Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)
TITLE: The Road to Hell
By Ambrose W
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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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