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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Weary (05/03/12)

TITLE: Holding On
By Michelle Boyd Waters


Slowly, the world around Anne came into focus and the first thing she noticed was the cup of ice water on the tray across her hospital bed. She desperately wanted to reach out and pour the cool liquid down her parched throat, but the trembling muscles in her arms wouldn't obey.

How long had she been in the hospital this time? She looked around, and saw May 7 on the whiteboard, along with a name written in flowery curlicues she couldn't quite read. "Must be the nurse," she thought. Maybe the nurse could help her with the water.

If her husband, Billy, had been there, he could have helped her. Not that he would have. She made sure she didn't ask him for anything. Not after he'd hurt her.

She remembered the day clearly. They'd been sitting at the kitchen table, early morning light streaming through the white curtains over the sink, dust motes dancing in the beams. She ate her daily poached egg and he read the paper while finishing up the toast he'd used to sop up over-easy egg juice. She stared at the wall of newspaper he held up between them. They'd been chatting idly about the kids and their plans for the weekend -- when it happened.

At first, she'd been too shocked to say anything. But after a few minutes, she decided to wait and see how long it took him to notice her pain.

She waited patiently, but soon, she realized the dishes weren't getting done. Or the ironing. Or the sweeping.

Hmph, she thought and got up with a flounce of her skirt and a toss of her long, dark hair. She stacked their plates together, barely waiting for him to take the last bite of toast, and piled them in the sink with a clatter guaranteed to wake the neighbors. She scrubbed furiously, starting with the forks and making her way through the plates, glasses, countertops and backsplash. Anne washed down the cabinet doors and gave her wrist a little extra flick as she popped them closed. Maybe he'd notice something was wrong.

She'd finished collecting the breakfast dishes when he folded up his paper, grabbed his briefcase, brushed her cheek with his lips and left for work as if nothing had happened. Right then, she decided that if she didn't have anything nice to say, she wasn't going to say anything at all.

Over the next few days, Anne cleaned house until it could have been on Martha Stewart television. She washed dishes, scrubbed the floors, washed behind the kids ears and bandaged their scraped knees. But inside, a fog engulfed her mind. Sure, she discussed mundane matters, such as who was going to take which child to what ball practice or dance recital, or the latest in the presidential election, or if they had the money for her to buy that dress on sale. But she kept her heart to herself, protected her wound, refused to let him see it. And inside she seethed.

A few months later -- how many, she couldn't count -- she tried to ask him about that day, but he shrugged her off. The silence that had been so deafening now seemed impenetrable. And when had her stomach started hurting so much?

As Anne nursed the wound in her heart, the pain in her belly grew. She stayed home more, enjoyed life less. And the years rolled by -- until today when she couldn't reach the blasted water.

Finally, a lady who must be the nurse poked her head around the door to the hospital room and gave Anne a thousand-watt smile.

"Hey, you!" the lady gushed. "Glad to see you're awake. Are you ready for a drink of water? You sure have been thirsty since your surgery."

"Wish Billy would have been here to help me," Anne grumbled. "He never did help me like he should. I don't know why he didn't love me..."

"Oh, Mom," the lady said gently. "Daddy did too love you. He loved you very much."

"Well, why isn't he here?" Anne asked petulantly.

"He's been gone 10 years, Mom," the lady said, as she stroked Anne's long, gray hair. "You've been mad at Daddy for 50 years. When are you going to let go? Aren't you tired?"

Anne nodded her head. She was tired, so very tired.

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This article has been read 225 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Glynis Becker05/12/12
I had a bit of a problem following the storyline. I'm not entirely sure what happened. Your descriptions and word choices are very nice. Thank you for sharing!
Laury Hubrich 05/12/12
You showed what happens when someone holds onto anger, for sure. What a sad, sad picture. Sad that, even when the woman can't remember her own daughter, she can remember the hurt. This may be weak on topic but you wrote well. Nice job.
C D Swanson 05/12/12
Awww...This was touching and moving. The memories of her youth were vivid in her mind's eye. Sounds like the woman had Alzheimer's or some form of dementia. Her mind locked into the past and not knowing the daughter said it all.

You did a wonderful job portraying the MC and the internal conflict within her mind. Loved this...poignant and profound.

God Bless,

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/13/12
This is such a beautiful story. You did such a nice job developing the character and building the suspense. It's quite creative too. A delightful read.
Mildred Sheldon05/14/12
This was a very poignant story about holding on to past hurts. They grow into montrous heartaches and heartbreaks. Thank you for sharing and God bless.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/14/12
I was a bit confused at first because I'd assumed physical abuse rather than an emotional fault. But I figured it out and then it was very poignant. How badly holding a grudge hurts us!
lynn gipson 05/15/12
holding on to the pain is what I did best. Thank you for this, it reminded me again what anger held inside does. I love this.
Graham Insley05/17/12
Powerful reminder of the damage done by carrying a grudge. For me, I would have preferred to see that it was just the result of Alzheimer rather than something carried for fifty years. Man, how horrid those years must have been.

Well written and thank you.