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Jacob Flowers: A New Chapter of Heaven

The families who lived in the Pastures of Heaven were blessed with fertile

land. The sun would brake off into perfect beams that painted the grass a verdant green, and colored the flowers that lined the roads a bright goldenrod. Pale white clouds moved gently above a vacant lot that stood at the end of the street with an old rusted sign that read: The Pastures of Heaven. The lot itself comprised of not much more than a patch of dirt, and yet for Jacob Flowers he saw the perfect place to begin his masterpiece. According to the town’s history books a young couple once occupied a home on the very same grounds, but one fateful night the house was knocked down by a stronger than usual gust of wind. Some felt God was punishing the couple for living in sin; others simply chalked it up as ghastly luck. Despite this colorful piece of town history, the townspeople and Mr. Flowers remained positive. Jacob was married to Alyssa Worth, who he had met through his parents setting them up, and as luck would have it, they got along swimmingly. Alyssa was pragmatic and loyal, while Jacob was a perfectionist and recklessly passionate. They helped to balance one another out. They had two children; a set of twins, David and Abigail, both eight years old, that shared their parent’s pragmatic yet optimistic outlook on life. Jacob was a lawyer back in San Francisco, a profession he deemed counter productive in his quest to pursue his dream of becoming a novelist, and ultimately to make a name for himself as an artist. In the coming months Jacob elicited the help of local laborers to build his home. In the meantime he and his family remained in San Francisco and waited in eager anticipation for it to be completed. At last it came time for the entirety of the


Flowers family to make their way to the Pastures of Heaven, prompting Jacob to quit his job at the law firm and take all his savings with him. When they finally arrived the children cried out in excitement while the parents began unloading the furniture. It seemed like just yesterday the lot lay empty, and now a medium sized brightly colored home stood before them, and its visage inspired each family member’s own version of Eden. It didn’t take long for the Flowers family to feel welcome in the Pastures of Heaven. Neighbors from around town brought them presents and studied the newcomers’ faces for traces of the big city. Jacob set out from the beginning to win the respect of all his neighbors, for it was crucial to Jacob that his family fit in and hold a respected social status. Raymond Banks, a neighbor of the Flowers’, and one of the men who had helped build their house became good friends with Jacob. Raymond often recommended what types of wood to use and helped teach Jacob the satisfaction of working with one’s hands. The two men dined together and shared stories of the city and pastures respectively. The children were welcomed in the schoolhouse warmly by their fellow students, who were often regaled by tales of life in the big city. Even their schoolteacher Miss. Morgan felt the two added a breathe of fresh air to the old schoolhouse. Meanwhile, Alyssa enjoyed her days spent with the ladies of town who got together on Mondays to discuss local happenings. These meetings would also be intermixed with a healthy dose of town gossip. The one question that was often raised when speaking with Jacob Flowers and his family was “why leave the big city?” This was a fair question. Although living in the country is ideal for some,


those who have experienced it first hand couldn’t help but scratch their heads. Why would two well off people suddenly up root their young family and move out into the Pastures of Heaven? Raymond posed this particular question at Jacob one warm afternoon while the pair finished painting the backdoor of the Flowers family home. Jacob answered as he always did with a slight hint of defensiveness, and explained to his friend that he had grown weary of working long hours and not spending enough time with his wife and kids. Jacob expressed his desire to move out into the country away from the constant distractions and create a legacy for himself by writing a book that would live on long after he was gone. After that Raymond never asked Jacob about why he left the city, that and he really wasn’t that interested. News of Jacob’s prospective novel spread across the Pastures like wildfire and people began to look at the family with an air of reservation. Would this man write about them? Who does he think he is to show up out of nowhere and begin writing lies and fairytales about us? He claims to love the bible, but we’ve never seen him at church! Finally, one morning while Alyssa was having breakfast with some of her friends, she got word that a rumor had been going around that her and her family had failed to support themselves in San Francisco and that her husband was planning on writing a book about the naiveté of country hicks in a tell-all book for city slickers. After a full day of mean glances and harsh words Alyssa finally returned home that evening to give her husband the bad news. Feeling insulted, Jacob scoffed at the idea that his neighbors would even dream that he would waste his time writing of such banal pitter-patter. Alyssa remained calm, but was fully


aware of her husband’s insatiable desire to prove his artistic abilities to others. Jacob stormed out of the house and let the freshly painted screen door slam on his way out the back door. Since that unpleasant day, Jacob set out to prove himself to his family and his neighbors that he was capable of writing a masterpiece. His neighbors weren’t the first people to belittle Jacob’s artistic merits. His former partners at his law firm often mocked his poetry and short stories. His literature professor at Stanford deemed him “average” and incapable of writing something truly inspiring. Jacob cringed just thinking about the word “average.” Before sitting down to write, Jacob began thinking of the book that inspired him the most, and that was the holy bible. Despite what many would think, his family never went to church, nor prayed for anything good to come their way. Jacob relied on himself to create his own destiny. The bible to him was the greatest and most inspiring piece of literature ever written. He was enthralled by the central theme, which he believed was “order versus chaos” a struggle that every human understood. While some looked towards the bible for spiritual guidance, he turned toward it for artistic inspiration. Jacob felt that his story should appeal to a mass audience and offer ways in which to live one’s life, but without sounding too preachy. Jacob set out to write his own story of biblical proportions, which was to be titled: Ageless Agony. The story highlighted the struggle for artistic perfection and the tragedy of falling short. The story followed the legacy of a royal family dating back to the Roman times and all the way up to the present day. What tied the long history of the family together was their shared struggle for creating everlasting art. Each era featured a character that


would endure immense trails, and then would be stricken with divine inspiration that helped them create a piece of art that defined their generation. Jacob was enthralled by the idea of a history of perfection. He identified with his characters, for he too felt overwhelmed by forces out of his control that kept him constantly striving for the best. In the coming weeks Jacob would spend day and night at his typewriter spinning his “epic” yarn. Alyssa started to become worried. Her husband hadn’t often exhibited this level of extreme behavior. Even Jacob’s children began to notice their father’s odd behavior. Back in San Francisco, Jacob would arrive after a long day at the office and plant himself firmly on the sofa. Jacob would then ask his children if they wanted to hear a story from the bible. Both Abigail and David were amazed at the bravery of Moses, the undying dedication of Ruth, and the trials and tribulations of Jesus Christ. These were larger than life figures that both Jacob and Alyssa hoped their children could look up to. However, these days Jacob resembled no such figure. Instead of helping cut grass and firewood for his neighbors, Jacob would stay up all night feverishly typing away his story that he knew would win the admiration of his generation. Alyssa began to worry as their savings continued to dwindle away while Jacob ignored his duties. Alyssa did all she could to make ends meet by baking pies for her neighbors. Each night while taking a break from writing Jacob assured his wife that everything would be fine after he finished his novel. The family would be able to live comfortably and without worry, but that great art must be allowed time to develop. Alyssa would tell her husband that he was being irresponsible and that


he had a family to take care of. Jacob would shrug her off and state that she simply just didn’t understand the mind of an artist. One night Jacob sat down his wife and kids and told them that he had something he wanted to get off his chest. Jacob expressed that he understood his family was upset with him, but he assured them greener pastures were ahead of them and how like the Israelites, the Flowers family would endure and reach the promise land. Jacob then grew quiet, and softly spoke of a dream he had had the previous night, where he received some form of artistic inspiration. The dream featured the city of San Francisco completely submerged underwater, with Jacob and his family safe in their own version of a “Noah’s ark”. Alyssa sighed heavily and the children looked at their father with notable apprehension, and yet the children were still able to conjure up half smiles, a show of support for their overly passionate father. It had been six months since the Flowers family moved to the Pastures of Heaven and their reputation had already begun to fade. Along with the weather, the townsfolk began to act colder towards the Flowers’. The children’s stories for their classmates had lost their novelty, and David and Abigail became known as the kids with the “recluse” father. The twins began to fight with each other for attention in the classroom , for they received so little at home. Alyssa had stopped baking pies for she was unable to afford the ingredients. She was then forced to do odd jobs outside the home like milking cows, taking care of other people’s children, and cleaning houses. The neighbors began to mock the family patriarch as a selfabsorbed hack who couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag.


At this point, Jacob was a mess. The man’s once well-groomed and handsome features had become gnarled and changed. Jacob now sported long un-kept hair, a thick beard, and vacant eyes. When Abigail and David entered their home only the echoing sound of his typewriter rang through the halls. The children would slowly ascend the stairs into the attic where their father spent the majority of his time. Inside was their father, hunched over a lone desk solely lit by the dim light that shone through a dormer window that faced outwards towards the street. Jacob relied on his kids to bring him meals everyday as he rarely made an appearance downstairs and even more rarely appeared outside the Flowers home. Both the kids begged their father to read to them from his book, but he promised to read it to them in its entirety once it was finished. Instead, Jacob would take a ten-minute break from typing and read to them a short passage of scripture, which he felt served an educational and enlightening purpose. Today Jacob read to them from the “Gospel of Mathew” and heavily emphasized Jesus’s trials in the wilderness, and how he managed to persevere. Unlike most children, David and Abigail were ecstatic to be read from the bible, as it was the only time they felt close to their ever increasingly distant father. One overcast winter morning Raymond Banks sat up in his bed, rubbed his eyes and headed for the bathroom. He then took a seat at his dining room table next to his wife who had already begun to boil some coffee. His wife kissed him on the cheek, said good morning, and handed him a mug. The pair began discussing the news of town and how many chickens he expected for this spring and other mundane things. Inevitably, the conversation flowed towards his friend Jacob and


his erratic behavior. Raymond’s wife urged him to go talk to Jacob and offer to help get him out of his all consuming obsession with perfection. Raymond didn’t like this idea. He assured his wife that it wasn’t his place to go getting into another man’s business. His wife took him by the hand and reminded him softly that they were good Christians and that it was their duty to do so. Raymond let out a sigh and chuckled to himself. He got up after about ten minutes, having just finishing his coffee. He then placed his hat on his head and looked down at his still seated wife, and told her that he loved her and that he always would. This particular day there was a cold wind and scattered showers that blanketed the Pastures of Heaven, which drove most people to stay indoors. This was of little concern for Jacob Flowers. Due to heavy rainstorms the children were at home in the living room sitting next to the fire watching the flames dance and shine over their now more rustic abode. Even Alyssa had taken the day off, for her neighbors had told her to return to work when the weather was better. It seemed as if the rough weather had brought the Flowers family together. What disturbed the peace was a knock at the front door. Alyssa set down her ball of yarn, a habit she had picked up recently as it brought in some extra income, and walked towards the front door. The door opened up and a rain soaked Raymond stood before her. Raymond politely asked if he could speak to Jacob as he felt he had something important to say. Alyssa brought him in quickly out of the elements and headed upstairs hoping to catch her husband in one of his better humors. Alyssa found Jacob napping contently over his typewriter just as he used to do back in San Francisco when he would stay up late reading stories to the children and then be


forced to play catch-up on his professional affairs. Suddenly Jacob’s head perked up and he looked at his wife with a fatigued and somewhat bemused look. Alyssa went up to her husband and told him that his friend Raymond was here to see him. This seemed to have stumped Jacob, as he wasn’t quite sure what to say. The two hadn’t seen much of each other since Jacob’s crusade towards biblical perfection. Jacob came down the stairs slowly, letting each step echo through his dreary home. The two men shook hands and sat down at the kitchen table as Alyssa took the children into the family room. Raymond had a hard time recognizing the man who sat across from him; it was as if he had aged ten years. The two men discussed casual things, slowly easing into the elephant in the room that was Jacob’s obsession. Raymond asked Jacob how his work was coming along, and Jacob responded optimistically, but with some strain. Jacob explained that he had been working so hard as to not bring shame onto his family and that he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he didn’t produce the best work he was capable of. Raymond slightly turned towards the window and watched the dark clouds continue to roll across the sky. Raymond then mentioned that perhaps he could scale back his writing or take a break and spend more time with his family who surely missed him. Jacob sighed, and told Raymond that like Alyssa, he just didn’t understand. Ten years later, one bright spring afternoon a tan automobile drove up to the Flowers family home. The bright paint had become a faded brown, and the house looked as if it had weathered many a harsh storm. A woman got out of the car, took a deep breath and knocked on the front door. She waited about twenty seconds and then the door slowly opened and revealed her father. Jacob looked beaten, but not


entirely broken. The beautiful woman that stood before him visibly surprised Jacob. Abigail asked if she could come in and Jacob offered instead that they take a walk in the garden behind the house. While walking past mostly dead plants and weeds Abigail filled her father in on all that he had missed: their mother had remarried to a businessman and David had become an advertising copywriter. Jacob was solemn, but satisfied to know that his family had gotten along without him. Before Abigail had the chance to say anything else, Jacob began apologizing for everything he had done. Abigail then stopped him, and went to her car and returned with a book. The book was titled: “Here Today, Essays on the Subjects of: Art, Love, and the Pursuit of the Unobtainable� by Abigail Flowers. She then kissed her father on the cheek, made her way back towards the car, got in, and slowly drove away back towards San Francisco.


A New Chapter of Heaven