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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Phew! (02/11/10)

TITLE: Still Breathing
By Marie Fink


“I think I might be developing allergies from the cat,” her husband commented for the third or fourth time in a few months.

She replied, “Well, I’ll pick up some more of that over the counter allergy stuff when I’m out today. What’s it called again?”

James didn’t hear his wife as he was already in the study room on the computer working on: work. To keep the family afloat financially he puts in about fifty-five hours a week, except for when he is on a business trip, and then the hours can be more. The nature of his job requires lots of reading, writing, thinking, and meeting with other great minds to come up with long term solutions to real problems, not specifically mentioned here.

In his off time, James enjoys writing and creating in other venues too. He might write a poem or devotion for entertainment at a church function, and then find time to analyze the yearly budget and present it at a congregational meeting. He is also passionate about his hobbies and loves sharing them with other people, youth and peers alike. Somehow he manages to fit a lot in his day.

Jan seems only to show her frustration around the quick twenty minute dinnertimes they share nearly every evening. “Tell me about your day,” she persuades.

James replies, “It was okay. I have a lot to do tonight.”

This familiar reply isn’t good enough for Jan, so she goes on, “Well, how was your first meeting this morning?” “Did you make the deadline for your most recent project?”

And with extra nudging, James opens up a bit more about his day, lets off a little steam, and starts relaxing in order to enjoy dinner with his wife. “Mmm, this is really good. You should make it again sometime,” he says with a mouthful.

Lately, Jan has noticed that her energetic husband has been looking a little more fatigued than usual. “Are you feeling okay?” she asks cautiously.

“Yes, is the usual, slightly gruff, annoyed, reply. Why would you ask that?”

Jan ponders out loud: “Since you sit in front of a computer most of the day, maybe I should look into getting one of those ‘diodes’ that the healthy crowd touts.”

James responds absent mindedly, “Sure, I guess I could try that.”

“Aha, then you’re NOT feeling well!” Jan jumps.

“I didn’t say that!” retorts James.

“Okay,” Jan calms down. Let’s have a nice dinner. What do you have going on this weekend?” she asks knowing that it will be busy.

Later that evening James takes his nightly walk. Thinking about her husband she envies, “I wish I had his discipline.”

About an hour later, James comes through the door from his evening jaunt a little more out of breath than usual. “Were you jogging?” Jan asked.

“No, replies James. Maybe these allergies are really asthma or something. Could you look into some ideas at the health food store this weekend?”

“Sure,” answers Jan.

The next morning Jan ran to the health food store and brought home an herbal remedy that she wisecracked, “It may or may not help you, but it won’t hurt you.” Then she went about her day. James wrote a devotional for the men of the church, an idea paper for work the following week, fixed a ‘running’ toilet, and ran a few errands.

After his nightly walk the tired and content couple watched a movie together before dropping off to bed. “Church tomorrow,” yawned Jan.

“Yes, church tomorrow,” copied James.

On the way to church, James said, “I don’t feel so well.”

“Describe what you mean,” worried Jan aloud.

“I don’t know. I just don’t feel well,” answered James.

After church James sat down and was breathing heavily. Trying to be discrete and heaving at the same time, James looked at Jan and she immediately asked, “Do you want to go to the hospital?”

Half expecting his slightly gruff or annoyed response, Jan was surprised with, “Yes.”

“Oxygen levels are very low,” commented a nurse. “Breath deeply,” she ordered.

“When did you quit smoking, James?” inquired the doctor.

The surprised patient answered, “I have never smoked!”

Several tests and many hours later, the doctor exclaimed, “Phew! You’ve already survived what is often fatal. You have neither allergies nor asthma, but multiple embolisms on your lungs. A blood thinner will help the clots go down so that you can breathe again.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marie Fink02/18/10
Bummer. I just found at least two mistakes I would have fixed if I had proof read a 12th time!
Donna Wolther02/19/10
Don't beat yourself up. There is always the next challenge. I have done the same thing when submitting in a hurry. The story was good.
Brenda Shipman 02/20/10
Great job painting the picture of a productive servant of God, and a couple who are comfortable and content in their marriage. You grabbed my attention immediately by opening with a quote, and then developed the story nicely with good pacing. What a surprise ending! Amazing this man was able to continue functioning so well with multiple embolisms! The errors you mentioned are just punctuation misses, nothing major. Good job!