Young heart

produce-stand-tomatoAuthor’s Note: This is the final chapter of a three part short story. If you would like to read the previous two chapters, please visit Hot dog and Chance encounter.

As he watched the bus pull away from the curb, Lloyd sat back down on the bench. He didn’t have another delivery until later that afternoon. He couldn’t help but intervene, or at least attempt to, in Derek’s situation. He wished someone would have done the same for him in his younger days – not that it would have been likely to make any difference.

Lloyd remembered the expensive suits, the fine dining opportunities that he relished so much, and the aspirations for a corner office on the top floor. He had lived in that world in some past life. He pushed everything that was ultimately important to him into the background – relegated to sometime later when he had accumulated the prestige and money to do what he really desired – open his own restaurant. He exchanged his time for money, unprepared for the realization that he would never get that time back.

It was the strangest day in Lloyd’s life. Dressed to the nines, walking down the street after a chaotic day in the office, he paused in front of a local produce cart on the street, looking for the perfect ingredients that comprised his infamous spaghetti sauce. He picked up a tomato and held it in his hands. He couldn’t explain it – and it never would do any good to even try – but it was as if the delicate texture of that fruit softened his own thick skin and allowed him to see what was really important to him, for the very first time in his life.

That chance encounter with a tomato – yes, a tomato – caused Lloyd to do the unthinkable. He left the security of his high paying career. What he also left behind was the chaos that accompanied it. He opened his own produce delivery service using only the decrepit bike sitting next to him and his own two feet. He always had a gift for choosing the perfect piece of produce. His discerning sense of sight, touch, and smell was appreciated by some of the finest restaurants in New York City. And they paid him quite well, relatively speaking, for his expertise. Did Lloyd have his own restaurant? No. What he did have though was a sense that he was helping to create the most magnificent meals, for tourists and locals alike, that he appreciated so much.

The knowledge that he was making a difference in the world, however small it was, in a way that he felt passionate about, caused Lloyd to smile inside and out. It took him longer to come this realization than he may have hoped. But, as they say, better late than never. Not only was Lloyd perceptive with produce. He had the same insight into human behavior. As confident and ambitious as Derek appeared to Lloyd, there was something in his body language that spoke differently.

And although Lloyd’s attempt to uncover the root cause of Derek’s situation was not welcomed, he felt that he needed to at least try. He hoped that time would not escape Derek’s grasp like it had for him. He had done all he could do at this point.

Seated in the city bus rolling out of downtown, Derek pulled the wallet back out of his pocket. Guilt washed over him for even feeling the need to check that everything was still there. Driver’s license, credit cards, social security card, not even a single dollar of the fifty-seven in his billfold appeared to be missing. As he thumbed through the bills, one by one, he finally came to the conclusion that there was nothing missing. In fact, there was actually something in the wallet now that wasn’t there before. It was a small piece of paper folded into four, about the size of one of those small pocket notebooks he used to record homework assignments as a child in grade school.

Unfolding the paper, written on one side was a message in a language he understood perfectly – In economics, opportunity cost is the next best alternative you give up when you make a choice. When we choose one thing, we refuse something else at the same time.

On the opposite side of that paper was a message that would make sense to him at some time in the future, after he had accumulated a bit more experience. Lloyd had hoped this particular message, although confounding right now, might help Derek short circuit the path to understanding.

It takes a long time to grow young. ~Pablo Picasso

luna-lovegoodDerek wasn’t sure why, but he felt an uncanny desire at that moment to purchase a blank canvas for the wall of his new apartment in the city – and to create upon it his own vision, to splash upon it colors in a random, yet redeeming way. The childhood artist inside him poked his head from behind the curtain of adult responsibility to reveal itself – momentarily. His ego would most likely intervene this time around, pushing such a frivolous and silly yearning to the back burner in preference for his lifelong ambition of wealth and prestige. One’s deepest desires, however, are very subtle – and persistent. His inner voice would continue to court Derek until he accepted the invitation. His physical body may have been growing older by the day, but Derek’s heart was growing younger – and wiser – with each passing minute.

Author’s Note: Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and comment – may your heart continue to grow young in pursuit of your deepest desires.

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13 thoughts on “Young heart

  1. Dalo 2013 March 3, 2015 / 10:00 am

    I enjoyed this ~ the finding something that brings a true feeling of contribution. It is people like Lloyd that really do make this world go round, as they bring a sense of quality to the day. The feeling I have when Derek read the note and then buys the canvas (similar to how us bloggers open up WP), makes me think of the Lloyds out there in the world who are there to help us understand “It takes a long time to grow young” and perhaps we are or will be a ‘Llyod’ when we grow older… Well written ~ an enjoyable read and fantastic conclusion/moral to this short story. Cheers!

    • davecenker March 3, 2015 / 3:10 pm

      Thank you Randy, I always appreciate your thoughtful insights. I have to say that I can definitely understand your analogy between the canvas and WordPress 😉 Here’s to being open to messages from the Lloyds in the world and becoming one in the process 🙂

  2. Hariod Brawn March 3, 2015 / 10:47 am

    I like the way you have woven philosophy into this short story Dave; it gives one something to contemplate and derive meaning from beyond the narrative itself. Congratulations on another fine piece of writing. All best wishes, Hariod.

    • davecenker March 3, 2015 / 3:12 pm

      Thank you Hariod, that is a higher compliment than you know 😉 Even more than telling a story, I strive to help others feel the emotion, think about their own lives, and feel inspired to take action. Thanks for your kind words and best wishes for an inspired day!

  3. Writing to Freedom March 3, 2015 / 11:09 am

    Bravo Dave. We all need people like Lloyd to nudge us into looking deeper into our hearts for our deepest values and desires. Or if we are lucky, we have friends and family who model living from the heart. Hugs my friend! 🙂

    • davecenker March 3, 2015 / 3:14 pm

      Thank you Brad, as always. You are absolutely right, we all do need a Lloyd in our life. And they are – most certainly – right there before us if we choose to open ourselves up to them 😉 Thanks for sharing and best wishes for an inspired day!

      • Writing to Freedom March 3, 2015 / 3:30 pm

        I might need to clean my lenses so I can see the beauty hidden in a rough coat like his. 🙂

  4. Don March 4, 2015 / 3:41 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed your story, Dave. Look forward to your next one.

    • davecenker March 4, 2015 / 8:36 am

      Thank you Don, I always appreciate you taking the time to read my stories. Knowing that an artist as gifted as yourself has enjoyed a story is one of the highest compliments I could be given, so thank you 🙂

  5. Marquita Herald (@marquitaherald) March 4, 2015 / 10:23 am

    Just beautiful Dave! I’ve discovered in my research that the feeling that you described so well is why people who reinvent themselves later in life sometimes experience a sense of “coming home” because more often than not they end up revisiting a dream that has been tucked away in the back of their minds and hearts just waiting for the right time to reappear. Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift for storytelling with us. 🙂

    • davecenker March 4, 2015 / 1:32 pm

      Thank you Marty, your thoughtful insights add so much more depth to this story 😉 I think we all have that “tomato” in our lives that, when we rediscover it, it rekindles a feeling and a passion inside at, as you say, the exact right time 🙂

  6. Jill Winski March 5, 2015 / 2:19 pm

    Wow, Dave, this was such a satisfying conclusion to the story! I truly enjoyed it. Loved the metaphor of the soft skin of the tomato — that will stay with me for a while. Well done!

    • davecenker March 6, 2015 / 8:46 am

      Thank you Jill, I am happy to hear you enjoyed the story – tomato reference and all 🙂 It’s amazing how the analogies, metaphors, and juxtapositions in a story organically arise (no pun intended, really) without any conscious thought. Even after I wrote about the tomato, it didn’t sink in for me until I read it again – thank you, as always, for taking the time to read and comment – best wishes for an inspired day!

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