Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: Retreat From The Past
By Gabrielle Morgan
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His words rang dead in her soul.
Julia sat opposite Sam Slater, a wineglass gripped tightly in her hand. She didn’t look at him, her eyes riveted on the starched white tablecloth, its blank surface suffused in her mind.
“We could….” She didn’t hear any more.
What had she done? It was the eve of her divorce from Karl. The lawyer had read out her rights; the finality of clear divisions, property settlement, all foreign to the grief which had taken over her being. She wanted to run to her home, the life she had built with Karl step by step in harmony with herself. But it was all gone, leaving her in a void. There was no going back. The Judge had told her Karl had a son, a son she had known nothing about. The shock was devastating.
She lifted her eyes to the man opposite her. His face was serious. He looked directly at her; she knew he sensed her devastation. His deep brown eyes belied his words.
“We’ll look for a place to live Julia. Perhaps we’ll get a flat first and then build on the acres.”
“Yes, we could.”
She raised the wine to her lips and felt the red liquid seep into her tongue. She took another mouthful and swallowed heavily hoping the wine would appease her feelings. They continued to talk about their future without conviction, both knowing there would be no future together.
When Sam had first come into Julia’s life he had consumed her every thought. No day had been complete without him, he had been the very essence of the day itself, an attraction so compelling that rational thinking had left her. Now, three years later, she was still emotionally in his grip, but she had lost all that was really dear to her, her husband and her home. Sam had offered her security and his ambition to provide. He had insisted her husband didn’t do enough for her. She had admired Sam’s quick intelligence, wit and manly strengths, but now she knew these very strengths were part of his ruthless nature which was so much in contrast to her own.
Their evening together was a portent of what followed. Despite what he had said, one week later he announced his engagement to Ruth Lane. It was inconceivable to Julia that he would marry this woman, it was too cruel to contemplate. Ruth Lane had had a short and fiery affair with her husband, Karl, when he and Julia had first separated. Although their affair didn’t last long, it was enough to make Julia decide not to go back to her marriage. Now Ruth was going to take Sam too.
For months Julia existed in a state of hopeless depression. Life became meaningless; pleasures she had once enjoyed failed to have any impact on her emotions at all.
Her final humiliation seemed complete when she attended a friend’s wedding where she was forced to confront Sam and Ruth together and Karl with the mother of his three month old son. They all seemed happy and complete which made Julia’s pain more acute. She left in tears of rejection.
There were endless recriminations. She blamed herself for the break up of her marriage, although she had really tried to convince Karl they were doing the wrong thing to divorce. Julia missed her home and the friends who now seemed too embarrassed to call her.
It hurt Julia to think of Karl having a son. She wondered if it would have sealed their marriage if they had had children. Even though her original attraction to Sam had sparked off the conflict in their relationship, she had fought to save her marriage. But Ruth Lane’s intrusion had not helped.
Julia’s grief was so deeply felt that it threatened to overtake her.
She retreated into herself. She questioned her values, her relationship with God, the Church and the secular world. It had been simple when she was married, no conflict, no real test on her faith. But she had failed. She hadn’t thought of Karl but preferred to selfishly go after her own pleasure. But there was a price.
It took years for Julia to retreat from her past, the pain remained with her. But life had taught her that love and truth was in God’s word alone. In her quiet moments she called on Him and found new strength in her faith.
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