The Path to Acceptance

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
July/August 2015

I could see the silvery clouds roll in. I was headed out of our summer rental in the town of Saignon, France, to buy a baguette. As I walked down the narrow lane I saw the leaves blowing briskly and those marvelous clouds were moving faster all of a sudden. I knew that a storm was on its way. As I ran across the cracked brick stones I could hear the wind start to howl.

It just started raining ample raindrops when I returned to our townhouse with the crusty baguette. I walked in the door and up the helicoid staircase and reached Mom’s bedroom. I could now hear the thunder bellowing in the distance. Mom was sitting on her bed, writing in her journal about our trip.

“Where is Quin?” I said curiously.

“He’s up in the loft, playing with the train he got at the antique market yesterday,” Mom said.

I turned and continued to walk the spiral staircase until I made it to the loft. As I reached the top I could now see hail raining down out the balcony glass doors. Quin gets frightened easily, so I had an idea to turn the storm into something bigger that would really scare him.

The Path to Acceptance brothers playing

I couldn’t help myself from laughing. I guess I like to annoy my little brother.

“Quin,” I said.

“Yes?” Quin said.

Can you believe that it’s raining hail?”

“Yeah,” Quin replied.

“But be careful,” I said.

“Why?” Quin said nervously.

“It is very dangerous, and it’s big and…”

“Just tell me,” Quin interrupted.

“It is the beginning of a tornado,” I yelled, trying to make myself not laugh.

Suddenly there was a big crack of thunder. Hail was raining down. The hail was now the size of a golf ball! The storm was much more severe than I thought. The wind was howling, the ample raindrops were mixed with the hail so you couldn’t tell what was hail and what was rain.

“I don’t want to die!” Quin kept repeating and repeating.

I couldn’t help myself from laughing. I guess I like to annoy my little brother. Quin gets very dramatic very quickly and I find it funny to see that, but this time it quickly became bothersome.

I walked down the creaky old wooden steps into the kitchen and left Quin alone, scared.

As I looked through the kitchen window, I could see rushing water careening through the streets. It wasn’t a flood or anything like that, it was not even deep, but the darkness of the clouds made it look like it was deep. I could hear Mom speaking over the wind howling. In the distance I could also hear Quin screaming in terror. I had lost my patience because I realized Quin still can’t take a joke. He can never seem to let things go. What surprised me was I could still hear Quin screaming two floors below. I felt the cold handle of the refrigerator as I looked for a drink.

Mom said in her sweetest voice, “Quin gets scared, you know. Quin is a really sensitive little boy. Do you remember when we adopted him he was considerably more scared than any other child in his orphanage? He didn’t want to be alone in the kitchen, the bathroom, or even his own room. Every time you make a simple joke, like the time when you said there was a monster in the closet, he feels scared and unsafe. Quin feels things in a more sensitive way than maybe you do.”

“Yeah, but I can’t deal with it,” I snapped back.

“We all have something that scares us. Like you, Logan, you have a fear of bees, hornets, and wasps. How would you feel if no one understood you? Why don’t you try and help Quin?” Mom said in a positive voice.

“But he is scared of everything, Mom,” I said.

Mom’s right eye went up. Mom just looked at me with this look that I call the really look.

I walked to the couch and flung myself on the soft cushions. I started to think about what Mom said and I remembered that a year ago when we went to France I had been stung by a wasp. We were walking up to Château de Saumur. I could smell the strong aroma of grapes in the air. I went to sniff the voluminous grapes and was instantly attacked by a wasp. Ever since that day I find it hard to trust any type of buzzing bug. The buzzing noise haunts me. Every time I hear that noise I am terrified. Sometimes Quin says I am overreacting, but he still seems to understand me. I can see that I am overreacting. I keep my hood on when I am near a flower patch and I jump when I see a bee go near me. I wish I could stop this fear, but I can’t seem to get over it. When I was screaming “BEES!” Quin did not complain or walk away. He helped me and understood my fear. He is my little brother. I am his big brother. I should be helping him, I thought, and I was a jerk for making him more scared than he might have been.

As I heard Quin continue to scream I felt bad, I felt really bad. I should have helped Quin when he really needed me. It was wrong of me to manipulate his fear to frighten him more. I felt myself running up the wooden stairs to Quin.

As I headed up the staircase I could see Quin crying. I needed to fix what I had done. I suddenly came up with a good idea that would take his mind off this crazy storm. “Quin,” I said, trying to be cheerful.

“What?” Quin said through his tears.

“It’s just a storm, let’s play survivor. We have to use things in the house to protect ourselves against the storm and survive,” I said.

Quin’s eyes widened with excitement.

“You’re right!” Quin said, delighted with my idea.

We played while it continued to rain. The storm was our main entertainment. We ran around the house, turning off all the lights, and pretended we were hiding from the storm. In the basement of our French house was an 800-year-old stone wine cellar. It had old wooden barrels that we pretended was our food supply. In that cellar was a stone shaft in the ceiling that was connected to Mom’s bedroom. Quin would throw down important notes and items that we pretended would help us survive.

Quin and I repeatedly said, “Do not worry, we are going to survive this storm.”

I was happy to see Quin happy. After thirty minutes had passed I knew my plan to distract Quin was working. We continued closing the curtains and hiding. He thought it was hilarious. Quin forgot all about being scared, and I liked that. I thought to myself that Quin is a very sweet and kind boy and it was wrong of me to make up something about a tornado that would scare him. I was wrong to do that to him.

When the storm finally began to die down we were curious if the umbrella on the balcony was still standing or if anything broke. We peeked out the glass door and saw a huge puddle and the umbrella was still standing. We played until the storm stopped. As a farewell to the storm we went out into the night. We could see the dark black clouds turning into a marvelous orange sunset. I put my arm around Quin’s shoulder and whispered in his ear, “I love you, brother.”

The Path to Acceptance Logan Gusmano

Logan Gusmano, 11
New York, New York

The Path to Acceptance Tina Splann

Tina Splann, 11
Providence Village, Texas

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