Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)
TITLE: A DOMINOS EFFECT
By Marita Vandertogt
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Jeremiah Jones never smiled. Said he didn’t want to, had no reason to. Though his daughter Eva caught him once, or at least she thought she did, about 20 years ago, staring up at the sky, his head resting on the back of the old yellow rocker. The corners of his mouth turned slightly up, which, according to townsfolk, would have been almost impossible, since Jeremiah’s face was frozen into a permanent frown, the wrinkles drawn deep down toward his neck, like a cartoon tree trunk.
But he never smiled. Don’t really have any reason to, he’d say, if anyone ever commented. Smiling means you’re happy, and I just ain’t happy. And he’d close his eyes and lay his head on the back of the rocker and move, in slow rhythmic motions, the sound of the wood on wood a gentle crunching in his ears, his old body molded deep into the chair and wait for Eva to bring him his afternoon tea.
But Jeremiah Jones didn’t always not smile. At one time life was good and his face held nothing but the round cheek boyish looks that a constant grin gave him. He was happy all the time.
He was happy as a boy rolling around bales of hay and picking straw out of his pockets on hot summer afternoons on the farm. And he was happy as a young man, when he met her, smiling, off in the distance, the colour of her hair like the wheat he grew up around.
And he was most happy when they finally walked the aisle and said I do, her hand snugly fitting into his..
Jeremiah Jones smiled when his daughter Eva was born, when her fingers curled around his own, holding tight. He smiled when Joshua, and then Michael came into their lives. And every night, when the sun disappeared from the western sky, he would sit with Elizabeth in front of the fire. They would read and pray together, and in the warm glow of the firelight, would weave their fingers together and create one hand, extending it upward in a symbol of thankfulness to a God who blessed them with so much.
Until one day.
Elizabeth didn’t see the car coming through the intersection. Josh and Michael sat in the back seat, singing a song too loud for their mother’s ears, and she turned around, for just a split second, to quiet them down, just long enough to not see the truck.
Jeremiah Jones didn’t smile again, from that day on. Had no reason to, he’d tell people. The God of his blessings had cheated him. Smiling people are trusting people, he’d say. And I don’t trust Him no more.
And Eva lived the shadow life around him from that day on. Her own face drawn, afraid to betray his grief with any joy of her own, eventually turning down a proposal of marriage and a chance to live her life outside the walls of a very small town. I have to take care of him, was her explanation. After all, she’d say, her head bent down when she spoke about it, I didn’t die in that crash. I wasn’t even there. God must have spared me to take care of him, and that’s what I’m doing.
Years passed in the quiet home, and eventually Jeremiah Jones passed on. He never went back to the God of his blessings with Anna. Some say it was most understandable. And on the day of his burial, Eva placed a small bouquet of orange and yellow marigolds on his grave with a very odd note. “I guess I wasn’t enough” attached to the vase. That same day she moved away. Nobody knows where to.
Jeremiah Jones made a choice a lot of years ago, and eventually that choice made him. But it didn’t stop with just him. The choice made Eva as well.
And it could have been so different.
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