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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Oops (01/14/10)

TITLE: Caught in the Act
By Patricia Protzman


Caught in the Act

Last February I attended a teacher’s seminar for a few days in a diminutive southern town thirty miles from my home. The meeting ended after lunch and I drove back to the motel to pick up my suitcase and check out. As I opened the car door I saw a young couple come out of their room and stand outside. The sight made my stomach turn.

I recognized them as members of our church. Both were married, but not to each other. They embraced, kissed, and the man got into his car and drove away. The woman covered her face with her hands, staggered toward the parking lot, and leaned on a car. Her entire body shook. I decided to speak to her.

I shut my car door, walked over to her and said, “Hi, Kathy, are you alright?”

Blood-shot eyes met mine and she gasped, “Oh, No! Linda, why are you here?”

“Teachers meetings, this is where I’ve stayed since Wednesday. I haven’t checked out yet, let’s go to my room where it’s private. Okay?”

Kathy wiped her swollen eyes with the sleeve of her coat and whispered, “Yes.”

I unlocked the door and we went inside, removed our coats, and settled into seats at a table. Sunrays streamed through the window blinds, fingers of light played with Kathy’s copper-colored hair.

I wondered how to open the conversation, but Kathy beat me to it.

“Linda, I’m so ashamed, I’m sorry you caught us together but I’m also glad. I hate what I’ve been doing” She whined as she fumbled in her purse.

“I grabbed a few tissues from the bathroom, handed them to her and asked,” Do you want to tell me what happened? I want to help if I can.”

“One evening two months ago while typing minutes from a Deacon’s meeting Mark came into the office. He said everyone had left and he stayed to turn out lights and lock doors. We discussed church, our kids, and exchanged information about our marital problems. I found Mark sympathetic and a comfort.”

“He said he didn’t receive much attention from his wife, Sandy; they never spoke more than a few words, she seemed all wrapped up with their two little boys. He still loved her, but their marriage stood at the crosswords of nowhere.”

“I told him Jim’s career demanded he travel most of the time; we saw each other two or three days a week. Linda, I’m home alone with the girls most of the time except when mom visits. Conversation is limited, you know, with four and seven year olds.”

I nodded and said “go on.”

“He asked me to have a snack with him and I agreed. I called mom, who stayed with the girls when I had to be away and lied to her. I told her I needed to finish typing up the minutes and catch up on other paperwork. It might take two or three hours.”

“Linda, I know you won’t believe me, but I didn’t want to go with him after I said yes, but I couldn’t tell him no, I felt paralyzed.”

“You tumbled into Satan’s trap, Kathy. I’m sorry you didn’t recognize it. Temptation, enticement, desire, sin, and death are paths to infidelity. To prevent it we need to put limits in place to keeps us from situations where temptation can occur.”

“You’ll never know how sorry I am, Linda.”

“We went to a fast food place and parked in the back of the parking lot. Before long, Mark kissed me. What alarmed me is I kissed him back. He drove to this motel and we committed adultery. We’ve been here several more times.” Kathy hung her head, little pools of tears danced on the table in front of her as the table shook with her sobs.

“I’m sorry, Kathy,” I said as she turned and slumped on my shoulder.

“Do you love your husband? I asked.”

“Yes, I do,” she sniffled, “I want to keep our family together, but I’m afraid George may want to divorce me after he finds out what I did.”

“You need to speak with our pastor. He will counsel you on what to do next.”

“Let’s pray, Kathy. I’ll begin and you can take over.”

“Yes, I need to ask the Lord’s forgiveness.” She said, as she bowed her head and Linda prayed.

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This article has been read 588 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mildred Sheldon01/22/10
Thank you for a gut wrenching story. Believe it or not but that happens more often then not in churches. People don't like to admit to adultery in their church, but we are all sinners and we sometimes fall into Satan's traps. Christians are not exempt from committing sins. Keep writing and God bless.
c clemons01/22/10
Somehow I wouldn't classify adultery as an "oops". But as far as the writing goes I would say the conversation wasn't quite that natural coming from Linda. A little work on the flow and this will read better.
Jean Beier01/23/10
Oops can be minor or major, life or death. In God's eyes they are all the same. That is why Jesus took the cross. You wrote your piece with compassion and forgiveness. Good job!
Jan Ackerson 01/26/10
What a compassionate, sympathetic friend!

I'd suggest a little tweaking of the dialog--both punctuation and flow.

Thanks for tackling a difficult subject with compassion.
Edmond Ng 01/27/10
This is a story often untold, yet its existence is undeniable.

I agree that Linda's dialogue needs some brushing up, especially on its approach, which in my humble opinion, sounded more like a reprimand than help when she said "You tumbled into Satan's trap, Kathy. I'm sorry you didn't recognize it." People who are in it seldom see what's going on as a trap. Of course, that could be exactly what an insensitive 'counselor' said, but for the purpose of writing, some tweaking to make smoother reading should help. In the story, the regret, rather than remorse, appears to come in too quickly for a confession just to end the story, but I guess with the 750 words limit, not much can be done.

As for the oops, I think it appears more likely to be coming from the person who discovered what should not have been in questioning 'how is it that they are together?', rather than from the persons committing the wrong in saying 'Oops, I've committed a mistake.'

On the whole, you've done well in coming up with the plot, so persevere and keep on writing.

Dr. Sharon Schuetz01/27/10
This does happen to a lot of people in churches. I've counseled my share. You brought a "taboo" subject to light. Good for you. I agree about the little tweaks but overall, good job.
Scarlett Farr01/27/10
This is a good story. Like the others said, it can be great with a little tweaking. Sometimes it's tough to convey a total picture in 750 words so I think if you expanded it for a purpose outside the challenge you would have a very thought provoking piece -- it may even be just the words someone considering adultery needs to hear. Isn't that really why we are writing -- to touch someone's heart?