Good decisions

Melissa Ann Howell Schier
6 min readApr 12, 2024

Filly was quiet. Really quiet. It was the kind of quiet a person was when they were caught mid step coming down the stairs by some salesman they did not want to see, who was peering through the glass front door, ringing the bell insistently and waiting for an answer.

She was so quiet she felt like she blended into the white rungs and the brown mahogany rail that was smooth and cool to her light touch, right foot on the lower step and left foot behind on the upper step, facing the bottom of the flight of stairs. The placement of her feet allowed her to consider going forwards, or backwards, depending on what she heard as her weight, evenly balanced, could quickly shift in either direction.

The placement of her feet, and her body position, mirrored her thought processes as she was quiet because she was thinking. She barely breathed because breathing was not quiet.
What was it he had said? She remembered but she repeated it in her head again. Frozen in time? Was it a concept or was it a reality.

She tossed her wavy hair behind her and shifted her weight and moved forward one more step down, and closer to the bottom of the stairs. She moved because she understood the process of analyzing something and making the best decision she could at that moment. It did not involve being static. She was fast, and her long legs which went practically all the way up to her chest were really strong, and she could have held that quiet position for much longer, yet she was not indecisive.

They were waiting for her to join them. People she called her friends but really she did not know them the way she knew her sisters or her cousins or her teachers or parents. Those were people she had years of relationships with. They were predictable, honest, trustworthy, sometimes annoying or unfair, or opportunistic but not dangerous or aggressive. They had her best interests at heart and would always be there for her.

She looked out of the opening of the oval window on top of the front door to her house and saw the car. She could see it clearly through the large shiny glass. It was rented. It was green. It was REALLY Green, like neon green and it was small and not a car most people would want to buy if they were looking to buy a new car. Maybe that was why it was rented, she decided. It was a car people drove when they had limited choices.

Limited choices.
That was not her at all. She could make any choice she wanted. She could step forward again, and she would be stepping in the light of the front door glass, down almost to the bottom of the stairs, almost to the door. She would be visible from the outside, where the spring air was full of pollen and warm breezes. She could pretend she was one of them, and go along, even though she was not sure of who they really were. It could be exciting. It would definitely be novel. It might be fun.

But if she moved forward, she would be making a choice she realized. By joining them, she would be one of them. Whether she agreed or not, she would be “on board”. She froze again, now the left foot was on the lower step and the right foot was behind her on the higher step. She was perfectly balanced. Even keeled and weight distributed, light on her feet. She could go either way. She was free to do either. But which way would improve her life, make her a better person, help her grow happier and more independent.

In her minds eye she could picture the safety of the laundry room, just around the corner and to the right. IF she had been standing in that room, instead of where she was, no one would have had any way to see her. She could have avoided making a decision.

There was a curtain on THAT window out of crisp white cotton, with embroidered scallops and it was completely closed, only letting through the bright gleam of light behind it. Her dad’s picture was in that room. He was waving, smiling, happy. What would her dad do, she wondered…what would her mom do?

As she continued to breathe almost imperceptibly on the stair, she thought about where she stood. Where did she stand on the decisions her “friends” were making? Did she agree with them? Or did she disagree? Did she like the friends enough to ignore some of the things they were doing? Was ignoring the same as “giving permission”?

She realized her dad never did anything, not even once in his whole life, that made her feel like joining him, would put her in a compromising or difficult situation. Her dad always took the high road. He always did the right thing. Her mom did too. And choosing to be like them was a compelling argument. Because her parents were happy, cheerful, confident, warm and accepting. They were successful. They were this way because they felt good about their choices.

She talked about this to her dad at times. She knew he felt good about himself because he did not compromise with people who were friends, even if he liked them, because he kept himself clean, and separate from anything bad. He was honorable. He had talked about how to avoid bad choices. She had listened.

She shifted her weight back and sat down on the stairs in one quick move. She had decided. She would not compromise herself. She would not be part of “the crowd” She would not go along with them. She was glad the door was locked so they could not get in without her opening the door.

She saw her friend Jack, who must be getting tired of waiting for her, get out of the drivers side. He left the neon green door open and came to the door. The front seat beside him was empty, and he had probably saved the space for her, and the other two friends were in the back seat talking animatedly, from what she could see. Jack was strong, he was huge and he was imposing.

As he approached he peered through the glass and saw her sitting on the stairs. He could see she was ready to go, but he could also see that she was not moving. Frozen in time actually. Like he had said. Because, he realized, she did not want to go. Because she had decided.

He looked up at her, his eyes questioning, disappointed, almost pleading, but not surprised. He was fun, smart and amazing in a lot of ways that friends are. But he was not her dad.

Her dad always told her to aim high…never be associated with someone or something that takes away integrity. It had to be a conscious choice. Choices did not happen by accident. She was not a victim and she could choose any good thing to do and there were many GOOD things to choose from, or she could choose to go along with what she knew was wrong and pretend she did not see.

But that was not what she was going to do because she was like her dad. She was like her mom too. So she sat, and watched Jack stop, when he saw her sitting, and then turn around, and slowly walk away. She was glad he did not ring the doorbell. He did not try to change her mind.

Maybe he was making good choices for himself as well she thought. She would not know. She hoped so. She really did. But their paths were diverging not converging, necessarily. She let the air she had been holding out in a huge breath, a relief from her shallow breathing. Her mind was clear, and her good choice she realized, allowed her to remain free.

She loved free. It was why she pretended to be a horse when she was younger, when her dad would shake her braids like they were reins and call her his little filly. Her friends back then would pretend with her, and they would gallop around the playground at recess, like the wild horses of Chincoteague. She had a great imagination back then and she still did.

It was how she got the nickname. She smiled. She watched Jack get back into the neon green car and slam the door shut. He turned around in his seat and looked towards her house. He did not wave. By not acknowledging her in front of the others, he gave her the privacy she needed and deserved. But she was not looking anymore. She was going back up the stairs, two at a time. Her phone rang.



Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.