This story is about how the problems in Luke’s life – which he overcomes – helps Ruth to overcome hers.
Luke was an 18 year old boy, a child of divorced parents who had frequent anxiety attacks and who happened to be a clean freak; obviously for those exact reasons he always felt like a freak anywhere he went and especially in his school, he felt like he never belonged.
Ruth was a 38 year old woman with 2 children. She was an extremely unhappy woman because her husband never paid any attention to her. She felt unwanted most of the time and being an equally ignored English teacher at Luke’s school didn’t help much. Though she was really passionate about the subject, her bright but impassionate students made her regret teaching that class every single day.
Luke didn’t think he had much to live for. He felt like his existence served no purpose at all and he hated that fact. His anxiety attacks left him feeling completely defeated and weak and the other students would always judge him too harshly.
It was Sunday, like any other regular Sunday. Luke had an assignment from Mrs. Ruth. He had to write an essay describing who he was and who he wanted to be. He decided he’d title it, ‘The Ideal Self’. He was a good writer and usually had no difficulty wring on a topic, but that day for some reason he couldn’t pen down his thoughts. Every time he would think about who he was at the present moment, his mind would draw blank. It frustrated him to no end. He realized what the problem was that was creating the writer’s block for him – he had no idea who he was. He decided to take the most obvious route to self discovery; revisit the past. But the problem with that was that his past was the root of his anxiety that’s why he’d shut everything in a box and put it away somewhere he would never have to think about it again. But that say he decided to be brave. For once in his life, he held his breath as he took control of the thread of his thoughts as he retrieved the box. It was filled with hundreds of Polaroid pictures, a Polaroid camera and an old journal. He just sat there for an hour staring at the contents of the box with a defeated gaze. He sighed. He knew he had to do this to get over every bit of the pain no matter how small or insignificant its reason was. At least that was what his therapist had said. “Now is as a good time as there’ll ever be’. He gave himself a pep talk as he gathered himself and picked his mother’s journal up and began reading.
Within the pages of that journal that dictated his mother’s life before she decided to take it, the words held him captive. He never knew the reason behind his mother’s decision to extricate herself from the lives of all those that loved her and cared for her; but now he got it for not only did he understand the reasons but felt what she had felt when she decided to end it. He knew now that all of it was his father’s fault. He was to blame for how weak Luke had become. He learned 2 things that day. First; his mother had a stressful life – being cheated on by her husband and all – her decision to end it had eventually led him to where he was today. He knew who he was now, a struggling human, weak in some parts of his life and strong in others. He had to be strong or he wouldn’t have survived the loss of his mother. He was a boy on a journey to become a strong dependable man just like every other human on this planet. He was no different from the others. He was no freak.
And the second thing he learned was that words has the ability to shed light on the truth and move people to change what needs to be changed and become what needs to be a good human. With his heart full of pain but understanding and his mind whirling with thoughts, he sat and wrote his essay.
Monday morning Mrs. Ruth received all the essays from her students. Most of them were exactly what she had expected; not thought out and written as if it was just another duty to be completed. But then again, she wouldn’t expect anything else from this creativity deprived generation that loved playing slave to the newest technologies. But there was one essay that stood out. It was by Luke, a student she knew housed huge potential to become one of the most influential writers of the age.
As she read the essay about a beautiful, innocent sheltered boy fell apart because of his parents’ mistakes and how now, he is the one that struggles to become strong and become a normal functioning teenager that deals with a lot of stuff every minute of every day, she connected with her student on another level. His words had moved her to tears and his life story mostly consisting of tragedies one after the other had caused sympathy for him to grow in her.
She wished his father hadn’t done what he had and prayed to somehow fill Luke’s empty heart with the help of a mother’s love that he so desperately needed.
His words made her realize that her life wasn’t so bad after all. People have seen worse and she knew she was stronger than she’d believed herself to be. So, with the thought of her two children – smiling at her – she decided to make a phone call that would change not only hers but her children’s lives too.
“Hello?” a gruff but very familiar voice answered.
“Listen you cheater. For the sake of our children I have tolerated your nonsense so far. Your assistant might be the beauty of the year, but she hasn’t given you what I have; two most amazing children that you could ever have and it’s about time that you get your head out of the gutter and get your life together, if not for your sake then for our children’s sake. If you fail to do so, I swear I will rip them away from you, move ten countries away and leave you with your empty life right where you would be right now-in your assistants lap, having the temporary time of your life. Consider this as your last chance. If you screw everything up in our marriage once more….I swear to god we are done! For our children’s sake, get your life together because at least two people in this world depend on you.”
Getting all of that off her chest, she felt a lot better. She had realized that day that Luke’s essay might just have been the thing she needed to get her life in order, even if it meant giving her cheating husband her chance, all for her children. She would not let that man ruin their lives like he almost ruined hers. With a satisfied sigh, she gave Luke an A.