Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)
TITLE: Do You Regret?
By BILL HUNT
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by Bill Hunt
Big Greg heaves a dry, fresh, aromatic hay bale across the barn to the back corner. The rustic building cuts into the hill just up from the rocky brook behind the house. Light shines aplenty inside with the double doors open and with the small, multi-pane windows in the opposite walls. A dusty wooden stairway spirals on the back wall to the main loft overhead. A rooster crows late from the nearby, long white chicken house in the five acre field.
“Hi! What'chya doin?”
His wife, Bette, of moderate height, enters through the morning sunlight. She's cheery in her over-worn, light print summer dress. Her thin silhouette in the light appears an angelic vision.
“Nothing much,” Greg notices.
“I just grained the whole chicken barn, and now I'm feeding pellets to the rabbits. Look at'em! Where'd we get so many white rabbits? New Zealand invaders! He jokes with a half smile and stumbles a little on his bad leg. He delights in his wife's occasional visits to the barn.
“Now, don't tell me you're not doing much,” his wife says. “I can see you're sweating and it's only morning. Don't overdo it. The doctor said....”
His wife sits on the bale of hay in the corner, grabs her knees, and tucks her feet back.
“Do you remember tomorrow?” she coaxes lightly and finger-brushes her hair from her right eye.
Greg winces a bit and thinks fast. At first his mind blanks dark, but he knows he can't let on.
“Father?” he whispers a prayer under his breath. Greg figures the clock ticks one second to recall something, and he may need a little divine help.
“Well,” he replies. “Thursday's tomorrow...so it's our anniversary.” He hunts for a ready made distracting diversion.
“I think we should drive to town tomorrow evening,” he adds. “Let's get a steak.”
“Yes,” she replies, still thinking deeply. “Do you regret anything?”
“Regret! Regret what?” he asks.
“Anything in our twenty years,” she replies.
He leans the sharp pitchfork against the dark barn wall and sits down beside her.
“How could I regret?” he asks. “I need you. I live with you. You're my partner. What could I regret?”
“Before I married you, you stood so confident,” said his wife. “You were a self-made man. You served in the military. You owned your own dairy farm. It seems like every thing's gone wrong with us. Your leg....”
“Before I married you,” Greg interrupted, “I was lonely. I prayed for purpose in my life. I felt more like a heavy, hollow milk can. I returned home, bought the big farm, and found myself alone. You are the purpose in my life, and the kids. And you always will be.” He reached over and held her fingers in her lap.
“The loss of my leg was just one of those things that happens in life,” he told his wife. It was the field tractor's fault. We may have a smaller place. But God and I haven't stopped working together. It's just been a little tougher, that's all. He knows! We'll never make any money. But we'll never starve either. My check is big enough—if we're careful. Besides there's the chicken income. That's extra! And Tonya will soon finish college.”
“Our greatest loss is Jerry. I feel like a failure.”
“Yes, but he's coming home in five weeks. He can finish his education. You know he's humbled down.”
“Five years ripped my heart out. Why did he ever do that?”
“Everything will heal with time. Besides you're a prayer warrior. Don't give up now. You've won! The blessings always follow the trials. You know that. He's coming home.
“No, I don't have any regrets. Let's drive into town tomorrow. We'll celebrate the future. God hasn't stopped working. He's new every morning.”
The big man stood, squeezed, and tenderly kissed his wife. Then she parted for the house.
“No...no regrets,” he thought to himself as he watched after her. “Thank you, God, for that girl.”
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