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Time to Reason and Think

Story ID:8205
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Sambro Nova Scotia Canada
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“Why didn’t you take the garbage out?” My dad yelled at me. His breath smelled of
alcohol – his mood explosive.

“There’s no forgetting your duties, son!” His tone became more venomous as we argued.

“I said I was sorry. Why didn’t you do it? If you knew it was to be done and I forgot, you
could have done it.”

It was the wrong thing for a young boy to say to his dad. I knew it as soon as the
words left my mouth. I ran from the house and sought solitude.

A warm Nova Scotian sun sparkled off the small waves in the harbor. Stirred by the hint
of a breeze, they glittered like a field of diamonds. I put my oars into the punt, braced my legs
and pushed against the bow. The small boat slid easily down my grandfather’s skids and into the
water. I held it steady and climbed in.

I slipped the oars into the locks and began to row vigorously. With each stroke, I heard
the slap of waves against the bow and felt a little of my teenage hormone induced anger

In the middle of the harbor, I passed a fishing boat on its way to the fish plant. It docked
with the other boats waiting to unload their catch. Its passing created waves that rocked my small
craft. I clung tight to the sides of my boat until they subsided.

The fish plant grew small. I continued to row out of the harbor. I bobbed pass the
government wharf as another fishing boat, on its way to the busy plant, went by. Its waves
rocked me again.

I pulled the oars rhythmically – the motion comforted me. My anger subsided. I was
reminded of my grandfather, his strong arms rowing me across a lake on a fishing trip.

I approached the channel toward Powers Island. At the mouth of the harbor, I was alone
on the sea. My oars dripped sparkling water with each stroke.

Around the tip of the island, I spotted a rocky beach and headed in its direction. The
bow scraped against the gravel shore. I stepped out and pulled my punt onto land. Spruce
trees towered in front of me. Beaten by harsh winters, they showed the scars of time: broken
branches on their ocean side, some bent by the wind. How many people had stood in this spot?
To a young teenager, the question got the better of my imagination.

“Was I the first person to stand on this spot? Who could have been here? Pirates? I
bet pirates once stood on this shore, looking for a place to hide their treasures.”

There was no treasure, only my imagination.

I rowed my little boat back to my grandfather’s wharf. My temper calmed by the
exertion of rowing; visions of pirates in my mind. The island held secrets I’d never learn. In the
centuries since our little village was discovered, who knew what happened on that small patch of

On my walk home, I realized I’d been wrong and disrespectful to my father. The exercise
and being alone on the water and my dreams helped me.

I opened the door to our small house. Dad glared at me. “Where have you been?” he

I ignored his anger and question. “Dad, I’m sorry. You were right. It was my duty to take
the garbage out. I failed my duties and you.”

Those words diffused the situation and took down the wall between us.

“Well …OK, but don’t let it happen again.”

“Yes, Dad.”

I went to the room I shared with my two older brothers, glad the anger was gone. There
times we need to step away from trouble; time to be alone and reason with your emotions and

Michael T. Smith