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: Beyond Closed Doors
By Jeanie Pinkston
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Now, though, she was gazing at the den. Bits of wrapping paper, tinsel, and glitter winked at her from the carpet. Empty boxes and wrapping paper needed to be put away. Christmas CDs and DVDs were strewn about the entertainment center. Stockings hung limply from the mantel. Past the den, bedrooms waited to be straightened, vacuumed, and dusted. And she didn’t want to think about cleaning bathrooms or washing sheets and towels. In short, the house was a wreck.
Laurie wanted—needed—order from the chaos but her enthusiasm was zapped. “I’ll clean the den and our room today,” she thought, “and close the doors to the other bedrooms. The kids probably won’t be home again till spring break. Those can wait,” she rationalized. “Jeff won’t mind—at least I’m not asking for his help,” she thought as she made her way down the hall. After stashing rolls of wrapping paper and empty boxes in one bedroom, she closed bedroom doors and set about hastily cleaning areas in plain sight.
When she finished, she surveyed the job. “Not bad,” she said with hesitation in her voice. She knew that, while the surface looked clean, the dust-bunny- truth was lurking behind each closed door. At first, it was difficult to ignore the messy rooms—they called out each time she passed by, but it got easier. She was busy with work, and when she got home at night she refused to think about the dust bunnies, although she knew they were secretly multiplying behind the closed doors.
It was Valentine’s Day when Kaitlyn called with exciting news. “Mom, Jon David asked me to marry him! We want to come in tomorrow to show you and Dad the ring!”
Immediately, Laurie thought of the mess at home but she didn’t want to say anything to dampen Kaitlyn’s joy. “Of course, of course—sure! We can hardly wait! Congratulations, Honey!”
“Great! We’ll leave as soon as classes end tomorrow. We’ll be there by the time you get home from work. Can we spend the weekend and start planning the wedding?”
“We’d love that. We’ll see you about five. Be careful driving in!” Laurie said. After sharing the good news with Jeff, mild panic began setting in.
“YAK!” she said aloud.
After work, she was hurrying home to make good on her six-week-old promise to clean house when she saw a patrolman do a quick U-turn and signal her to pull over. Had she run a traffic light or had she been speeding? With thoughts going in so many different directions, she didn’t know. Her heart was pounding—it had been years since she’d had a traffic ticket.
“Can I see your license and registration, Ma’am?” the officer asked.
Laurie handed them over. “What did I do, Officer?” she asked.
“I clocked you at 50. The speed limit here is 35.”
She felt like sliding under the seat but knew it wouldn’t help.
Speeding ticket in hand, she opened the back door, walked into the kitchen and laid it on the counter for confession time later. She tried to think of where to start. Her head pounded with a tension headache, and she wished she’d not become so proficient at ignoring closed doors. “Aspirin first,” she thought and headed for the medicine cabinet.
When Jeff arrived, she confessed the ticket and then her predicament. “With the amount that ticket will cost, you could’ve hired someone to help clean our house three times,” he chided gently. Then, he joined her in the work. He changed the beds and started the wash while she cleaned the bathroom. She was stunned to find mold growing in the shower and scrubbed tile for an hour. When she passed a guestroom, Jeff was stacking boxes in a closet. The washing machine and dryer churned and buzzed repeatedly. By midnight, things were finally presentable.
Falling into bed, Jeff whispered, “Next time you try to just close the doors on a problem, promise you’ll ask for help—okay?”
“I promise,” she said. And she meant it.
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