Chopping Wood



Scene Title Chopping Wood
Synopsis Ryans decides to cool off with an old fashion therapy method.
Date November 6, 2011

Somewhere outside Jade City, British Columbia, Canada


This was not like him. He, Benjamin Allen Ryans, does not… ‘lose his shit’. Period.

In all of his years, faced with so many bad things and so many insane situations, he rarely lost control of his emotions like that. It was often something that shook him — surprised him — to crack the mask that he wears every. damn. day.

And boy, had he been shocked. When he saw Nicole walk down those stairs it had shaken him to his core. All of that was without him even knowing that she had faked her suicide. Clearly, that was a good thing.


It had been Hollis’ orders that finally got him to stormed out of the safehouse; Ryans knew that her and Brian were right. To continue would have meant more yelling and less thinking, with some hurt feelings added in. So without any other word, he left. Simply walked out the door, without a look back. Outside, he had quickly shrugged off the well-meaning Brians, with a hand raised to ward him — them off. An offered roll of gauze was snatched from the hands of another Brian, without even a thank you. He’d apologize to the young man later. For now, he needed to be alone. He needed to think.

He needed to process.

He needed an out for what he was feeling.

More importantly, he needed time to himself.


The rhythmic swing of the axe is aborted — paused — when the log in front of him falls apart and lands in the snow. He stares at it, but not really. White plumes of breath hang briefly in the air before him, dissipate, only to be replaced by another. Only resting for moment, to catch his breath, before he adds a new log; perched carefully on its end.

This was the best way he knew to refocus his thoughts… his emotions. Most people meditate or seek a counselor; Ryans chops wood. When he father had been around, this had been his answer for the hell raising child that he barely ever saw. Markus would snag his wayward oldest, drag his ass outside, and hand him an axe. Now that Ben was older he understood what he father was doing. There was a reasoning and a method. He could appreciate it now.


Unfortunately, his mother’s solution had been to sign the papers that would eventually land him in the jungles of Vietnam, fighting for his life, at the young age of 16. An age when most kids today were worrying about the opposite sex, selfies, and school.


The axe blade is swung up again, but hesitates at the top. The length of the axe handle was smeared with a light coating blood — despite the hastily made bandage — from the cuts; that are thankfully not too bad. His hands do not slide well along the handle, because of this, making each swing sting. Clearly doesn't care. Right now he can only think of one thing.




The ax doesn’t bury into the chunk of firewood, when it falls. Instead, it comes down and swings at his side listlessly. His uninjured — thankfully not his shooting — hand rubs over his face, trying to scrub away whatever it is he is feeling. It still bubbles there under the surface. It was annoying for a man that prides himself on control.

Had he been away from her that long? How had he not noticed before, that he was going to be a father….. again. Shouldn’t he have seen the signs?

Physically, Benjamin was the same age he had been when Lucille was born, he can still remember looking at her tiny face for the first time; however, mentally…. He was well beyond babies and diapers.


He use to warn his girls about being stupid. That is only takes once to change their lives forever.

Well look who didn't take his own damn advice.

'Look who's stupid now, dad.'

That one little mocking thought, created by his own imagination, and echoed by two distinct female voices; it gets a growl of sound from somewhere deep in the Ryans clan patriarch’s chest. The axe comes up in an wide arch with enough force….


Wood splits and the axe is sunk into the stump, sticking there. Deep down, Ryans knows he has lost the battle even before it begins; but…. but he should talk to her. At least… try to talk some sort of sense into her.

Right. He sighs heavily, letting go… Sliding his hand off the axe, it leaves a fresh smear of blood. Good luck with that, Ben. It was Mary all over again. Stubborn women. Both of them.

Turning to face the safe house, Ryans is finally — finally feeling more like himself. Barely.

Futures were written and rewritten all the time, but this was not the change he would have wanted to make. This was not a world for a baby. Any baby. Even though what they were doing was important, and had the potential of making the world better…. I was dangerous. Having Nicole show up, threw a wrench in carefully made plans. The fact that she would probably not give up on saving her sister, complicated it even further.

He couldn’t stay quiet forever, he had to talk to her.

“I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Previously in this storyline…
Oregon's Nice

Next in this storyline…
Giving Off Sparks

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