A Brief Confrontation

by Jason Stotts

“You’ll learn. Oh, one of these days, you’ll learn.” She said it as if speaking across the experiential gap that divides children and adults.

“What is it that I should learn, mother?” He said it simply, inquisitively. The question was more directed to understand her motive than her position.

“You’ll learn,” her eyes narrowing; “that the world is not as cut and dry as you think. There is much in the world that doesn’t fit your neat little ideas about right and wrong. It’s not a black-and-white world out there; there are only shades of gray.”

“Your moral mists have no sympathy from me,” He said easily, her position coming into focus and her weaknesses manifesting as if they were glowing red targets beckoning a strike. “Mine is a world of light and truth.”

“I don’t like the way you’re talking to me,” she said hastily as she arose from the table where they had been sitting. “You need to learn to respect your elders. One of these days you’ll learn and your lesson will be a hard one.” It was as if she almost took glee in the thought of him failing, glee in the prospect of a maternal ‘I told you so’. But it was tinged with fear and said as if to forestall further argument during her retreat from the kitchen.

He continued to sit there for a few minutes more, contemplating what sort of life she must have had, prior to his birth, and what sort of upbringing could have driven her to such absurdity. Clearly, if there was no black and no white, there could be no gray. Yet that was precisely the kind of world she wanted; a vindication for her moral depravity and failure of thought. How could someone think like this? How could they not see the folly of their position? Worse, he thought, how could I be related to her?

The chain was familiar and worn. Although he had had many similar confrontations in the past, they never ceased to amaze him at their childishness nor did they ever seem to provide an answer to his questions.

He sighed as he arose and went back upstairs to his work. To argue with one such as her was its own folly.

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