tell the farmer what he had done? Would he feel better if the farmer yelled at him or forgave him? His mind raced and he thought in circles until he was worked up into such a frenzy he could think no more. Now, his chief concern was the fear he felt. He couldn't understand why something so small had grown so large in his mind. He could see the Big Picture but couldn't accept it in his tummy. He wondered if maybe he was going crazy. He stood up and walked toward his bat. He was angry at himself and angry at his fear. He kicked at the ground. He thought he may as well leave.

He heard a storm door slam and footsteps on dirt behind him. He turned to see the farmer looking at the chickens and then look in the boy's direction.

'You hear anything out here, son?' called the farmer.

'Up yours!' screamed the boy.

And he charged home.


4 Responses to “Easy To Be Brave From A Distance”

  1. Anonymous said

    What an awesome short story. It really reminds me of my carefree days as a youth in the dog-days of summer.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Lyn said

    Great little story. Reminds me of the salesman who talks himself out of the sale before the door opens. lol, nicely developed but not predictable – good punch at the end. I can just see it. 🙂 lgp

  3. Flood said

    Thanks, Lyn, nice to hear good things. I suspect you might have a criticism or two. If you ever do, please share. I’ll tell you if I think you are crazy.
    (‘You want me to change what?! How dare you knock down my word gift?!’ etc.)

  4. Lyn said


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