Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
TITLE: The Two O'clock
By hannah anderson
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He heard her and waited for the walls to close in on him, to feel their suffocating presence press hard against his chest. He expected his hands to start shaking, his heart to beat faster, and a swirl of jumbled memories to fill his head with confused oblivion. But nothing happened; it was not at all like he had imagined.
Instead, everything was painfully clear. He remembered the last few months and knew exactly what had brought them to this point. He wished he didn’t. He wanted to be unable to understand why she would say such a thing, to be shocked. He thought that, somehow, surprise would dull the misery. It would be easier if he didn’t know why they were sitting in this carpeted, wood-paneled office discussing the dissolution of their fourteen-year marriage with a complete stranger.
But he did.
In fact, what he knew now he had known all along. He had known it but had pushed it aside, choosing to lie to himself and to her about what they both saw and understood. She had said “We need help;” he had ignored her. His heart had told him, <I>Something is desperately wrong</I>; but he had listened to his head. His soul had warned him, <I>Reach out to her</I>; but he had silenced it. He realized that there had been a moment when, as difficult as it had seemed then, if he had faced reality, he could have avoided his present misery. And this tormented him, not loosing her or the loneliness, but the knowledge that his misery was pointless, that he could have done something to prevent it but had chosen not to.
Now, sitting with her in this plush office, there was little he could do. She sat frigidly in the chair next to him, facing the counselor. Her answers to the questions were polite and careful, revealing nothing of her previous despair and isolation, nothing of the desperation she had felt when she had realized that their marriage was unraveling and that she was helpless to stop it, nothing of the loneliness that she now experienced. It were as if the last curtain had fallen on the house stage, the lights had been extinguished, and although people still milled about in the lobby talking to each other, nothing of meaning was said and their conversation served only to fill time until they could catch their separate rides to their separate homes. For her, the performance was over.
The counselor, a middle-aged man in a tweed blazer, sat with his ankle resting on his knee, slowly taking it all in. He listened to what each said in response to his questions and heard what they left unsaid too. For him, the charade repeated itself too often; by the time most couples came to see him, their problems couldn’t be solved in forty-five minute sessions.
When their time was up and the couple had left separately, the counselor walked over to his large mahogany desk and picked up the telephone. He pressed several buttons on the keypad and waited as the telephone rang on the other end.
“Yes, I’d like to make a reservation for two… for tonight… yes, um, seven-thirty? That’d be fine…. Oh, it’s for Dr. and Mrs. Jack Morgan…. Great. Thanks again.”
With that, he hung up the telephone and pulled the file for his 3 o’clock.
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