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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: The Bus Ride to Mania
By Deborah Bauers
09/04/06


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The Bus Ride to Mania

Eleanor idly swiveled the wire rack, grimacing at the tranquil appearance of the scenic postcards as they swung into view. If there was one thing she had learned about the specter of the idyllic, it was that it existed only in the shadows of the mind. Unlike these picture-perfect photos, real life was a birthday party gone bad, an uninvited guest who ruined the magic of all-things-happy-ever-after and gave broken gifts cloaked in the festive wrappings of hopefulness.

Eleanor’s index finger stroked a profusion of wild flowers, resplendent against the dazzling blue of a midsummer sky. Smugly, she contemplated the nasty little hornet that lurked under the fragrant blooms, just waiting to deliver its fiery sting. Her eyes dropped to a second card that contained charcoal reproductions of rustic little cabins; each which most assuredly came with a musty interior and a fireplace that smoked! She grabbed a handful of the remaining cards and briefly held each up to her forehead before hurling a caustic rejoinder and then pitching it to the floor.

“Sea shore--nasty undertow, cruise ship--falling overboard, worse yet, being pushed. Move over, Johnny Carson!” she chortled as if her gyrations were all a part of some macabre stage act designed to both horrify and entertain. She continued; “A snow-covered mountain--avalanche in the making, The Swiss Alps--I hate cheese! A rushing river--”

Eleanor clenched the postcard, hand slightly shaking. She gazed at the photograph, absorbing its content into her essence. “Enough of this stupid game,” she whispered, her voice hoarse with pent-up emotion. She pocketed the postcard before making her way back to the bus.

Clad in lounging pajamas and pink bedroom slippers, Eleanor was a spectacle and the subject of considerable scrutiny. She was scarcely aware that her traveling companions were more-than-a-little nervous about her presence on the bus nor did she realize that her behavior at the last rest stop had confirmed to those around her that she was, indeed, a “crazy woman!” Eleanor had boarded the bus one block east of Sacred Heart Psychiatric Hospital. This was no coincidence!

She read the road sign aloud, “Entrance to Rocky Falls, 1 mile.”

The woman hastily withdrew her postcard, scrutinizing it feverishly. She was certain that she could now see a flash of her son’s red bill cap and catch a glimpse of her husband’s yellow slicker as the little canoe entered the rapids.

“Almost there now!” she panted, her face flushing with the telltale signs of heightened mania.

Putting the postcard to her ear she could hear her husband’s voice yelling above the roar, “Daddy loves you. Now close your eyes tight and take hold of my hand!” Then she watched in horror as the familiar bodies of her husband and eight-year-old son disappeared over the raging falls.

Eleanor was incapable of sorting fact from fantasy. After the accident, her memories had become a vague jumble of struggling with futility, punctuated by the intrusive sounds of someone’s guttural crooning. Six months of treatment had done little to restore her mental state. Her moments of greatest clarity followed weekly attendance at compulsory chapel services where she sang the words to once familiar hymns of faith. There she felt strangely drawn, as if in another life, to the man called, Jesus.

The bus came to a rolling stop. Its occupants stretched their legs and edged mindfully toward the precipice to gaze at the sheer force and magnitude of the mighty waterfall below. Eleanor saw herself in the postcard, paddling a little blue canoe toward the falls. She willed herself to drop the paddle and called upon her demons to be silent. Sightseers were horrified as the “crazy woman” threw herself from the precipice and fell, like a giant rag doll, into the raging waters below. As she plummeted to her death, Eleanor heard a new voice inside her head whispering, “Your Heavenly Father loves you. Now close your eyes tight and take hold of My hand.” When Eleanor opened her eyes, she was home.

_____________________________________________________________

According to a 2004 survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, 31,484 suicides occur each year in the United States, alone. Suicide remains a highly controversial topic within the Christian community. It is this author’s contention that the eternal disposition of a soul that takes its own life due to mental illness is best left in the hands of a loving God who deals with human life according to accountability, culpability, and Divine mercy.


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This article has been read 1245 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sharlyn Guthrie09/07/06
I admire your courage in writing this piece. Your insight and empathy are evident in every word.
Dolores Stohler09/08/06
This was great--excellent writing. And I agree with your views on suicide. We're not called upon to judge the motives and actions of others. That job belongs to God alone for He alone knows our thoughts and can judge with fairness.
Donna Haug09/08/06
Although I did not particularly enjoy this piece, your message was strong and was very well crafted. Food for thought.
Jan Ackerson 09/10/06
Wow--a big "gulp" at the end of this one! What a unique and poignant piece, and very thought-provoking. Well done.
Jesus Puppy 09/10/06
Deffinately an eye opener.. well done Doc.
Kaylee Blake 09/11/06
Wow. I'm not exactly sure what to say. Very well-crafted, that's for sure. I'm sure that I exactly enjoyed it, but can you really enjoy something so dar and true? I respect you for taking on this topic.
Kaylee Blake 09/11/06
What I meant to say was, "I'm NOT exactly sure I enjoyied it..." But I might as well also say that I liked the connection of the postcard, and her husband and son.
Joanne Sher 09/11/06
Extremely well-written. You definitely captured this woman's struggle amazingly well. I commend you also for taking this topic on. It was definitely an eye-opener for me!
Donna Emery09/11/06
A wonderful perspective on this unfortunate womans' turmoil. A very interesting and well-written piece. And yes, it is up to God to judge each person's eternal destination. Thank you for sharing this!
Jan Ross09/14/06
Congratulations on your "Highly Commended" win! This was a bold bit of writing that captured me. I have to admit that I just sat there for a moment when I finished, not quite sure what to think! While I agaree with you 100%, I'm not sure I've ever read anything like this. God bless you as you continue to grow in your gifts and talents! Very, very well done!
Rachel Rudd09/14/06
Hi Deborah,

I don't know if you have PM, so I'll have to leave this as a comment. I was a judge for the river contest. I really thought this piece was excellent. It presented a topic that is normally shied away from in a thought-provoking manner. I just wanted to tell you that you rated number one on my list, both in advanced and overall. I was hoping that this story would make it into the book so more people would hear this message. Anyway, thank you for being brave enough to write this (and for being a fantastic writer!).
May God bless you in all you do!

Love,
Rachel
Joanne Malley09/14/06
Glad I stopped by to read this, Deb. Although dark and depressing, what a way with words you have and of course, insight too! However, it was truly awful to visit the mind of someone so sick. Sad. Well done, though! Blessings, Jo