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Grade
8

There once was a small cottage. In it lived two men, a father and a son. This was a normal household in most aspects, except for one thing. The son was cursed with a death sentence. When he reached the ripe old age of thirty, he would perish immediately. Knowing this, the father was very bitter and complained all day and night, cursing the fates that had brought this upon his son. Despite this curse, the son was very bright and cheery, not for once letting his fate stop him. The father and his son had a slightly strained relationship, the curse always the elephant in the room. They lived like this for many years, until eventually, the son reached twenty-nine. Knowing that he did not have much time left, he decided to try something new. “Father,” he said one day, “do you ever want to leave home and try something new?” The father looked at his son, surprised.“Why would you do that? Life here is fine as it is. No use in changing. What if something goes wrong?” The son shrugged, but he didn’t say anything.
Whenever the son brought the topic up again, the father would reply with more or less the same. The son would shrug again, and the cycle would start again. This continued for some time until finally, the son made up his mind.
“That’s it, Dad! I cannot take any more of this. While we have contentment, I want to search for euphoria. I shall leave and return.” His father looked at him. “You only have months before you die. Would you really want to spend them in a dangerous and reckless pursuit of stupidity?” The son mulled over that for some time, then said quietly, “Yes, I think I would.”
He packed up his bags and left.
At home, with the absence of his son, the father began to grow more and more lonely. Still, he was stubborn. “I refuse to go find after him! Why would you go search for bliss, when we had a perfectly content life here?” He insisted on staying home. “Surely he will come home soon, and it will all be okay. He repeated these words over and over in his head, like a mantra. However, no matter how many times he repeated it, how badly he wanted it to be true, he still felt a slight sense of discontentment if he thought hard enough.
This went on for many months, until one day, a message arrived from his son. Father, he wrote, I do not have much time left, and I beg you to come visit me once. Seeing this note, the father’s eyes teared up not wanting to imagine his death. Then, he made the first impulsive decision of his life. He decided to go find his son.
He spent three days traveling, grumbling the whole time. Twice, he almost turned back. However, each time the doubts crept into his head, he reminded himself that this was for his son. He persisted and finally reached the location that his son had sent him. It was a nondescript house, similar to their own house. He knocked on the door, suddenly feeling a little uncertain. Would he still recognize his son? A stronger doubt slithered its way into his head. Would his son still recognize him? Still, he stood in front of the door, preparing himself for whatever happened.
All this was forgotten as his son opened the door, his face happier than it had ever been. “Father, I am so glad you came! You do not know how much you missed out.” He began to speak excitedly, spouting tale after tale of his adventures. Meanwhile, the father stared at his son in shock. When had he ever seen his son so happy? He thought back to their time together, trying to remember, but came up empty-handed. Sure, his son had been content, but never happy. Finally, the son stopped, his face still red with excitement. “Well,” he asked, “what did you do while I was gone?”
He tried to think of something to say but could think of nothing. Suddenly, the father felt an unexplainable rush of jealousy. Listening to his son’s adventures, his life at the cottage had paled in comparison. Hearing his son beginning to pursue his dreams, he began to unlock a box of his own. Suddenly, he knew what he had to do. “Son, will you take me along on one of your adventures?”
As the pair left, the father felt a rush of excitement he had never felt before. He told himself it was childish, but he began to imagine what life would be like if he were to just let himself go. For the first time in a while, he smiled. His son smiled back. They walked like this in companionable silence for a while. Then the son turned to his father. “I know I do not have much time left. No matter what happens in the future, I just want you to know. These past months were the best of my life. I would not have spent them any other way. However, I have one last wish before I face death. I just wished that you could find this type of happiness too.”
A week later, he died. The father sat by him as he breathed his last breath, tears in his eyes. Despite their many differences, he had never doubted the love they shared. Now, staring at his son’s limp body, he realized that in his many years of life, he had never done anything of worth. He had always tried to take the easier path, never taking risks. His son had managed to find more happiness in his thirty years then he had in his entire life. He contemplated this, and then came to a deeper truth.
It had never been about much time a person had. It had always been about how you took it, and how you spent it. Thinking about this, the father made a silent vow to himself. That no matter how he spent his years, he would live his life to his fullest.

State
MI
Zip Code
48105