Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)
TITLE: The Drive
By D.A. Urnosky
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His mind drifted back thirty years when he was a boy of five and looking up at the woman holding his hand as they crossed the street. He was trying hard to be brave. He had cried while getting dressed, but Mom assured him he would have fun. Besides, he was a big boy now and school was important for a growing boy. When he saw her leaving, he ran to her and clung to her legs. She turned around, bent down and raised his chin to look at her. Her calming brown eyes and warm smile was all it took for him to turn around and join the children playing in the corning.
The man checked his watch. He would be cutting it close, but he should make it with a few minutes to spare. He turned onto the road that would lead him to the town forty miles away. That’s where he would find the church.
As he passed the entrance to a high school, his thoughts went back to his high school days. He was a running back on the football team. He had joined the football program at eight, and stayed involved all the way through his senior year. And there she sat, on the end of the third row of bleachers no matter what the weather. He would look over at her and she would sit quietly. Her hands folded in her lap. He could always see her smile no matter if her head was bare, under an umbrella, or covered with a stocking cap. His senior year, the state championship game was halfway across the state, but when he took to the field, there she sat on the end of the third row. She never learned to drive and he never knew how she got there.
He reached the county seat limits only fifteen miles to go and twenty minutes to the service begins. With luck and a little extra gas pedal, he’ll make it there a couple of minutes early. The two lane road that connected the county seat to the town was busy, but steadily moving.
The last time he was here, he walked into her hospital room. Her eyes were closed, but when he approached the bed, she reached for his hand. The operation took longer than expected. Once inside, the doctors found more cancer than the tests had shown. There would be chemotherapy and radiation and the recovery time would be talked about in months, not weeks. She looked at him with those same kind brown eyes. Even though the skin around the mouth had wrinkled, the smile was as radiant as ever. And as her usual self, she never complained.
He pulled into the parking lot of the church, parked the car and made his way up the stairs to the big red doors. The church bell rang out in a monotone bong. He opened the door and entered the building with a minute remaining. The people already seated in the sanctuary looked at him as he slowly made his way down the aisle. He recognized a few of the faces staring at him, but most were strangers. He never realized his mother had made so many friends.
When he reached the front of the church, the organ music stopped and the ministered said, “Who gives this woman away?”
“I do, her son.” He said proudly. He kissed her cheek and sat quietly, smiling in the first pew with his hands folded in his lap.
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