Decisions, Decisions: A Story of Right and Wrong Choices
Helen, Age 11, Calgary, AB

Patrick stared blankly at the TV screen. Although it was a bright, sunny morning, he refused to do anything but watch television, his favorite pastime.

“Patrick, honey!” called his mother.

He rolled his eyes. What was it NOW?

“How about you go outside? It’s a beautiful morning, and I want you to get some fresh air.”

“Fine, fine,” mumbled Patrick.

Patrick slipped on a light coat and wished his mother didn’t care about him so much, even though that was what she was supposed to do. He loved his mother, but sometimes she was overly protective. As Patrick stepped outside, he noticed something that hadn’t been there yesterday. Or the day before. In the hedges that acted as a fence, there stood a door. He rubbed his eyes. It was still there. ‘Too much TV last night’, he thought in disbelief.

Despite his incredulity, Patrick headed toward the mysterious door. As he entered it, he eyed the statues of angels that stood guarding it. They seemed to be reaching out in protest, pleading, ‘No! Don’t go through the door! Your fate should be any but this.’ Patrick ignored this plea and persisted in his journey through the entrance.

At the end of the tunnel, he noticed a strange place, in which there was everything that he had ever dreamed of having, everything he had ever wanted. An unlimited supply of televisions, game boys, x-boxes; any electronic gadget that one could think of stood right in front of him, just waiting for him to use. For a few moments he gazed in wonderment at… all his dreams come true.

Patrick felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Lovely, isn’t it?”

“Uh, yeah,” Patrick was startled by the ancient woman, who would have been graceful and tall in her young age, but was now old and wrinkled. Patrick exclaimed: “I want to stay here forever.”

“You have been granted one wish: stay here, or go back to reality. Think carefully; if you take the wrong path, you will forever regret your decision.”

Patrick spoke immediately, without thinking. “Of course I want to stay here! I can have anything I want here.”

Patrick had barely finished his sentence, when the tunnel he had just walked through, closed slowly, almost like it regretted shutting its passage. The old lady forlornly watched it lock.

“This is the final decision, Patrick. You cannot undo it. Not now or ever.”

The old woman hobbled away. Patrick paid no attention to the woman eying him, almost sadly. ‘Funny’ thought Patrick, for a nanosecond. The thought quickly disappeared from his mind. This place was practically filled with an unlimited supply of TV’s, computers and every other electronic device he could imagine. It was heaven to him, and he belonged here.

Three days had passed in Patrick’s fairytale land. He was extremely tired, as he had spent the last two nights watching TV and playing games on the computer. Patrick’s eyes were baggy and he was grumpy.

He missed his mother. At least she could tell him when enough was enough. And even he knew that this was enough. But what else was there to do? His conscience knew the answer even before he asked. Nothing.

Feeling depressed, Patrick sat on the couch in front of one of the televisions. Suddenly, the old lady materialized in his head.

“Enjoying your fantasy land still?”

Patrick shook his head. She already knew that, he could tell.

“Your decision was not the right one, was it? You may end up like this:”

An image appeared in Patrick’s head. He was slouching on a sofa, the television blaring in his ears, looking slack-jawed and bored. He was still in this bizarre place. Patrick realized: This was an image of himself years from now! He had always imagined himself as a child. This didn’t seem like the greatest idea anymore.

“Or you could have been like this:”

Another picture was cast into his mind. Patrick’s mother was hugging him, him ready to go to school. Patrick remembered that he always thought that his mother was embarrassing him, but now he understood that it was a gesture of love towards him. This was too much to bear. He started to cry.

“You can’t let me live like this for the rest of my life!” he cried. “I realize my mistake now! Please let me go back!”

“Prove yourself and I will,” whispered the old lady, her image fading from his mind.

Patrick sat in depression for the next ten minutes. Then he knew what the old woman meant by ‘prove yourself.’ He had to prove that he truly loved his previous life, his mother and everything that he had left behind. But how was that possible?

He pondered this problem for the rest of the day. As darkness fell, a solution occurred to Patrick.

“Old lady, whoever you are, please come to me,” he prayed. “In person,” Patrick added. He blinked. The old woman had become visible to him.

“What is it that you require?” The old lady looked slightly annoyed with Patrick, like she had been through this before.

“Open the door to reality. I now understand how much I value my old life. I very deeply regret making this choice to go where I had wanted, without any thought as to what I would be leaving behind. Please give me another chance to make my decision.” Patrick hoped with all his heart that his wish would be understood.

To his surprise, the old woman looked accepting of the words that he had spoken. Patrick was also shocked at how much those three simple sentences represented his thoughts and feelings.

“This is what I have been waiting for! All these years and not one child has realized his mistake that quickly and acted meaningfully about it. I highly value your wish to return to your former life. I will grant it.”

With a flourish of her hand, the door creaked open. A wave of relief washed over Patrick as he stepped into the proper story of his life. He heard his mother call to him:

“Patrick, time to come in!”

Patrick realized that barely any time had passed when he had been in his ‘fantasy’ land. Well, what would his mother say if he had actually been gone for three days? Eagerly, he called back:

“I’m coming, Mom!”

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