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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas (04/25/05)

TITLE: Learning to Love
By Madonna Hooper


She saw the flashing lights, heard the sirens and felt the blood ooze from the gaping wound in her side. “Stay with us. Stay with us.” She saw badges, uniforms and people milling about. Her eyes were heavy, oh so heavy. Patches of colour, interspersed with street lights and a crescent moon filled her vision. Her eyes would not stay open no matter how much she fought against the innate urge to close them. “She’s fading. We’re losing her.” An Ambulance arrived on the scene. To her hazy mind the siren sounded like the garish, grating jingle of an ice-cream van. “I don’t need an ice-cream,” she thought to herself, feeling slightly annoyed.

James Blakeley sat in his office plotting ways to escape Cheryl and her family this Christmas. He looked at his watch. They would all be in his lounge room right about now, drinking punch, chomping on his mother-in-law’s prawn cocktails and laughing about some silly family story. Cheryl had wanted him to be there to have supper with them but he had given her the ‘usual’ excuse about having to finish an urgent project.

This particular excuse was coming in handy lately, particularly as Cheryl seemed to be on a mission to make them the closest couple in history. He couldn’t stand the constant ‘sharing’ and ‘working through’ issues. The way he saw it, if she would just leave him alone their relationship would be fine!

He felt particularly uncomfortable when Cheryl talked about love. He had grown up in an abusive home and viewed love as a foreign language. Since Cheryl had become a Christian she was always talking about God’s love and how much God loved him. She said if he would receive God’s love he would be able to love himself and others. James didn’t need God or love. He had his work and his independence. He looked at the pile of work on his desk and smiled, much as one would smile at a familiar, treasured friend.

The telephone rang.

“Mr. Blakeley?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“It’s Officer Sorohan calling. Your wife Cheryl has been in an accident. You should come to the Royal City Hospital as soon as you can.”

James shook his head in disbelief as he drove frantically through the city streets. He felt tiny beads of perspiration gather on his forehead and his chest hurt. This was the last thing he had expected, especially on Christmas Eve. He found himself praying a prayer to the God he did not believe in; a prayer to Cheryl’s God.

The baby was born at exactly 12:03 a.m. on Christmas Day. James had been there through the entire C-section. He gasped in wonder, watching the Surgeon excavate the new life like an Archaeologist uncovering some rare treasure beneath the swollen earth. The baby’s cry filled the room and James felt tears sting his eyes. He held the tiny shape and stifled the urge to place him in his mother’s arms. He searched Cheryl’s face for signs of life, but the quiet stillness enveloping her forced him to avert his gaze.

He held his baby boy close and tenderly kissed his tiny head. He had lost a life and gained a life this Christmas Day. The reality of the situation rapped persistently on the door of his mind but could not find a lodging place. He didn’t know what the future held but as he gazed at the miracle in his arms he knew he did not want to make the same mistake twice. He was going to learn how to love.

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This article has been read 833 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helga Doermer05/02/05
This is a well-written peice.
donna robinson05/02/05
This story takes the reader to stories on two sides and I thought you did this well. It was a reminder to never take things for granted. Your heart ached for the father who would live with the thoughts he had in that brief moment before the accident and yet you felt hope because of the way you ended the piece. Good writing.
Kathy Warren05/03/05
Easy to read. Good transition. Wonderful message.
Michelle Sabrosky05/03/05
Very well written, it grabs you, and holds you from the begining.
Sue Edwards05/04/05
I enjoyed the story line and it was very easy to read. Nice.
Dixie Phillips05/08/05
Wow! Lots of emotional dynamics in you story. Great job!
Deborah Porter 05/09/05
Way to go Madonna (from one Aussie to another). By now I really hope that you are feeling much more confident about your writing. You are well and truly on the right track. So time to move on up to Level 2! You're ready for it. With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)
Donna Butler05/10/05
Very well written and kept me reading....fast. Enjoyed the story from beginning to end and it surely reminded me of how fragile life is...Nice job and congratulations.
Beth Muehlhausen06/22/05
Gripping and dramatic! Reminds me that life is fleeting, and to be treasured, moment by moment.