Decades ago, a university friend I hadn’t seen for five years appeared while I sat outside my neighbourhood pub enjoying a solitary after-work beer.

“I always admired the way you ignored everyone and followed your muse,” Susan said after a brief hello, how are you.

I stared, bewildered. Since high school, I’d lived in fear of bullies insisting everyone should adhere to their narrow definition of proper behaviour. “Nothing admirable about my conduct. I was a misfit who avoided interaction with others.”

She shook her head. “You stuck to your principles, but I didn’t. For years I lived a lie, pretending to be someone I wasn’t. But don’t let us argue. I found you because I need your help.”

She sipped the glass of wine she brought to the table while I nursed my beer. I’d applauded her bravery when she acknowledged a lesbian relationship during our senior year. Hiding her orientation earlier when it was illegal was sensible, not cowardly.

“What sort of help?” I asked.

A smile brightened her face. “You remember Patricia?”

I’d met her partner in 1969 at our university graduation ceremony. After the diploma presentations, we bypassed the formal reception because I wasn’t comfortable in crowds, and they wanted to avoid bringing attention to their relationship. We sauntered to the campus pub for a quiet celebration before I flew away to graduate school.

“You’re still together, living happily ever after?”

“And we need your help with baby-making.”

I damn near dropped my glass. “You mean sperm donation?”

“Not on. The clinics only accept married couples.”

“At-home do-it-yourself insemination using a turkey baster?”

“Well, sort of. Come to supper on Wednesday. We can discuss the details.”

A few minutes later, she strolled away. I ordered a second beer and contemplated my first serious open-ended commitment to anyone. Have courage, I said to myself; this may complicate your simple, well-ordered life, but it’s the right thing to do.

Now, forty-five years later, I’m sitting next to Susan on that university quadrangle, watching our granddaughter accept her diploma.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

To some this may be a tricky topic, but you used the story line to show how Courage has so many different faces. Not many people could do that. I enjoyed the hint of humour that ran through the story.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
1 year ago

Alan, that is a beautiful story! I have goosebumps. That last line is the perfect ending. Well done!

musing mind
musing mind (@musing-mind)
1 year ago

The ending is so unpredictable yet so relieving. Loved the story.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
1 year ago

I can imagine it would have taken a lot of courage for your main character to make such a life-changing decision. But how wonderfully heartwarming it paid off. I loved the ending; he found his family.

Andrew Carter
Andrew Carter (@andrew-carter)
1 year ago

A really engaging story, Alan. Very authentic, and I loved the surprise ending.

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