Noah & Asella
Vol. 1 Installment 2: Farm Fun Compromises
Estelle tilted her head and looked at her pumpkin. She then stood up from the floor and looked down at Asella and Noah who were still on the floor carving their pumpkins.
“What do you think?” Asella asked turning around, looking up at her little sister.
“They’re um…” Estelle’s voice trailed off; she quickly averted her eyes away from her sister. She walked back over to her spot and plopped back on the floor. “They don’t look the best. But that’s only because you two aren’t that artistic. Plus, you carve the same type of pumpkins every year.”
“Thanks for letting us off light” Noah said chuckling. “And by the way I do not make the same pumpkin carving every year. That’s what Asella does.”
“Hey there, it’s called tradition” Asella said folding her arms and turning her head away from Noah.
Estelle pulled out her phone and showed Noah all the previous pumpkins they had all made. “See, every year you carve a Latin phrase on the back of all your pumpkins.”
“Well the front is still different every year” Noah protested.
“It’s always an old historical figure.” Estelle said.
Asella laughed. She was delighted to hear that Noah wasn’t too much better than her in the creativity department.
“You’re one to laugh” Noah said raising his eyebrows at his wife. “Tomorrow when we go to the fall festival I can guarantee that we will be doing the same activities in the same order we do them every year.”
“And you will complain about the fall festival map every second you get” Asella snapped back.
Estelle giggled. “That’s so true! Noah grumbles every year about the map.”
“Yep, and he never does anything about it.” Asella said.
“Well if they did it right I wouldn’t have to complain.” Noah countered. “And you know what” Noah said getting up from the floor, “I am going to do something about it this year. I’m going to tell the farmer that his map is wrong.”
“So, this is what happens when you marry a cartographer?” Estelle joked.
“Pretty much,” Asella smiled getting up from the floor to hug her husband.
“Just so you know, I love your pumpkin and our fall festival traditions” Noah whispered to Asella as he gave her a kiss on the forehead.
“Welp, I guess it’s time for me to head out,” Estelle said making a face at Noah and Asella.
“Alright Estelle, we will see you tomorrow for the pumpkin contest. Text me when you get home, so I know you made it back safely” Asella said walking her sister out to her car.
Estelle rolled her eyes. “Mom’s house is literally five minutes away.”
“Just do it” Asella said giving her sister a hug.
After watching her little sister drive off, Asella immediately texted her mom that Estelle was on her way home. “I can’t believe she is 16 now. It’s so crazy.” Asella bemoaned to her husband.
Noah lovingly consoled his wife with a warm embrace.
The next day Asella woke up excited for the fall festival. Although she knew which activities they were going to do, and in what order, she still wrote out a checklist and shoved it into her purse. She then began to make her signature homemade pumpkin pancakes with eggs and bacon. Meanwhile, Noah was putting his measuring tape, tablet, and laser distance meter into his dark navy-blue tote. He then put his tote into the back of their car while Asella was preoccupied stirring the pumpkin batter. After he finished, he followed the strong scent of cinnamon and nutmeg, and went over to help Asella finish up breakfast.
Noah and Asella were several feet from the entrance to the farm when Asella realized Noah was carrying his navy-blue tote. “Why did you bring your laptop bag” Asella asked, confused.
“Remember how I said this year would be different, and I would tell the farmer his map was wrong?”
“Yes?” Asella said in a questioning tone.
“Well I decided it would be best if I fixed the farmers map for him… So, I brought some equipment…
Asella stopped walking. She immediately felt upset that Noah didn’t tell her his plans earlier since he knew she had a hard time adjusting to last minute changes. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” she asked, looking up intently at her husband.
“I’m sorry, love. I just got so wrapped up in fixing the map that I completely forgot to tell you. It really was an accident.”
Asella didn’t want to get into conflict before the fall festival. She loved going to the farm with Noah, so she took a deep breath and said, “As long as we still get to have our usual fun, it’s fine with me.”
Noah was relieved to see that Asella was still smiling and in a good mood. They held hands the rest of the way and showed their festival passes to the greeter, who gave them two maps.
The map had twenty-four fall stations numbered and labeled, with the distance between the current station written on the path to the second station. Station 1 was displayed as being 8ft away from station 2, and station 2 was said to be 10 ft. from station 3.
Asella grabbed her black marker from her bag and circled eight of the fall festival stations. “Okay, so station 3 is the petting zoo, station 5 is the zipline, 7 is the corn maze, 8 is face painting, 12 is the hay ride, 18 is the pumpkin carving contest at 3:00 p.m. with Estelle, and station 19 is food and bathroom.”
“I can already tell these measurements are way off. Also, look at how poorly the graphical proportions are.”
“Did you listen to anything I just said?”
“Kind of” Noah said sheepishly. He put the map in his tote bag; he was determined not to let fixing the map interfere with spending quality time with his wife. However, as he began walking with Asella to the petting zoo he began automatically analyzing the other stations along the way and making mental notes of how far he thought each one was actually from one another. Noah had a strong urge to pull out his measuring tape or his laser distance meter. “No, you don’t need to measure the distance right now. You can do it later. Focus on the present.” Noah thought to himself.
By the time they made it to the petting zoo, Asella could tell that Noah was already distracted by the map. Although he hadn’t taken the map out to look at it, he also hadn’t talked to Asella the whole way to the petting zoo. This was very unusual for Noah. However, instead of getting upset, Asella decided to let it go and redirect his attention to the petting zoo. “Hey honey, look at the baby goats.”
“Aww, they are so cute! Here, I brought some quarters so we can feed them.”
The two of them went over to the red dispenser and put two quarters into the food dispenser and turned the silver knob. Asella took the brown crumbly goat food out and put it into her husband’s hands. She then put two more quarters into the food dispenser and turned the silver knob to get some goat food of her own. Asella didn’t really like the smell or the feel of the goat food. She also wasn’t too keen on feeding the goats herself, but she loved watching Noah pet every single goat in the pen and feed them. She also semi-enjoyed getting enough courage to feed a goat or two herself.
Once the goat food was gone, Noah pulled his laser distance meter out of his tote bag and measured the distance between the petting zoo and station 2. The device read 15ft. Noah’s eyes bulged in excitement. He waved his measuring device and yelled “I knew it! I knew the map was wrong!”
Asella noticed a family passing by and was immediately embarrassed. She wished she could yell out “Don’t worry! He’s just a passionate Cartographer” but she wasn’t quite that daring. Instead she attempted to remedy the situation by giving the family a reassuring smile, while simultaneously signaling to her husband to lower his voice.
“Oops. I forgot that there would be other people around. Let me get my measuring tape out to check my work and then we can go.”
“Please don’t use your measuring tape in public.” Asella begged. “I don’t want to draw attention to us. I just want to enjoy the fall festival.”
“I’ll only do it once. I just need to make sure that the laser measured correctly.”
“Fine” Asella groaned.
Noah measured as quickly as he could, so that he wouldn’t embarrass his wife.
“Still 15ft.” Noah said taking out his tablet”
Asella shook her head. “Don’t even think about it. There’s no time to start on the map now. Ziplining’s next.”
Noah conceded and took Asella’s hand. This time he made sure to talk to her as they walked to their next destination. As they were walking they reminisced about all the good times they had together over the last year. By the time they arrived at the zip line station, Asella and Noah were laughing hysterically. Noah took a deep breath, pulled 40 dollars out of his wallet and handed it to the zip line attendant. “For two, please” he said trying not to laugh. As the attendant was handing Noah the tickets, it dawned on him that they were at station five and that he only measured the distance between station 2 and 3. He still needed to measure the distance between stations 1 and 2, 3 and 4, as well as 4 and 5.
Noah sighed. “I forgot to measure the distance between the first couple of stations.”
“I thought you were just going to measure them afterwards?” Asella asked confused.
“Why would I do that? I should measure them now while we are closer to them.” Noah said.
“Are you forgetting the pumpkin contest at 3:00? We are meeting Estelle there. I want to make sure we get our normal activities in together before the contest” Asella said her voiced cracking. She was beginning to become agitated.
“We will still make it on time. Here, you can take both our tickets and go on the zip line twice, while I hurry and measure the distance between all the stations. I will be quick.”
“Fine” Asella grumbled.
“I’m not going to leave if you’re going to be upset” Noah said.
“I’m not upset. Just go” she said sternly.
Noah leaned down, kissed his wife, said “Please don’t be upset,” and then he left. He knew that if he stayed his wife would be upset either way.
Asella stayed in line. “I can be flexible. I really can” she said to herself as she moved up the stairs in the line. By the time she made it to the top her frustration was replaced with anticipation. The zip line was long and high up off the ground. Asella could see the top of all the trees and the mountains in the distance no longer seemed so far away. She took a deep breath as she strapped herself into her harness. Once it was on tight and snug the attendant came over and clipped her onto the zip line.
“Are you ready?” the attendant asked.
“Okay, then go on the count of three. One… Two… Three”
Asella pushed off, her heart racing, and her face freezing in the wind. She kept focus on her speed, and the tree tops passing quickly before her. The faster she went, the happier she felt. When the ride came to a halt, Asella could feel the adrenaline rush surging through her body. She took her harness off and headed back to the other side of the zip line to get into line again.
Her quick paced began to taper off by the time she was half way back. “If Noah just came with me, I wouldn’t have to walk back to the other side of the zip line.” Asella thought to herself. “It’s like he doesn’t realize how far the end of the zip line is from the front of the zip line.”
When Asella made it back to the front of the zip line, she pulled out her phone to look at the clock. Her eyes widened- it had taken her fifteen minutes to get back in line and Noah was nowhere to be seen. She couldn’t believe it. Asella immediately called Noah.
“Where have you been? It’s been over 40 minutes! I waited in line by myself for 20 minutes, ziplined for about three minutes, and then had to walk all the way back to the front of the line. And that took 15 minutes!” Asella said fuming.
“I’m almost done… Just a couple more seconds… Okay, I see you now.” Noah said.
Asella turned around until she saw Noah. Once she saw him she stood still. She didn’t walk towards him. She let him come to her. Timeliness was something Asella took very seriously. Up until that moment, she believed Noah took it seriously as well. She didn’t want to be late for the pumpkin carving contest with her sister.
When Noah’s eyes met Asella’s, he knew she was furious with him. He could feel her glare with every step he took. “I’m sorry it took me so long. But it looks like you wouldn’t have made it here much sooner…”
“No, don’t say that”
“Say what?” Noah asked confused.
“If you weren’t so preoccupied with fixing the map you would have realized it was a bad idea to ask me to go on the ride twice. You could have told me to stay where I was and wait for you. Instead, I had to walk all the way from the end of the zip line back to the front. And now I need to walk right back to where I came from because I am not going to wait in line again!” Asella seethed.
Noah retaliated “Well if it was such a bad idea you should have told me. Since I can’t do anything right I might as well just not finish this map”
“I’m not going to be guilt-tripped here. Finish your map. I’m going to do the rest of the stations by myself. It’s clear we can’t get both done on time together. So, let’s divide and conquer. I will complete the stations I want to do, and you can finish fixing your map. Just don’t forget to meet me for the pumpkin contest with Estelle at 3:00. Since you’re late for things now, I won’t expect you to show up on time”
Noah was so insulted by Asella’s spiteful quips that he agreed. “Alright,” Noah said, his voice hardening “I will see you at 3:00”
Asella turned around and began walking towards the corn maze. Tears began to well in her eyes. This was the first time her and Noah ever left each other while upset. A part of Asella wanted to run back to her husband and apologize, but her pride wouldn’t let her, so she continued on.
Noah’s heart began to sink as he watched his wife walking away from him. He thought to himself “I really should be with her. But this is the one thing I want to do. I don’t want to be the guy that complains about the map every year. I want to be the guy who takes actions and fixes it.” Noah took out his laser and his measuring tape and began measuring the distance between station four and the zip line. Once he determined the measurements, he got out his tablet and put them into his data chart, and then began working on making a zip line graphic that was proportional in size and distance.
By the time Asella made it to the corn maze, she was sick of seeing happy couples holding hands. She was also determined to make it out of the corn maze all by herself. Asella walked into the corn maze with confidence, purposefully ignoring the fact that she was terrible with directions. She went straight ahead until the corn maze made her go right. Once she went right she went straight ahead again, only to be faced with going right or going left. “Left or right, left or right” she whispered out loud. She chose to go left since her first turn was a right. After a couple more turns she found herself at a dead end. “Okay, this is obviously the wrong way” Asella thought. She turned around and took two rights to get away from the dead end, only to wind up at a dead end. Asella groaned to herself “Is this the same dead end, or a different dead end? It must be a different dead end.” She turned around and this time and made a left and a right. “Yes, I’m out!” Asella said seeing that there was a path straight ahead. She followed the path only to be led to another dead end. “That’s it” Asella thought “I’m staying here until someone comes, and then I’m going to follow them.”
Noah had just finished measuring the distance between the zip line and station five, and was putting the data into his tablet, when a little boy around the age of six or seven came up to him. “What are you doing?” the little boy asked tilting his head and pointing at the measuring tape and laser on the floor.
Noah looked up and saw the little boy’s parents only a couple feet away from their son smiling awkwardly. It was clear that the boy had convinced his parents to let him ask his question. “Oh, me? I just finished measuring the distance between the zip line and this station” Noah said looking up at the super slide.
“Why?” the little boy asked.
“Well, you see, the map is wrong every year, so this year I’m fixing it. I use the laser distance meter to measure the distance between two objects, and then I use the measuring tape to confirm”
“Can I try?” the little boy asked.
“Sure, as long as your parents don’t mind”
The boy’s parents didn’t mind, and were actually happy to watch Noah teach their son how to use the laser distance meter, as well as the measuring tape.
“Thank you so much for teaching him. I even learned a thing or two” the dad said chuckling.
“No problem” Noah said. “It was actually a lot of fun.”
The mom hesitated, but then she said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but do you mind taking a picture of us three in front of the super slide. It’s our tradition to race down it every year, and…”
“It’s the BEST tradition ever!” the little boy blurted out.
The mother let out a chuckle. “And it would be nice to have a photo as a memory” she said smiling.
The word tradition struck out at Noah. He instantly regretted not being by his wife’s side. Noah kept a cheerful face as he took a couple of pictures for the family, but inside he felt immeasurable guilt. When he finished taking the photos he looked up past the super slide and saw the corn maze. His stomach started turning. He knew his wife was probably lost. He had never met someone as bad at directions as his wife. “What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t have let her go alone.” Noah couldn’t believe that he had put fixing the map over spending quality time with his wife. He loved his wife and the traditions they had.
While Noah was embracing his revelation, Asella was on the verge of having hers. Two teenagers holding hands came up to the same dead end Asella was staying in. “Oh, great” she thought, Of course, I’m stuck following a couple. And worst of all a teenage couple.”
Asella reluctantly started to follow the teenage couple at a distance. She prepared herself to hear immature conversation or overt displays of inappropriate affection, but she didn’t hear or see any of it. Instead, she heard the teenage girl ask her boyfriend what he wanted to do next. The boyfriend replied that he would do whatever she wanted to do.
“No, that’s not fair. Let’s take turns.” the girl insisted. “I wanted to go to the corn maze, so it’s your turn to pick what you want to do next.”
The boy smiled down at his girlfriend and said, “Okay, I really want to go on the super slide next.
“Aww, that’s going to be so much fun!” the girlfriend exclaimed.
In that moment, Asella knew that she had been selfish. She hadn’t been willing to take turns. She wanted to do what she wanted to do. Asella didn’t want to have to wait for her husband to take measurements in between stations. Asella realized how unfair she had been and thought “Instead of rushing Noah in between stations, I should have taken turns and given him an hour measure after each one.” Asella stopped where she was, and covered her head with her hands. “What’s wrong with me” she whispered aloud. “I’m 29 years old, and I needed a reminder to take turns with my husband.”
“Everyone needs reminders sometimes”
Asella looked up and saw her husband.
Noah smiled down lovingly at his wife and said, “If it makes you feel any better, I’m 38 years old, and I needed a reminder to put spending quality time with my wife over fixing a map. I really should have been more present today. I can’t believe I put a map before you, and, a festival map at that. No one even cares about the accuracy of these kinds of maps.”
“Well you care, and that’s what matters” Asella said taking Noah by the hand. “Once we get out of this corn maze, we can work on your map together for an hour. After that we will go straight to the pumpkin carving contest with Estelle.”
“What about face painting and the hay ride” Noah asked, shocked.
“We can do them after. Besides, sometimes you need to make small sacrifices for the ones you love.”
Noah was amazed. “No, let’s keep our tradition. Let’s get our faces painted and then go on the hayride. Fixing the map can wait until after the pumpkin carving contest. Our tradition should come first.”
Asella shook her head. “Our tradition is still here. We are still doing all the same things, just in a different order. And that’s okay.”
“You’re literally the best wife ever” Noah said pulling his wife in for a kiss.
After the two reconciled, Noah quickly navigated them both out of the corn maze. Asella was relieved. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could endure running into dead ends. Once they were out, Asella got over her embarrassment and helped Noah measure. They accomplished far more together than they did apart. By the time the hour was up, most of the stations were measured.
As they walked past the hayride to go to the pumpkin carving contest, a sense of peace fell over Asella. She wasn’t anxious by the change of plans, rather she felt happy and free, just as she had going down the zip line.
When they made it to the pumpkin carving contest, Estelle was surprised to see that Noah and Asella didn’t have their face painted. “You two didn’t get your face painted?” Estelle asked.
“Nope. We’re going to do it later. We had a slight change of plans.” Asella replied.
“You two better tell me what’s going on after they announce the winner” Estelle demanded.
Noah nodded his head.
“The winner in 3rd place is…Andrew Thomas. The winner in 2nd place is… Estelle Ribera. Last, but not least, the winner in 1st place is…” The announcer paused a bit longer for effect and then boomed, “Noah Le Claire.”
Noah turned to Estelle and teased, “See, that’s why I stick to my traditional pumpkin style.” He then winked at his wife.
“Oh, shush” Estelle said, getting up to receive her reward.
Noah went up and followed her.
After the ceremony, they told Estelle what happened, and Estelle was more than willing to help. She said she would do almost anything not to hear Noah complain about the map for another year. The three of them got their faces painted, finished finding measurements for the map, and then went on the hay ride. When the hay ride was over, they found the farmer, and Noah showed him the map.
The farmer looked at Noah’s tablet for a while and then said, “Wow, you did all of this to fix my map. My son’s been wanting me to fix it for years. I guess it’s time for me to update this old thing”
Asella couldn’t believe how easy it was to get the farmer to change his map. Noah couldn’t believe the farmer knew his map was wrong for years, and still handed them out. The two looked at each other and then let out a laugh. It had been one crazy day, but it turned out wonderful.