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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Commitment (01/05/12)

TITLE: The Painful Choice
By djvenzke Venzke


Optional answers flooded through the man's mind in rapid succession. Which was the right one?

I said I would commit and I meant it. It's called commitment.

Promises are so old fashion.

Only God can keep promises so don't get all judgmental on me.

I am committed as long as it benefits me.

I am committed except when I can stray unseen…that doesn't count against me.

I've decided to be a free spirit and no longer commit to anything.

Stan was floundering in the possible responses to Gert's question. He glanced at her again. Her hands were on her hips. Her mascara was streaking down her cheeks and she had that "I'm dead serious" look that he always tried to avoid. Even though she was angry she was still beautiful. The idea that he might be just one wrong response away from losing her was suffocating.

Without question, he loved his wife. They had met in grade school and been sweethearts ever since. He flashed back to the day in his backyard when they were both ten. The shy little blond girl that owned his heart showed him a special memento she had made for them to share. She had fashioned it with red clay, cut it in half and baked it in her mom's oven. On the back of the two part heart she had scratched their names. She asked him to keep the half with her name on it. She promised to keep his half.

Stan glanced again to see if Gert's expression had mellowed any. It hadn't. In fact he sensed increased impatience in the usually seductive face.

He put his hand in his left pocket, sorted through its contents and found what he was feeling for. He and his wife had it made to celebrate their engagement. It was half of a silver replica of the clay heart that she had made years earlier. Attached to his key chain it reminded him of his commitment that had survived high school, college, and thirteen years of marriage. Now that commitment would be renewed or destroyed by his choice. How had he gotten himself into this predicament? Well, whatever, it was time for his decision.

He removed the key chain from his pocket and deftly removed the emblem of his commitment. He held it in his open hand and showed it to Gert.

"What's this about?" she managed.

"It's about commitment, Gert. I'm sorry, but I can't do what we planned. Don't get me wrong. I wanted to, but I was wrong to think I could go through with it."

"Are you backing out?" Gert challenged.

"From the ill advised idea that I leave my wife, yes I am. But I'm not backing out from my commitment to her. It was wrong of me to ever give you the impression that I could."

Gert slapped Stan's face, than did it again. "You wimp!" she hissed. "You're done in the company, mister. I'll see to it you get fired. Count on it!" She stomped to her car, revved the engine and sped away from their covert meeting place.

Stan drove home slowly. He needed the time to sort things out. He knew he'd made the right decision, but he still felt helpless. How would he explain his sudden firing? What if Jen ever found out about the affair? What would he say when Jen asked about the missing charm? It had disappeared from his hand when Gert struck him and he hadn't been able to find it.

"What do I do now?" he lamented. He looked at a large truck approaching in the opposite lane and impulsively turned to meet it head on.
He heard Jen calling his name. When he opened his eyes he realized he was in the hospital. Jen was beside him holding his hand.

"Oh Stan, I'm here, honey, I'm here," Jen assured him.

"I'm not dead?" he marveled.

"No, honey. God did a miracle and spared your life. It will take a long time for your recovery, but don't worry. I'll be with you every day. I'll never forget our commitment."

At the mention of the last word memories came flooding back and Stan began crying.

Jen patted his hand. "Don't cry honey. It's ok. You'd do the same for me."

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This article has been read 376 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Terry R A Eissfeldt 01/12/12
The tension was palatable. Well done.
Judy Sauer 01/12/12
I must have misread the beginning sentence. I thought this was going to be a list of dialog we all use to talk ourselves out of what we promise, then advice on how to get out of our ruts.

Then getting into the story I backtracked and it made more sense. Intense scene imagery.
Lawrence Hebb01/12/12
I think this is a clever piece of writing. it's only at the end that we find out that Gert wasn't the wife. Reakky well done.
Michele Fleming 01/13/12
Very intense! Good job!
Verna Mull 01/13/12
Beautiful job! Great suspense! Surprise ending!
Kristine Baker01/13/12
Gripping story with a twist. Excellent!
C D Swanson 01/13/12
Oh I really liked this one! Nice story telling. It held my attention throughout. I really enjoyed it- nice surprise at the end!

God Bless~
Kristi Huseby01/14/12
This was a great story! Nice job.
Lillian Rhoades 01/15/12
Loved the title! Excellent treatment of the topic.
Did it start well? Your opening sentence caught my attention. In my opinion, I prefer "Stan" rather than "the man". You did a great job of drawing me into the story. Great action and authentic dialogue.

Overall your story was well-crafted, and I loved the clever irony of the last sentence.
wendell a brown 01/16/12
A very subtle message that sin is never hidden from the Lord's eyes! Sometimes people perish because of their sin, and others are given a second chance to turn away from sin...Oh how sweet is the never changing grace we receive from the Lord! Very Nice!
Martha Black01/18/12
This man needs to concentrate on getting well, basking in the love of his wife. Then, as soon as he is able, he needs go to that meeting place with a metal detector and search until he finds the symbol of his commitment to his wife, praying all along that she won't discover it missing before then. Well done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/18/12
This is really good. You did an excellent job approaching the topic in a different way.

I thought Gert was his wife at first. I liked the twist. I wonder if you had put the possible answers he was mulling over in italics if it would have flowed better.

The ending was outstanding! I loved that twist and the open ending.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/18/12
nit-picky red ink: okay should be written out or both letters capitalized :) Great story!
C D Swanson 01/19/12
Congratulations on your ribbon. Nice job.
God bless~
Linda Goergen01/19/12
Great story, Congratulations on your well deserved win!