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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: New Year (05/09/05)

TITLE: Goodbye Old Fellow
By Judy Anderson


The world was lost in a blur of unfocused images; trees, buildings, people, whole cities seemed to vanish quickly outside the window of the train. Maybe too quickly, he thought. Was he ready? Saying this final goodbye seemed impossible, even with these last two months behind him.

Heading home was frightening and exhilarating. The combination was unsettling. His mind moved from an uneasiness and forlorn worry of the future to an excitement he hadn't felt in years, if ever. Could this be a new beginning?

The hunger for a new life echoed with the growl of his stomach. At least one hunger could be satisfied now. He rose slowly and headed in the direction of the dining car. It was early for dinner and the waiter came immediately to his table.

"Can I get you something to drink sir?"

A first test. "Just water, please, and a roast beef sandwich."

He breathed a heavy sigh as the waiter moved fluidly away through the car.

He noticed a group of men sharing cocktails a short distance away. Loud conversation and laughter reverberated through the almost empty car. Memories came flooding back. The fog he had lived in for thirty years had begun to lift through these last two monhts. Pictures from his past coursed through his brain over and over again.

He so hoped the secretive life was now behind him. Shame, however, remained. These men reminded him of the many trips away from his home. Business trips combined with work and with pleasure. The pleasures of the flesh, lusts never satisfied. That temporary and insane darkness he had lived in for so long. He put his head in his hands. Could he accept forgiveness?

As the waiter left again, he grasped his water glass tightly. This was the first time in sixty days he had been alone. It would be so easy for him to begin a conversation with the group only steps away. He was a veteran of the casual conversation, the recognition of those living the life. So easy.

He started to rise, and he sat back down.

After a call to Tim, he breathed another deep sigh. One step at a time. His head bowed almost as a reflex and he prayed to the God he had turned away from for so long.

"Dear God," he whispered, and a simple, "Please."

He ate his sandwich and walked past the familiar group.

Finally he walked up another familiar path, past the hostas and solar lights. He pulled the key from his pocket and entered his home. He knew no one would be home. He wanted to unpack and gain courage before meeting with his family.

The house felt empty and again, the fear fell upon him. He stopped to look in the mirror.

"Goodbye old fellow," he said out loud. No longer the life of the party. No longer filled with hidden things and dark corners. So long, man on the move, encompassed in a desperate world.

He would grieve that life he supposed for awhile. It was all he knew. Yet, he prayed that man would never return.

The shell remained. The mirror reflected the outer man, hollow-eyed and full of doubt. But somehow deep inside there shone a glimpse of light, a glimmer of hope. The once blurred image, finally clear.

Now ready for the potter's hand. Who will he become? He will find out one minute at a time, hour after hour, day by day, until the next year, a brand-new year. His sponsor, Tim, had told him that the Creator sees him not as he is, but as what he will become.

Behind him he spots his wife. She looks at him, not with anger or condemnation, but with unfailing love and open arms. He turns. Tears fill his eyes. He has never cried in front of her. He falls into the arms of forgiveness, and feels the hands on his back. Those hands of unceasing prayer, clasped in the faith he once ridiculed and now desires. He never understood that kind of love. He takes a step back to look into her eyes and grasps those praying hands of hope and a future.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKFV)

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This article has been read 937 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dixie Phillips05/16/05
Thanks to Calvary I am not the one I used to be. Wonderful job!
Karen Deikun05/16/05
This was a super job. You could almost feel his thirst and the strength of his resolve. It feels so very real.
Val Clark05/16/05
The character's pain, needs, desires and spiritual journey were well portrayed.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/20/05
I'm surprised this one doesn't have more comments. Excellent job! Love the idea of an alcoholic struggling on New Year's Eve - one of the heaviest drinking nights of the year.
Great writing!
Blessings, Lynda
dub W05/20/05
yeah, this says it.
Suzanne R05/21/05
Beautiful. I agree - the way you've painted the character is great.
Linda Germain 05/22/05
I love how he "falls into the arms of forgiveness." Perfect picture.
darlene hight05/22/05
Excellent! Excellent entry. This is really a powerful story of perfect love and redemption.
Lois Jennison Tribble05/23/05
Touching portrayal of a sober subject, Judy. Excellent writing, until "Behind him he spots his wife. . ." At that point you lose momentum, stepping outside the story to tell instead of show, as if gushing out the remainder before being stopped by the word count at the finish line. NONETHELESS, I love the story and your take on this topic -- Congratulations on your well-deserved inclusion in the anthology! -- Lois