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TITLE: Good Company February 19, 2014
By Margo McKenzie

I've even receiving only positive critiques on Weekly Challenges, but I never advance to the next level. Please let me know what I do well and what I need to work on to dramatically improve my writing. Thanks.
After this, not one piece of evidence of the marriage would be left. All that would remain would be mental images that only time could erase.
“Katie, you look stunning. Now be sure to get that picture.” Katie’s mom would not let up. Roger, a professional photographer, had done weddings for over a decade. Eight hours of click, click, click; two hours of tweaking; three sets of pictures. $3500. Not bad for a high school graduate.
To Katie, it seemed like she waited forever for this day. All of her friends had gotten married already and had begun to have children. Then she met Colin. They became friends and fell in love. Katie had gone to school to become a nurse and Colin had gone to school to become a graphic designer. The rewards of hard work and patience had paid off. God had blessed them with each other. Then Colin learned that his school had made a mistake: it had conferred a degree that he had not really earned. “He couldn't bare to reveal the truth. Secretly, he enrolled in school and maintained nine to five work hours to cover up.
When it was time for Katie to attend his graduation, he told her that he had to work that day. Katie insisted they celebrate the following Saturday and reserved dinner for two at Tavern on the Green. The view of a swan-filled lake and verdant trees was spectacular. Katie never noticed Colin’s unease that evening. So wrapped up in the food and the ambiance, she missed the shallowness in his eyes and beads of perspiration on his forehead.
“Colin, is that you? “ At first, he wanted to shake his head no, but his wife looked at him, and he answered with an anemic, “Oh, hi.”
“Hi and I’m Katie, his wife. I’m learning that sometimes he has bad manners.”
“Oh don’t worry. I was sitting over there and saw a familiar face. But glad to see you, man! Wasn't that a horrible thing to happen to us? First they make us think we’re graduating, and the next thing you know they are putting our dreams on hold. Six months from now I’ll have a real celebration. What about you?
“Uh, uh, yeah, I did.”
Maybe I’ll see you again at graduation. Glad to meet you, Mrs Maynard. Glad to see you, Colin.
Just as quickly as Sam appeared, he disappeared, leaving a big mess behind.
“Colin, what is he talking about?”
‘I wanted to tell you, but I just couldn't, and it would only be six months, and I’ll be finished for real.”
“So you pretended going to work every day? You lived this life of deceit for three months? Why didn't you just tell me the truth?”
“I wanted to. . .”
“You wanted to? You promised to! Didn't those wedding vows mean anything? How can I trust you? You lied to me every day of our lives together.
“What difference does it make? I’m still the same person.”
Yes, the same person that pretended. The same person who didn't have the courage to speak truth. That was such a cowardly thing to do.”
“Cowardly? I’m a coward now? Forget it.” He removed his handkerchief from his lap. Placed it on his plate. Stood up and left her sitting there. That was two years ago. With shaken hands and tear-filled eyes, she barely managed to read the bill, retrieve money from her purse and pay. She didn’t stay around for her change.
“Hi Katie, I’m calling to let you know that I coming to pick up my things.” That was it. In the presence of beloved witnesses, she had given him the most valuable thing that she possessed, and it was rejected.
How could she ever bounce back? At twenty-one years old, she had reached a deadend.
She used a lighter to eradicate the lie and a tin can to catch the ashes.
The very last picture--the cross—at the wedding, they had lifted it up together as a symbol of their unified faith. She now realized it was not only a sign of love but also of rejection. Tears and laughter filled her spirit. All she could think now was that she wasn't the only one to have given her all to have it rejected. She was in good company, and like the quintessential Rejected Gift, she, too, would rise again.
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