Higher Learning

3 Jul

Here’s another 100 word story for Friday Fictioneers, an ever changing group of authors from around the world who use a weekly photo prompt as a catalyst for their work. This week’s photo, shown below, was graciously provided (thank you) by David Stewart. Stories can all be seen here. Check them out or write one yourself or both. Live a little. Stretch your wings. If you’re wondering whether you can, the answer is yes, and it will be awesome.

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for organizing, herding cats, putting up with serials, serial killers, vampires, zombies and her constantly changing and/or misspelled name. She is a diamond in the rough and we are fortunate to have her in the driver’s seat.

Higher Learning

I spent graduation night in the company of pigeons atop the rusty township water tower. Earlier in the day, Mrs. DuBois had given me the quarter credit I lacked but attending the ceremony didn’t feel right.

Much later I realized my parents had given up and that my guidance counselor just wanted her books cleared. I don’t blame them. Somewhere along the tortured road of childhood I’d found a way to escape into myself and even if they’d tried, I wouldn’t have let them in.

 Nothing is ever as it seems.

 Forgive yourself and others.

 Remember to enjoy the view.

Sat outside and looked at the stars

I can attest to the truth of this.

P.S. Do not read on if you are pressed for time.

P.P.S. (You have been warned.)

P.P.P.S. Once I got things sorted out I decided to become a fireman. Here is a short video the photo prompt brought to mind. It is just one of the many skills we were asked to master at the firefighter’s academy.

P.P.P.P.S. I washed out early on and decided to join the navy and become a submariner because I knew that flooding would likely put out all the fires and my ineptitude as a fireman would remain a secret. The rest is history.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Do not click here either.

21 Responses to “Higher Learning”

  1. Kwadwo July 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    The last three lines below the story are deeply profound. Thanks for the good advice.

    • Douglas MacIlroy July 8, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      Dear Kwadwo,

      Funny what you pick up after time thrashes you for a few decades. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  2. vbholmes July 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Remembering Ted’s photos of the observatory where you work, your observations about the stars carry a valid personal message for you (how did you get from firefighter/submariner to stargazer?)

  3. Linda Vernon July 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    I guess when all is said and done, there really is only the enjoyment of the view. Well done.

  4. Carrie July 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    I wish I lived somewhere I could see the stars each night. It is the ultimate relaxation 🙂

  5. JKBradley July 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Great wisdom. From one squid to another, thanks.

  6. sustainabilitea July 3, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    My comments are, in order:

    I don’t know if this is autobiographical, autobiographical as prompt or made up of whole cloth but it’s wonderful and true.

    One of the wonderful things about being in the mountains every summer is being able to look into the night sky sans artificial light and be amazed and humbled and, for me, to have my faith in the Creator reaffirmed.

    P.P.P.S.–Holy cow!!


    Don’t go there–Hahaha!! My favorite movie with Matthew Broderick, though, is “Ladyhawk”, one of our favorite movies of all time.


  7. rochellewisoff July 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    Your title made me laugh. Your story made me cry. Layer upon layer, so much said and unsaid packed into a the space of 100 words. Thanks for the extra insights, etc. I’m never disappointed when I come by for a visit.



    P.S. Thanks for the intro nod.

    P.P.S. I love the starry sky photo.

  8. Craig Towsley July 4, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    Ah Doug,

    So good to read you again. It feels like the Master has returned to FF.

  9. lingeringvisions by Dawn July 4, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    I have a dream, that one day all teachers will be able to teach all children.

  10. Jan Brown July 4, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    This introverted vision is somewhat different for you! I also loved the follow-up posts…guess I must have too much time on my hands 🙂

  11. Sandra July 4, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    A thoughtful piece. Nicely done.

  12. valeriedavies July 4, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Oh Doug, your usual knock-out punch!
    I’m all over the place after reading this – feeling every step and every layer…
    So moving, so painful, so poignant, so true and so truthful.
    Each time I read it, I feel lost for words because I see and feel so much in your perfectly balanced and chosen words.

    And then I did all the clicks!
    And laughed my head off with the brilliant Russian gladiators ! I didn’t know we had fire-fighting in common – though my training was much more leisurely and sedate than yours , if yours was like that !
    Back to shock with the submarine… and I won’t tell you how I felt about the boy.
    So glad you’re writing again, I so enjoy your beautifully balanced stories.

    Do you still do your star-watching? I’ve never forgotten that story you wrote about it….

  13. sandraconner July 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    Okay, you had me — lock, stock, and barrel. I followed all the way through every P.P.P. etc. And really did laugh out loud at the “end” video. Your story is great. And most definitely, beholding the stars makes us see ourselves and our whole life in a better perspective. For me, it’s because I know the Creator, but for anyone, it has to make a difference.

    Great work — as usual.

  14. Spider42 July 5, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    The sentiment is all too true, for all kinds of folks from all walks.

  15. rgayer55 July 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    I got a chuckle regarding Rochelle’s ever-changing name in your intro. The story (or insight) was fabulous as usual. The videos and history lesson was cool too. I’m going home now, before you shut the lights off.

    P.S. – We live far enough from town that we can enjoy the stars, and often do.

  16. unspywriter July 6, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Yes, great advice at the end and great visuals in the story itself, up there with the pigeons. 😉

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/carpe-diem/

  17. Lindaura Glamoura July 6, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    Oh, Doug, you are a man after my own heart, and my skipped graduation and escape to San Francisco, where I met Charley, aka, Carlos, and continued to drop out of college 3 or 4 times, becoming a rock and roll singer, etc. Nicely told addendums.

  18. Dee July 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Dear Doug
    Your writing always captures the heart, I loved this. Thank you for sharing the story and the brief insight into your journey thus far.

  19. Sarah Ann July 8, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    I so enjoyed the insight in your story, and the additional info. Such an interesting and enjoyable post.

  20. David Stewart July 9, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    There’s a lot of good metaphors in there. The tortured road and great view remind me of when I go mountain climbing; specifically when I ask myself why I do it, and then when I realize the answer, respectively.

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