“It’s his choice,” Evelyn would remind him whenever he brought it up. “Simon is old enough to determine what direction his life will take him. We have given him all the options and training we can.”
Paultin stared out the window of their cottage at his son, bringing back pails of water from the stream. Simon was feeding the horses, while Evelyn and Paultin finished lunch.
“He’s really good with music.”
“Mmm-hmm. He could be a bard, but he can be a cleric and still sing. It would just be different music from what you would.”
“And Pelor? Why not the Raven Queen or Lathander?”
“That’s who he was called by,” Evelyn reiterated for what had to be the hundredth time. She placed the last plate on the table and turned to Paultin. “How many times do we want to cover this?”
“He could change his mind,” the bard grumbled.
“Paultin, he is heading to the temple in a couple days. If you have anything you need to say to him, you need to do it now.”
“No, it’s fine, I just don’t understand why he would want to be a cleric.”
“Are you that disappointed that he isn't becoming a bard? I would have liked him to be a paladin, you know, but he isn’t. He is his own man, the way we raised him to be.”
Paultin turned his attention back to the window. He watched Simon water the horses. The boy was telling them how he would miss them.
“I’ll be gone soon, but I’ll still come visit when I can. Y’all make sure to take the folks for nice long rides.” Simon smoothed their manes as he spoke. “But be careful, because they aren’t getting any younger.”
No, I guess, we aren’t, Paultin thought quietly.
“They aren’t sure about my decisions, but I know what’s best for me. I can share my story with a lot of people, and I can tell them how they too can change for the better. I want to be an example for people, and make my folks proud.”
Simon began brushing the bigger horse. “Everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone.”
Paultin thought back on the time since they had gotten Simon. How many times had Evelyn died? How did they survive the things that killed their friends? How did he manage to love again, and find love that accepted him unconditionally? And how in the hells did they raise a puppet-turned-human into such a good boy, a good man?
If there was ever an example of second chances, this family was it.
Evelyn walked up and wiped a tear from his face. “Hey, what’s got you so upset now?”
“I’m not upset. We raised a good boy, didn’t we?”
She smiled knowingly. “We did. Why don’t you bring that good boy in for lunch?”
They shared a quick peck before Paultin went outside.
“Son, your mama wants you to come to lunch. Apparently, you can’t heal the sick and fight on an empty stomach. I wouldn’t know.”
They shared a laugh. “Well, I gotta take Mama’s advice then.”
As Simon walked past him, Paultin stopped him. “I do know one thing though, more than anything else.”
“Oh? Well do share, Dad.”
“I am proud of the man that you are, and no matter what you choose in life, I love you. Always will.”
They exchanged a look before Simon began to nod slowly. His eyes got wet as he found his words.
“I know you do. I love you, too.”
“Alright. Remember that bit of knowledge and you’ll be fine.”
“Always. Thanks, Dad.”
As they hugged, Paultin caught Evelyn looking at them from the window. A powerful, praying mama and a charismatic father. What more could a boy need in life?