A little oneshot.
From Rick's POV, almost as a personal apology of mine for always depicting him so harshly.
The Right Choice
I can't tell you I made the right choice, I think you'll have to accept that, but at the time it seemed like the appropriate thing to do, and I think if you listen to what I have to say, then you'll understand.
You see, I loved Karen from the very first moment I met her, and no matter how hard I try I can't begin to make myself forget that day which was both terrible and amazing. We were seven years old and I was helping my dad outside with the chickens, scattering the seeds on the ground and watching them fight over the grain, often attempting to obtain the same seed although there were plenty more around them. I always found that a strange thing.
I'd been informed that my mother had invited Sasha around for tea and that she might bring her daughter, I was obviously to be on my best behaviour and do my best to make friends with Karen, as I'd been told her name was. I was still at the age where every girl was an icky concept, so naturally I wrinkled my nose and begrudgingly agreed to the terms that I would be allowed to help myself to cookies should I entertain her. Thus that afternoon, as my mother had finished wiping all of the dirt, which was invisible to the naked eye, from my face with a licked finger we saw a young blonde girl bound up the pathway towards us.
She appeared to dance with every step she took, spinning and hopping, lighter than air and glowing like sunlight. She took a running jump and landed a few centimetres away from me, watching me with catlike green eyes, swelling with pride and apparently expecting me to comment on her performance.
"Wow," I offered, with youthful enthusiasm, watching cautiously for her reaction.
"I know. I'm going to be a dancer. I'm going to see the world." She informed me, her mother laughed melodiously, stoking Karen's hair affectionately.
"Our Karen has big dreams already, doesn't she dance well?" She grinned at my mother who nodded in agreement. Sasha than turned her gaze on me, I could feel myself being scrutinised, and so I puffed up my chest and met her eyes.
"And you, Rick, do you have big dreams?"
"I'm going to be a chicken farmer," I announced proudly. "Like my Dad." I added. This statement was ensued by uproarious laughter from all parties as my dad ruffled my hair with his large hand.
"That's m'boy." He chuckled. My mother smiled at me for a moment, she then suggested Karen and I should go and play, but mind we didn't stray too far.
"Do you really want to farm chickens?" Karen demanded as soon as we'd left the watchful eyes of our parents. I nodded, having never considered any dreams of my own, the world seemed too large a place and my dreams were never big enough to fill it.
"That's boring. Mineral town's boring." She stuck out her tongue and placed her hands on her hips. "I want to explore. Let's go somewhere."
"Nuhuh," I shook my head, standing my ground. "Mom said we oughtn't stray too far."
"Baby." Her eyes glowed challengingly as she said this.
"I'm no baby," I replied indignantly, at that age "baby" was considered an extremely offensive comment.
"Chicken… chicken farmer." She said, a cruel smile appearing on her face as she began to make clucking noises.
"Stop that!" I yelled, feeling my eyes well up with tears.
"Chicken farmer, chicken farmer, chicken farmer." She sang, beginning to skip around me in a large orbit.
"Stop it, stop it!" I then gave into my tears. Karen seemed struck by this and immediately ceased her singing.
"Don't cry." But I continued. "Don't cry and I'll show you something special."
I then stopped my blubbering and looked at her innocently.
She then took my clammy hand in her sticky one and began to lead me, it was then I felt an overwhelming attachment towards her, and I followed her blindly, I would forever be her disciple from that moment on, for better or for worse.
She took me all the way to the Goddess spring, disobeying my parent's orders to stay within sight. She then pointed to the waterfall and there I saw a lovely rainbow, wrapping itself between the water and the nearby grass bank.
"There, my mum says it's a sign the Goddess is there, she'll give you anything you want. Make a wish." She demanded, gesturing again to the spring.
"What shall I wish for?" I asked blankly.
"I don't know, don't tell me - or it won't come true."
I thought for a moment, but couldn't for the life of me figure out anything I wanted for myself, my future was set out for me, I'd only have to follow it. So I knelt there upon the damp grass and wished for the only thing I could think of – that Karen would have her dream to be a dancer granted.
As soon as I had made my wish I turned around to see my furious father marching towards me, he immediately grabbed my arm and yanked me to my feet.
"How dare you?! You've scared your mother to death!" He told me, pulling me by the arm back home, leaving Karen to trot along behind.
When I arrived back home my mother indeed looked pale and sick, lying in a chair and appearing faint. I watched her with fear, wondering if I had indeed been the cause of this sickness, for a long time I truly believed her disease was my fault, but that's an altogether different story.
Sasha took Karen home immediately, after smacking her a few times, but as she began to lead her away Karen quickly ran back to me and took my hand.
She grinned at me for a moment. "I wished we'd be friends for ever." She whispered, before running back to her mother.
Since that day Karen has been true to her wish.
My family and I later learned more about my mother's disease, I realised that it was not me that had caused it, just an unfortunate set of circumstances, and eventually I was able to forgive myself. My father set out to travel the world, searching for a cure, and he left me to achieve what had been my destiny since childhood, I became a chicken farmer.
Karen continued to dance, she became very talented and every time she danced I would think about my wish and knew I'd do anything to help her dreams become a reality. We would see each other almost every day, filling each one with memories and very quickly I fell irrevocably in love with her.
It was not until later, when the farmer came that things began to change. I can't begin to blame Karen for falling for him, for he was everything I was not: well-travelled, charismatic and filled to the brim with dreams. He intended to travel the world, then finally to settle down in some obscure suburb with a beautiful wife after working hard to earn the money to support such a lifestyle. He promised her the world, but I could only wish it for her.
So eventually it came down to a choice, for both Karen and me, someone had to choose and neither of us wanted to hurt the other. We both loved each other, no doubt we always will, I will always believe that we are soul mates, but I know her love had transposed to that of a best friend for life, but I would always yearn for her as something more.
"Jack has asked me to go with him, to see the world, Rick. He says I could be a famous dancer and singer." She informed me, her eyes so brightly lit with the hope of the future. "Should I go?"
When the girl you love asks if she should give up the life she's always dreamed of to stay with you, it's very tempting to make the selfish choice. But I knew I would never forgive myself if I forced her to live the mundane life of chicken farmer's wife, to see that hopeful brightness fade from her eyes would break my heart.
I can't tell you I made the right decision, but I think if put into my shoes you would make the same choice. I made an unselfish wish, and I could not by my own doing prevent it coming true, I had to let the one dream I'd ever had become a reality, even if it was hers.
I'm a great believer that if you truly love someone, and I mean truly, more than life, unfalteringly love someone then you should set them free.
So yes, if I were asked to choose again, I would let her go every time, it may not have been the best choice, but I think you'll agree, it was the right one.