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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Commitment (01/05/12)

TITLE: Engraven - A Love Story
By Ebony Murdoch
01/12/12


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Fred was a simple man. Whenever he made a promise, he kept it.

_________________________

Fred stared through a half-cracked window in his room at the nursing home, sloshing tepid tapioca pudding from one side of his mouth to the other. Lost in thought, he barely noticed the attendant clearing his bedside tray.

"Done with dessert, Sir?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I've had about all I can stand. Say, do you have the time?"

"Sure. It's 12:30."

"Thanks. There's a lady comes in here to chat with me sometimes. Any visitors?"

"Not so far. But we'll be sure to let you know if anyone stops by."

"All right, deal. I guess I'll just get back to watching birds on the ledge. Funny how pigeons and doves look so much alike … "

"Yes it is." She added the last of his dishes to the cart, smiled gently, rolled into the busy corridor, and disappeared.

_________________________

Hours seemed to pass without company. Or had it only been a few minutes? Fred shook his head and threw up his arms, sick of the questions bandying about in his mind.

I don't like it here. I want to go home … Where is this place anyway? Where's Nancy? And where in the world are Paul and Fred Jr.?

His thoughts sped forward in time, and back again. He saw his father putting wood on the fire before supper … and that time when he skinned his knee and Mom came running out with water and clean rags … His sister was just a baby then …

As the sun began to set, Fred waited for dinner. He hadn’t been feeling well, and the activity room was closed. Just then, a short, gray-haired woman came in and sat by his bedside. A doctor stood in the hall, taking notes.

"Fred!" she beamed.

"Well, hello! To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"I just came by to see how you were feeling."

"Fine, now that you're here."

"Do you remember who I am?"

"Can't say that I do, but I never forget a face … "

They laughed.

"So tell me about your day …" She held his hand and listened intently.

He sat up in his chair and looked off into a far corner of the room. His eyes lit up and a broad smile spread across his face.

"I remember summers with Nancy," he said. "Her hair was copper, you know? It glittered in the sun. We would hold hands and walk on the boardwalk, split an ice-cream soda … That was where I popped the question, too—right there at Coney Island, after riding on the Cyclone. Why, she was so excited, she dropped that ice-cream soda and screamed!"

"You still remember that?"

"Oh yes, of course. She was the love of my life. I told her I'd never forget her, no matter what."

"Fifty years we were married …"

"Are you sure it wasn't sixty years?"

"Sixty years! How old do you think I am, lady?" He laughed.

"Ice cream sodas haven't been the rage for quite some time …"

"Yes, yes. That's true."

"She loved to dance, that girl. We used to dance the night away, out under the stars in summer."

"What about your kids? Do you remember their names?"

"Kids? We never had any kids."

"Sure you did. What about Paul and Fred, Jr.?"

"Who? Miss, you're not listening. We never had any children."

"I brought some pictures …"

"Don't show me any pictures! I don't know who you're talking about. That's not me, you're mistaken."

Frustration crept onto Fred's face until he placed both hands on his head and sighed loudly. "I don't have any kids. Just me and Nancy …"


The woman turned on the TV and they watched reruns of old westerns. Fred loved westerns. He laughed sometimes, but sometimes he just looked sad and empty.

After a few minutes, she kissed him on the forehead and left, walking down the hall with the doctor.

_________________________

The next morning, Fred stared through the half-cracked window, sloshing applesauce from one side of his mouth to the other.

"Here's your lunch," smiled the attendant.

"Thank you. Just leave it on the tray." His brow furrowed. "Say, do you have the time? There's a lady friend comes in to chat with me sometimes. Any sign of her?"

_________________________

The short, gray-haired woman signed in at the front desk.
"Go right in, Nancy," said the clerk. "He's expecting you."


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This article has been read 338 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jennifer Suchey01/12/12
This is a sweet story, and a sad one at the same time.

I got a little confused during the dialogue at who was talking. Twice, in the last section of dialogue, you continued Fred's dialogue with a space between, making it appear that Nancy was talking. I kept having to go back to figure out who was talking. Also, a tag on the end of a couple more lines of dialogue showing what the characters are doing and/or just to keep us on track with who is talking would be nice.

It is sweet to see the commitment that Nancy has for Fred, even though he doesn't remember her. Nice story. :)
Anne Warden 01/12/12
My mother did that, when she had dementia. She remembered me in pictures as a teenager, but not the adult I was. It's a bittersweet experience for the loved ones. But it must be very frustrating for the person with dementia. Thank you for showing us that frustration.

And for giving us a reminder that we need to visit our loved ones often, even if they don't quite remember as we do.
Michele Fleming 01/12/12
Beautiful story! I agree that it was hard to follow the dialouge, but other than that, I really enjoyed it. Good luck!
Judy Sauer 01/12/12
What a touching love story. I like how you focused on the loving commitment of marital vows. We all need a Nancy in our lives. Good job. Keep it up.
Kristine Baker01/12/12
I agree with the others that the conversation needed ownership as it got confusing. However, I placed myself in that room easily remembering my father while he was in a nursing home a few years ago.

Touching love story.

Good Job!
Lillian Rhoades 01/14/12
Your title is creative and a great fit for the story. This is a well-written piece with dialogue that is natural and endearing.

There's just one spot where the dialogue could confuse the reader." "She loved to dance, that girl. We used to dance the night away, out under the stars in summer"

That's an easy fix with a, "Fred continued..." before of after the statement.

Sooner or later, all of us could have a Fred in our family. You give an eloquent description of the toll this disease takes.

What a dynamite conclusion! Great job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/14/12
I love this. You nailed the topic without mentioning the word commitment- very well done.

Though I have read several Alzheimer stories, this one felt fresh and really grabbed my heart. This is my favorite so far this week. Great job.
CD Swanson 01/19/12
Congratulations on your win!
God Bless~
Jennifer Suchey01/19/12
Congrats, Ebony! You're on the podium! ;)

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jan Ackerson 03/28/12
Ebony, I'm going to feature this story on the Front Page Showcase for the week of April 23. Look for it on the FaithWriters home page--and congratulations!