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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)

TITLE: Joe Retires
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge
05/19/10
~7th Place


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The darkness of my bedroom is interrupted by small beams of sunlight filtering through the mini blinds. I turn toward the alarm clock. Blocking my line of sight is a body, one I’m not accustomed to seeing. It’s my husband of forty-five years. For our entire married life he was out of bed before me, giving me a clear view of the alarm clock on his nightstand. Not so today.

I reach over and shake his warm body, his snoring ends abruptly. I shake him again.

“What?” he grumbles.

“Why are you still in bed? Aren’t you going to work?”

As he rolls over I get a whiff of his morning breath.

“You’re kidding right? Don’t you remember I retired yesterday? You even gave me a party, silly!”

“Oh yeah—guess it’s going to take some getting used to. Does this mean the coffee’s not ready?”

“Yup.”

I whine, “But you always make the coffee before I wake-up.”

As the room is getting brighter I can see Joe smile. “Ain’t the only thing around here that’s going to be changing. Let me know when breakfast’s ready.”

“Dream on dear, dream on,” I playfully punch his arm.

As I make the coffee I realize the newspaper is still outside. “Mr. Retiree wants me to make the coffee AND get the morning paper?” I shout to the ceiling, not sure if he can hear me or not.

I read the paper, complete the crossword puzzle, shower, get dressed, read my Bible, and begin cleaning the kitchen. My husband walks in wearing his bathrobe and slippers. I shake my head and smirk.

“Hey, wife, it only looks like I haven’t done anything yet. I’ve been working while I was in bed.”

“Oh really, and may I ask at what?”

“Working on my strategy—every great writer has to have a strategy. To begin with I have to decide where I’m going to write. I have to surround myself with the right supplies and the things that will get my creative juices flowing, you know.”

“Joe, you’re not still thinking about becoming a writer, are you?”

Scratching his head, Joe fills his old work mug with coffee, puts it down on the counter, then comes toward me. “Why do you think I’m kidding about being a writer?”

Catching my breath after Joe’s bear hug, I gently push him away. “Because in all these years I’ve never seen you read anything but the newspaper, TV Guide, or your Bible. What do you know about writing?”

“What I know Miss Smart-alecky is that all my life, when I tell people about the stuff I’ve been through, they always tell me I could write a book. So that’s what I’m going to do, give my fans what they want.”

I signal to Joe to sit down while I refill my mug. I lower my voice, choosing my words carefully. “Hon, I think what they meant is that you should write a book, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you could write a book. Writing is really hard work, and it’s lonely. You love being surrounded by people and action. I’m worried that in the end you’ll resent the time you wasted. Why not work on your golf game or a hobby more in line with your personality and God given gifts. Besides, have you prayed about this?”

“Aw come on, how hard can it be? And if God didn’t want me to write, why’d He put it in my heart?”

“Did He put it in your heart Joe, or did other people?”

Suddenly, I feel God tug at my heart. I get up, walk over to Joe, and wrap my arms around his shoulders. “Let me know how I can help.” I kiss the bald spot on the top of his head and ask God to help us both.

Day after day I watch Joe pace around his new desk in the den. I watch him write longhand in his notebook, tear out sheets of paper, ball them up, and attempt to throw them into his basketball wastebasket. I hear him let out big sighs before asking me if I need any help. I hear him ask what’s for dinner at 9:30 AM.

I see Joe becoming bored and frustrated.

I hear the old Joe disappearing.

I pray for wisdom.

I see cruise brochures on Joe’s desk.

I hear him say, “The book can wait till we get back.”

I whisper, “Thank you God.”

Joe's retired, again.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Rikki Akeo05/20/10
Funny entry!
Beth LaBuff 05/23/10
I'm drinking coffee as I read this. :) I had to smile at the changes to her life and her reaction to them. (and loved that she wanted to be supportive if he did write). I hope Joe doesn't give up. I enjoyed this!
Brenda Shipman 05/23/10
Such a realistic slice of life, and told so well! With retirement not too far down the road for my own husband, I could envision myself in your shoes - what an adjustment! Kudos to you for being an encouraging wife and, like Beth said, I hope Joe tries again. Writing is not for the faint of heart! Great read.
Loren T. Lowery05/27/10
Glad to see you back and writing; and congratulations on your EC with this wonderful submission.
Beth LaBuff 05/27/10
Angela, I'm so excited for you. Super congrats on your ribbon AND your editor's choice for this winning entry! Happy Birthday!
Mona Purvis05/27/10
Angela, this is so fresh and interesting. Both characters are endearing. On topic and from an out-of-box perspective.
Just love it.

Mona
Eliza Evans 05/27/10
CONGRATULATIONS, ANGELA!!!

I am so happy for you! :)

Wonderful entry!
Joan Campbell05/28/10
Congratulations on your EC, Angela. You captured the couple's interaction as sweet and fun. I liked the different angle - an MC who wasn't meant to be writing. Great job!
Rita Garcia05/29/10
Congratulations! Great story!! I'll be watching for your stories to appear in the Master's level!!!
Sharon Eastman05/30/10
My husband just retired and it's quite an adjustment. You covered this transition in a funny, original way. Loved it!