George squeezed Carol’s hand and smiled. “Just look at all of these people”, Carol said, looking at her husband with amazement. “Why, there must be someone from every country in this line. I can’t believe so many people visit Japan in one day”, she went on. They were finally here, waiting in the custom’s line to enter Japan. They had been married fifty years today and this was their anniversary gift to each other.
The line moved slowly. They couldn’t see the clerk at the front of the line, but they could see that people would finish at the desk and then go through a door at the front while others came dejectedly back walking past the line. Watching one very obviously upset man walking back past them, Carol said to George “I could have sworn that poor man had tears in his eyes”. “Well, if I had to go back though this line again, like he will, I’d probably have tears in my eyes too”, George replied.
“My, what a week it’s been getting ready for this trip”, Carol said. Her mind was off and running on her to-do list again. “And there so much to do when we get back”, Carol added, her eyes lighting up with joy.
George smiled at his sweet wife. She was always doing more than any human he knew. When they had first married, he would gently fuss at her about it, telling her that she tried to do too much. It had been of no use. George knew that the care taking of others was just part of who she was and that was probably what kept her mind and heart so young and precious.
It was finally their turn. George handed their documentation to the clerk who never looked up. As he began looking at each paper he read aloud and shook his head no at each. “Certificate of Good Works”, “Seventy years of Nearly Perfect Church Attendance”, “Honored Sunday School Teachers”, on he went, reading and shaking his head no after each certificate.
Carol’s mind reeled. What on earth was he reading? That was not what she had put in the envelope. There was their birth certificates, social security cards, proof of address and she had even placed their voter registration cards in the envelope for good measure.
The clerk finally asked. “Do you have anything else?” Carol suddenly remembered their passports. She fumbled in her purse, her shaking hand finally finding the soft leather cover. Pulling them out, she handed them to the clerk. Surely the passports would get them into the country.
The clerk asked, “Do you have anything to declare”. Carol and George answered in unison “no”.
After what seemed like an eternity, the clerk finally looked up. Carol and George stood frozen staring back at the face before them. Carol stammered, in a voice barely more than a whisper. “It’s you!” “Jesus, it’s really you”. Her mind was whirling now, could it be? They had always prayed that they would go together. Come to think of it, Carol realized that she did not remember the flight to Japan at all.
The last thing she remembered was lying in bed beside her beloved husband after they had said their prayers. She had laid there thinking about the wonderful trip ahead of them. “It can’t be.” Carol turned to her husband, “Time surely didn’t run out, did it George?” she asked him. “But I have so much to do yet. There’s the quilt to finish for the church bizarre, and…“ Carol’s voice trailed off.
“Oh my”, Carol said as she looked in Jesus’ eyes “It wasn’t enough, I didn’t do enough did I?” “No”, he replied, his voice so soft. “But then you always knew you never could, didn’t you Carol?” “Yes” she replied, tears filling her eyes. Carol turned to look at George, prepared to walk away when she abruptly turned back to Jesus. Finding her voice she said “But You did enough, Jesus”. George chimed in, “that’s right”, he said, “and You promised”. Jesus’ eyes filled with tears and he smiled. “Oh there, you see”, Jesus said, “I knew all along you had something to declare”. “Welcome home my children”.
George took Carol’s hand, smiling, as he had for more than fifty years and walked through the door.
Marie, Well done for putting this out there! I really enjoyed your creativity, and especially as Yeggy said the suspense you created with her confusion. I'm a beginner too (only 4 weeks here so far) so can I share with you that there are some great tips on the "Writing Tips" message board, I got a lot out of 'Short Tips to make your writing better. I hope you enjoy this place as much as I do!
Marie, this was such a sweet message. I liked the ending very much. I also want to give you a huge pat on the back for taking the big step of entering the Challenge in the first place, and then, when the entry didn't make it, being brave and posting it here. Good on you. I would really love to give you a bit of help to tweak it a little. If you would like some help, please let me know - just send me a Private Message. If you don't know how to do that from here, just click on my name with this comment and it will take you to my member page. From there, just click on the Private Message link. Hope to hear from you. Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator and FW Magazine Editor)
This is delightful, Marie. I particularly like the confusion on the part of the wife: 'That was not what she had put in the envelope...' You kept me in suspense until the end, a rare talent, and then you didn't overdo the message part. One thing to think about in such a short article is to pick a character and write from that character's point of view - rather than swapping. Makes it easier for the reader. A bit of a fun challenge for the writer. Am really looking forward to reading your Retreat article. Well done. Yeggy