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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Agreement/Disagreement (01/19/12)

TITLE: 22 Minutes
By Jan Chapman


After leaving my doctor’s office, I stepped into the fancy boutique next door and was wowed by the selection for newborns. I just smiled and settled on a pair of tiny baby booties and had them gift wrapped. After ten years of marriage I had finally conceived.

The phone trilled and upon answering I heard his familiar deep baritone. “Honey, I have something to tell you. How about we make a night of it and go to dinner?”

“Perfect. I can’t wait!”

Enjoying our favorite dishes at Provinos, I could not contain myself any longer. “C’mon, Jason, tell me already. I’m about to burst with excitement. I have some news too.”

“Go ahead,” he said. “Mine can wait.”

“You go first, Babe. Let’s get business out of the way ‘cause you’re gonna be absolutely thrilled when you hear my surprise.”

“Gabby. Please. Tell. Me.” I knew Jason was struggling with something. He had a lot on his mind lately; his latest promotion, new responsibilities, the declining health of his mom, the likelihood of a transfer to a foreign country. He needed some good news and I couldn’t wait to share with him.

“I will, Jason. Just as soon as you tell me what’s on your mind.”

“What I’m going to say will change the world as you know it.”

“Japan, here we come,“ I thought. I could hardly contain myself. I kept squirming around in my chair and fiddling with the present in my purse. I was beside myself willing him to hurry up and spit it out.

“I decided to tell you this in a public place because I wanted you to be able to contain your emotions and deal with the force of it before we got home.”

My brain was trying to tell me that something was awry here. In mere seconds, I replayed the whole evening. The synapses began firing and I realized Jason had not been himself since he walked into the restaurant. He had picked at his food and seemed distracted. He was stiff and remote. Why hadn’t I noticed it before?

He looked at me, held my gaze and said quickly, “Gabby, you’re a good woman but I’m in love with somebody else and I want a divorce and I want it over fast before I report for my next tour of duty.” He exhaled long and loudly as though he had been holding his breath.

All sound, light and motion stopped. Moments later, his head came into focus but I couldn‘t hear him. Without saying a word, I left him in the restaurant and ran until the pain in my side refused to allow me to continue. I then walked and walked to no where.

By dawn, the stinging pain in my blistered, bloodied feet returned me to reality. I found myself in the city park, having lost my heels and purse. The horrendous physical pain in my heart was agonizing and I thought I might be dying. I could hear it beating in my head and feel it fluttering as though a bird were throwing itself against the inside of my chest. Sweat mixed with salty tears and sticky snot was all over my face, my hands and in my hair. I couldn’t bring myself to speak to another human being so I began the excruciating walk home.

Evidently, I hadn’t thought to grab my purse when I left Provinos because when I returned home it was on the dining table with the booties. The box had been opened and the booties removed. They looked obscene setting in the middle of the torn, ragged pieces of paper and ribbon.

After weeks of meteoric highs and lows, rivers of tears, intense anger, fault finding, blame placing, and heart wrenching pain, we found words of love and forgiveness. We agreed to stay in the marriage and make it work. Our pastor, our families, and our church friends helped us through the heart ache and struggles.

Official orders came and we were transferred to sunny, Miami, instead of Okinawa. We had a healthy, beautiful 6 pound 13 ounce baby girl we named Aubrey, who was the light of our lives.

Exactly three years later on February 8, 2000 our divorce was final at 1:58 p.m.. Jason remarried February 8, 2000 at 2:20 p.m..

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This article has been read 420 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/26/12
This is a heart-wrenching tale. You did a nice job of showing the topic in a clever and fresh way. What is a better example of agreements and disagreements than marriage and divorce.

Some of the sentences may have been a tad long. But you did a nice job of using descriptive phrases.

The ending was quite powerful. I can't imagine getting married mere minutes after a divorce. You did a nice job with this. Keep writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/26/12
Oh yeah, be careful with having the title give away the ending. It didn't in this case (I actually scratched my head at first wondering how 22 minutes related to story) I see that was time from divorce to remarriage, and people aren't going to realize that from just reading the title, but sometimes if the title is based on the end it can give away a good twist. Not sure if I made sense--my brain is tired. :)
Janice Fitzpatrick01/26/12
Wow. Very good believable dialogue and then "bam"-the unexpected! After you have her husband find the booties I wondered if he would still leave or that the news would rekindle his feelings towards her.
What a sad piece but thank the Lord for the blessings of children. I felt for the character and didn't see the time frame coming either.

Other than being a little lengthy which is not a bigee this piece is very well written. (I have to work on that myself too.:))
God bless and keep up the great writing.:)
C D Swanson 01/26/12
Wow! What a powerful piece, it tugged at my heart. I felt so bad for the MC after the husband delivered the "bomb."

Wonderful metaphors, excellent descriptions of how the MC was feeling. I especially loved this:
"I could hear it beating in my head and feel it fluttering as though a bird were throwing itself against the inside of my chest."

Great job - I loved this. Keep writing - wonderful piece.

God Bless~
Jenna Dawn01/26/12
What a tale you told! Both excitement and joy as well as gut wrenching pain. I'm wondering if this is your own story and, if so, I feel for you.

When I got to the line about finally conceiving after 10 years, I realized that the MC had to have been ecstatic . . . like beside herself ecstatic in the biggest possible way. I kind of wish I had a sense of that excitement in the first sentence. We don't have to know why she's so happy in the first sentence. Use that to draw the reader in. Make them wonder why she's so darn happy. Just a thought, anyway. That's how I would have started it.

This is a good story and it held my attention. I didn't know what was coming, was happy that they stayed together, but then another twist with the sad ending. If this is not a true story, I could easily see it being one. Nice job.
Sharon Gault Baker01/27/12
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/27/12
Wow, what a range of emotions. So sad it ended the way it did, but glad she had a little girl to love.
Judy Sauer 01/27/12
Wow, what a roller coaster. First I was over the moon excited for her. Then devastated with the schmuck's cowardice way of breaking the news - in public. I was surprised by two things at the end. They stayed together for the baby. Then the divorce at 1:58pm and he remarried two minutes later. What a schmuck!

When stories get me riled up inside it's a sign of good writing. Keep it up
Judy Sauer 01/27/12
Oops! I meant to type 22 minutes. He's still a schmuck
AnneRene' Capp01/28/12
This is superb! Your descriptions of emotions are outstandingly accurate to those of us who've shared similar situations and trials. I was enthralled in this story to see what happend next. Your ending was also perfect!! The bottom line was not expected and yet forseen, and left much to the imagination. This does not belong in beginners. I SO look forward to reading more from an obviously talented writer.
Helen Curtis01/31/12
Wow, that is powerful writing indeed. I agree with everything that has already been said by the others, wonderful descriptions and a great twist at the end.

I don't know if anyone else did this, but I must admit I skipped over the date and time at the end of the story; too many 'facts' to take in at once. I wonder, could you perhaps say,

"Exactly three years later on February 8, 2000 our divorce was final at 1:58 p.m; twenty two minutes later, Jason remarried."

It still shows the ridiculously short time frame, but less 'thinking' is needed. I hope that makes sense, and others may totally disagree with my logic!

Anyway, great story and I, too, look forward to reading more of your work! Well done!
Theresa Santy 01/31/12
I can tell I'm reading something good, by the sounds I make when I'm reading it:

"Oh man!"

Thank you for taking me on this emotional journey.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/01/12
A story that keeps the reader interested all the way through is a well told story. This is one of those. I just kept hoping it wasn't true.
Danielle King 02/02/12
Oh - what shall I say? For a beginner's entry - excellent! Loved the fast pace, tension, emotion, realism, everything! There were bits and bobs that could be tightened up but on the whole, a very well written entry and spot on topic! You won't be in level one for long.