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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)

TITLE: The Road to Hell
By Ambrose W


The real tragedy of Glenn was that he had the ability to identify good things. He knew that when one is surrounded by goodness, one becomes better by proxy.

Glenn wanted to be a good thing himself. He wanted to shed the slime of his forefathers and forge a new name.

But Glenn didn’t want to merely beg good people to be with him. He wanted to be wanted. And since Glenn worried that he didn’t yet have any intrinsic worth, he opted to pantomime goodness, just until he could get on his feet and turn a few heads

It wasn’t long before Glenn garnered some attention. Soon he realized that good people are often also generous people. And after a life of constant self-sufficiency, Glenn felt entitled to some generosity. It was this indulgence that coaxed him down from the high road.

Glenn had once heard that it was better to give than to receive. And so he offered himself up as an object of reception for any generous person who may need a blessing. This offering quickly gained an aggressive nature and so Glenn began to build his life.

He graduated college by weaseling into the best study groups. He landed a job by begging Harold to get him an interview. He got his first date with Marjorie by "filling in" for Tom who had come down with an unfortunate root canal

Years passed by and the coattails Glenn rode grew more profitable. Rarely exposed, he found himself in his late sixties, living handsomely. He and Marjorie were celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary. In honor of the occasion, Marjorie surprised Glenn with a similarly aged bottle of scotch. He had been hinting at it for weeks.

Glenn poured a glass for himself and settled into his leather club chair. He swirled it slowly in his hand and enjoyed the clink of the lazy ice cubes.

Marjorie sat next to him and sipped tea.

“Forty years. Can you believe it?” She asked, staring out the window.

“I suppose we must.”

“It feels like a blink. You always hear people say that. Cliché, but true.”

“Cliché’s come about for a reason.”

“Are you where you thought you’d be, Dear?” Marjorie turned toward Glenn.

Glenn wasn’t sure what to make of this. “I had always hoped we’d grow old together, I can’t think of another place to be.”

“I didn’t say ‘us’, Glenn, I said ‘you’. Are you satisfied?”

Glenn took a moment to search himself. As far as he could tell, he was happy with the man he’d become. The falsetto he’d developed had become quite cozy. It seemed the more time that passed, the less sensitive his scruples became. Each twenty-four hour eclipse brought with it a stronger opiate, and indeed, Glenn could not see any reason to be displeased with himself.

“Yes, Marjorie. I find myself content.” He hesitated, and then politely returned, “And are you satisfied with yourself?”

Marjorie cocked her head to the side in an almost playful fashion. “No. No dear, I am nowhere near the woman I wish I was.”

Glenn set his scotch down on a coaster and leaned back in his chair. He sighed dramatically and conceded to her preamble. “I am sure you would like to expound upon that. Feel free.”

“I always knew my youth would fade, that was never a question. I knew my days were numbered. I would only brim with energy for so many years. That eventually I’d have to tax myself to do mundane chores, or stay up past a certain hour.

But what I didn’t know was that I’d lose my spirit. Or that the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach on the night of our first date – which I mistook for butterflies – was actually my common sense sounding the alarms. Alarms that raged for a few years, but then gave up entirely.

For a long time I blamed myself. Thought I must have incurred some great sin. But Glenn, I swear, I am beginning to think that surrounding myself with you for forty years has pervaded me. I think I’ve breathed too much of you. I think I’ve been cheapened.”

Glenn manufactured a quiet reaction. “So what is your resolution?”

“No resolution. There’s nowhere else for me to go. By now the only person in the world for whom I’m good enough is you.”

A buzzing noise caught his attention. A lone fly was half-drowned in Glenn’s forty year-old scotch.

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This article has been read 389 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Rice 02/03/11
This is an usual take on the topic for me. The wife was hard, without hope maybe. I definately felt they were lost. Thanks for sharing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/05/11
Wow this is intense! You really gave me a lot to think about it. Sometimes we find ourselves in a different path than the one we hoped for. Thankfully, Jesus is waiting for us no matter what!
Leola Ogle 02/06/11
Loved the story! Good job of story-telling! I often wonder what goes through the minds of those who never served God as their journey in life comes near the end. Great writing!
Mildred Sheldon02/07/11
This was deep. God said the road to hell is wide and many will walk upon it. Thank you.
Marilee Alvey02/08/11
This was a very sad and empty tale of lives wasted. You set the tone well considering you only had 750 words in which to convey a wasted life. That's hard to do, but you managed to do it. I like the ending, the contrast between fine scotch and the dirty, drowning fly. No matter how Glen stuggles to be "fine scotch," in the end he is only a dirty fly about to drown.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/10/11
Congratulations on first place in your category for a story to really make the reader think...more than that to desire to be more than a "taker." Interesting that your mc never recognized himself for what he was.
Beth LaBuff 02/10/11
Wow, another amazing entry. I love your word choices and the symbolism you use. Excellent! Super congrats on that ribbon.. and on up you go! :)
Sydney Avey02/10/11
A terrific example of show, don't tell. Your story shows me how wide the road is. Thank you.