One bright and sunny morning, Should and Supposed-to were walking the rocky stretch from the outskirts of town to the city center. The morning sun was just creeping over the hilltops, and the dew was still fresh on the summer grasses.
As the friends walked, Should let out a long, vocal yawn. Supposed-to turned to his friend, concerned.
"My friend," he said, "you seem tired. Did you get enough sleep last night?"
Should rubbed his eyes and pinched the thin spot between them, at the top of his nose.
"I slept only a few hours last night," he replied. "My horse stalls needed cleaning, and I knew I Should take care of that before turning in. When my alarm sounded this morning, I thought perhaps I could sleep another hour or so, but I knew I Should rise and do my morning exercises, so I did."
Supposed-to nodded for he understood Should's position. He too had gotten little sleep as he had repainted his barn door by moonlight as he was Supposed-to. He stifled a yawn of his own.
The two friends quickened their pace so that they could arrive at the city center by noon as they were Supposed-to,. Their afternoon scheduled left little room for dilly-dallying. About half an hour into their journey, the friends passed a clear, blue pond by the side of the road. The water looked refreshing, and there were young people and children diving in and splashing about, clothes and all. The day had grown warm, and Should looked longingly at the water.
He turned to look at Supposed-to, whose eyes were fixed firmly on the road ahead.
"Could we?" he asked.
Supposed-to glanced sternly in his direction.
"Most certainly not, Should. After all, we are not Supposed-to jump into water, however clear it maybe be, with our clothing on. We'll catch our death from the dampness, and we'll certainly be late in arriving at the city center."
Should nodded. He understood the point Supposed-to was making. They most certainly Should Not visit the pond. There would be other days for swimming, when proper arrangements could be made.
An hour or so later, the friends came upon a fruit stand where men and women were selecting items from a variety of bins. There were apples, grapes, bananas, papyas, pears, plums and the most delicious looking peaches Supposed-to had ever seen! The men and women were taking big bites of their purchases just after paying for them. Their delight was clear upon their faces. Supposed-to looked at Should who shook his head with reproach.
"No, Supposed-to," he said, understanding his friend's intention from the look on his face, "we most certainly Should Not taste fruit directly out of the bins as these people are doing. We will undoubtedly end up with a stomach bug or parasite. One Should Never taste fruit without first properly washing it, no matter how reliable the vendor, or how clean the fruit appears. We Should press on."
Supposed-to was saddened but shook his head in agreement, nonetheless.
Another hour passed and the friends encountered a field full of wildflowers of all shapes and colors. Townsfolk danced amongst the flowers, gathering together rainbow bouquets, singing to themselves all the while. Should was drawn to the field, and found himself unconsciously drifting in that direction. He was stopped by Supposed-to's arm which extended out in front of him, holding him to his course. Supposed-to shook his head.
"No, my friend," he said, "we are not supposed to pick wildflowers. They could be poisonous to our skin, causing us to itch. Also, we do not know to whom this field belongs. Perhaps we would be run off the property by an angry farmer or a dog turned-loose to chase us away. No, Should....we Should Not visit that field of wildflowers today."
Should was saddened, but nodded his agreement, and the friends pressed on. They arrived in the city center promptly at noon as they had planned. They purchased only the items they had planned to purchase, dined where they had previously decided to dine, and left the center promptly at 3 p.m. for their return trip to the outskirts of town.
About twenty minutes into their return trip, a small band of dark clouds blew over the friends' path. A heavy rain shower took them by surprise, and they dashed under a tree to seek shelter. Just beyond the tree was the field full of flowers, now being beaten down by the strong storm.
"If we were to be drenched anyway, I would have like to have taken a dip in that clear, blue pond we passed," thought Should. He drew his wet shirt closer around him for warmth. The storm did not let up for some time, and Supposed-to felt his stomach begin to rumble.
"If we were to be delayed for such a time as this, I would surely have liked to have had some of that delightful fruit to snack on. Or perhaps I would not be hungry now if I had tasted some earlier." He rubbed his stomach, willing the ache to subside.
When the storm let up, the friends took to the road once again. When they arrived at their respective homes, they were both exhausted and chilled through. Should looked out at his garden which he knew he Should set about pruning, but his muscles ached, and his head felt feverish. Supposed-to visited his cows which he was Supposed-to milk that evening, but his stomach was feeling quite rumbly, and his eyes were crossing from fatigue.
Still, Should and Supposed-to took care of their chores. They were certainly not going to put off the responsibilities they were Supposed-to perform, nor Should they rest when there was work to be done.
When the light had faded, Should and Supposed-to retired to their beds. The next morning's sun greeted two very ill individuals. Should woke with a terrible cold, and Supposed-to was taken with a terrible case of food-poisoning, contracted from the dining establishment he had visited the day before.
Both friends looked out at the sparkling new day wishing for a second chance at the previous day's events.
Perhaps, if we had taken an hour to go for a swim, our clothes would have dried over the course of the sunny morning, and we would have delayed in the city center long enough to miss the rainstorm. Or, perhaps if we had stopped for some fruit, we might have ordered differently at the restaurant, and one of us might not have ended up with tummy trouble. Or, perhaps if we had taken a moment to pick wildflowers, we might at least have lovely bouquets to comfort us in or beds as we convalesce. And, had we taken ourselves straight into hot showers and early bedtimes instead of performing chores which could have waited until today, we might not feel quite so terrible this morning.
Should and Supposed-to learned that morning that often, Should and Supposed-to lead to Must and Must Not...if one is very ill, one Must certainly remain in bed. One Must Not visit one's friends. One Must not take on difficult chores.
Perhaps now and again Should and Supposed-to might be better replaced with Can, Will and Want to. After all, if the result Might be the same anyway, one Might As Well take a dip, have some fruit and pick some flowers from time to time. We Should all shirk Should and Supposed-to once in a while, Should we not?