February 3, 2018, Prescott-
(This is a very short story, prompted by this past week’s back and forth between the Federal government and Wall Street, and the ongoing roiling about sexual harassment.)
Seth woke at his usual time, on Friday. He had just been told of a huge gift, from his father. In times past, he’d have been ecstatic. Seth had always been a sucker, for what his parents and family deemed “good news”. He was never one to look for the cloud, behind every silver lining.
This gift, however, seemed different. He had been getting lots of presents, recently, but had done nothing to earn them. It was starting to wear on his psyche. You see, Seth had always been one to roll up his sleeves, use his own ingenuity and forge ahead, at a modest pace. Usually, this meant intense periods of activity, followed by rest, which was most often understood by his family.
For the past year, Seth had been at it, full tilt. He had enjoyed the adulation this brought and it propelled him to even more feats of energetic achievement. On the sidelines, however, were stories of mistreatment of his sisters, his girl cousins and several of their friends. Father devalued the women, several of his favourite uncles, and a few of the aunts, discounted their stories. One of the loudest voices of disavowal came from an uncle who had himself been brawling with Father, all the while insisting that he, himself, was one of the best friends the women would ever have. Yesterday, this uncle unleashed a broadside at one of the ladies” friends, calling her a liar, after she had said something derogatory about a grand-uncle, who was a well-known lecher. To him, this grand-uncle had been a “paragon of virtue”, meek and mild, never ever causing harm. The friend knew differently, and was deeply scarred by her encounters with grand-uncle.
All this led Seth to snap. Having the women feel good about themselves was essential to the work that Seth had been doing. After the morning’s gift arrived, Seth put it in a box of his own, and sent it, and several other gifts of the past year, back to their senders. Father, incredulous, fumed that that none of his gifts were appreciated and that this ungrateful wretch of a son would be more closely supervised by his brothers.
Seth shrugged and, like Atlas before him, pondered whether he might shrug some more- and return still more gifts, while taking a good long rest.