Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: River (08/31/06)
TITLE: The River (ii)
By Durelle Rutledge
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“Honey, just calm down. Put your head between your legs and breathe slowly.”
“Calm down? You calm down! Don’t tell me to calm down. I…”
He put his head down and pushed Carol’s down and held it there. The plane bucked and rolled and tossed in the storm. All he could think about was the week before when he had won the plane tickets at work. It had been so long since they had had a vacation and here was the perfect opportunity! He knew Carol was deathly afraid of flying but he wasn’t about to lose this golden opportunity! His thoughts continued back to the previous week. Nagging, begging, pleading, whatever it took! Until, she finally gave in. Finally, he could get away! Finally, no deadlines, no bottom lines, no worries! How could he have been no selfish? Carol was the one person that had been behind him, no matter what! She was the reason why he’d made it this far! And he knew it!
The plane began to descend and Carol let out a long heart-wrenching wail.
His heart broke. He wished he could turn back time and just be happy with her, the way things were!
The plane pitched and rolled even harder and suddenly picked up speed. He knew they were going to crash and crash hard! He had never been a religious man and hadn’t believed in prayer. But right now, he wondered if God would hear his prayers. He didn’t want to pray for himself. He only wanted Carol to be okay.
“Oooh, my head hurts!” Where was he? What had happened? Suddenly he remembered! “Carol!” She wasn’t in her seat! He must’ve let go of her when the plane crashed! He couldn’t remember and it was hard to think through the pain in his head. He fumbled with the lock on his seatbelt. His hands were shaking.
“Is everybody all right?” One of the flight attendants asked as she stumbled down the aisle, stopping to check passengers for injuries. “Is there a doctor on board? Any medical personnel?” Matthew stopped her as she passed. “My wife, have you seen my wife? She was right here and now she’s gone. Where’s Carol!” “I don’t know, sir”, she said pulling his hand from her arm. “I’ve got to check the rest of the passengers that’s left.” She continued on down the aisle. “….that’s left” rang in his mind. He looked around and realized he was sitting in only a portion of the plane. Where was the rest of it? He rose from his seat in a hurry to find Carol. He worked his way forward checking all the seats. He didn’t find her. He backtracked and started looking in all the seats behind his and Carol’s. About six rows back he found her.
She was half in and half out of the window. He stood there frozen in shock. “God please let her be alive!” He reached for her hand, it felt cold but still he refused to give up hope. He reached for her waist to pull her inside. As he pulled he realized she wasn’t moving. She was caught on something. “It must be her blouse or sweater or something”, he thought. His mind wouldn’t let him think past the obvious. But soon, he couldn’t deny the truth. He let out a moan all the way from his soul! He gently lifted her from the glass she was impaled on and held her in his arms. He sat there rocking and crying. Suddenly, he felt suffocated and knew he had to get outside to breathe. But he couldn’t leave Carol inside, alone. So he lifted her in his arms and carried her outside with him. He knelt as he laid her on the ground. Then he looked up at the sky and asked in an agonized voice, “Why? Is this punishment for me, for all the stuff I did wrong? I’m sorry! Give her back, give her back!”
Matthew sat in his seat and dozed, even though he hadn’t thought it possible. And as he slept, he dreamed. He saw Carol standing on a golden river, flowing up, toward what even he recognized to be heaven. And a voice that said, “She was ready, my son”. In his sleep he cried silent tears.
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