Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)
TITLE: The Crystal Ceiling
By Cynthia Griffith
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“Shocked! Well no, actually I’m not surprised. You deserve it, but this just seems so sudden…”
“Sudden?” A frown crossed Carolyn’s face. “I’d hardly call it sudden, Scott! I’ve worked long and hard for this day! You, above all people, should know that!” She could hear her voice rising and stopped to take a deep breath.
“Whoa, Carrie!” her husband said softly as he took her in his arms. “I’m sorry. Of course, I’m delighted for you. Really, I am. I always knew you’d make it to the top someday. I guess I’m just a little scared about what this means for us.”
“It means more money, for one thing.”
“And that’s great, but it also means more work, more stress, more travel. Possibly having to move away from our family and friends. Less time for us…” He hesitated, his brown eyes searching her face. “What about our plans to have a baby?”
She couldn’t meet his gaze. “That’s going to have to wait, Scott. We still have plenty of time. I don’t have plenty of time to crash through the glass ceiling. I have to seize this opportunity while I can.” Carolyn reached for the freezer door. A rush of cold air hit her suddenly hot skin. She paused a long moment, looking for something to fix for dinner, but not really seeing the frosty boxes and bags before her. Why was he suddenly balking at her success? Why couldn’t he just be happy for her?
She turned back to him. “It’s not just the glass ceiling to me, Scott. It’s the crystal ceiling – that elusive, shining dream I’ve been chasing for the last ten years. I’ve studied hard, worked hard. I’ve made sacrifices to get where I am today, and now you want me to just pull back and let it slip away?”
“No, Carrie, not at all,” Scott said. “I just want you to make sure this is what you really want and that you are willing to make even more sacrifices.”
Dinner was a quiet affair that night. Scott made a few attempts to break through the barrier that had suddenly risen between them, but Carolyn was no longer in the mood to talk. At last he put down his fork and sighed. “Let’s just pray about it, honey,” he said. Without waiting for an answer, he began, “Father, we know You have a perfect will for our lives and a path for us to follow. Be with Carrie now, Lord, as she makes a decision about this job opportunity. Give her wisdom, show her Your will, please, Father, and give her peace in her decision. Thank You for Your love, and for Your guidance in our lives.”
Carolyn looked at Scott’s bowed head as he prayed, and her eyes filled with tears. He loved her. She knew that without a doubt, and she knew he truly did want what the best for her. What would be best for him, though? For them both as a couple?
The door to the small room next to their bedroom was standing open the next morning. Scott had been in there. Carolyn looked around the empty room as she reached into the closet for her best suit. She refused to picture the crib and dressing table in her mind as she usually did, however. There would have to be sacrifices.
Her lunch with the senior partners in the firm went as she had expected. They tossed out previews of future projects and promises of travel around the world, salary, benefits, perks and bonuses as if they were tasty tidbits meant to lure her into their lair. They glossed over the long working weekends, making them sound as if they were social occasions rather than business.
Carolyn reached out and touched the crystal goblet in front of her as she listened. Sacrifices. There would have to be sacrifices. Suddenly she knew the sacrifices she had been so willing to make earlier were the very treasures she wanted to clutch to her and never let go. Her marriage. A sweet little someone to fill that empty nursery. Yes, she could make sacrifices – the right ones this time.
“Excuse me,” she murmured as she rose from the table. She dialed her cell phone as she walked away. “Scott?”
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