Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: Ice Princess
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Whoa. That was weird. Where did that thought come from? How can I think of men at a time like this? She was at the hospital to see her best friend who was in a coma.
But then Edwina smiled to herself. Maybe that’s Brent? Val had been trying to set her up with him all year, but Edwina had been too busy.
Edwina dabbed at her eyes. Val had been in a freak accident. She’s just 28… They’re newlyweds… Oh, Val, don’t leave me… Please… God, please let her be okay…
Gabe introduced her to his friend Brent. Edwina had sat with Val while Gabe went to call his and Val’s parents. She gave Gabe a hug and turned to go, to give him some time alone with Val. Brent walked out with her.
They returned to the stark waiting room down the hall. “So, you’re her best friend?” said Brent.
Edwina nodded. “We met in third grade…”
“Gabe and I were roommates in college. I moved back to the area late last year. So… you’re the lawyer?”
“Actually, I’m a sociologist, but I’m studying to be a lawyer.”
Brent’s eyes glazed over when she said the L-word. It wasn’t the first time that had happened to her. What is it about lawyers? They’re not all bad, are they?
“Yeah, well, good luck. I told Gabe I’d make some calls for him; update his brothers...”
And with that, he was gone. Sayonara husband...
Some couple we’d make. Aren’t there any kind and caring people left in the world? Edwina felt like she was suffocating. She started to cry. Thirty minutes later she was still slumped in the chair with her head in her hands.
In her peripheral vision she saw a handkerchief floating by her face. She took the proffered hankie and blew into it. After a few more hearty blows, she looked up and saw that the hankie belonged to Brent.
“I thought all lawyers were Ice Princesses.”
“Yeah, well, I’m just a lawyer in training.” They both grinned. “And frankly, I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a lawyer at all.” She dabbed at her eyes with his hankie. “It’s been such an awful year. First school and now this…” She motioned towards Val’s hospital room.
“All work and no play…?”
“Seriously, my professors are the most arrogant people I’ve ever met. And my classmates are all in the running for Ice King and Queen.”
They both chuckled. “Sounds like a fun bunch.”
“Anything but, I thought I could help more people, more kids, by defending them and getting them into the right programs, before it’s too late, before they become hardened criminals... But I’m not even sure I want to go back next year. I feel like I wasted an entire year of my life. I should’ve been hanging out with Val…” And you? “Instead of falling asleep on my law books...”
“Having second thoughts?”
“And third and fourth…” They laughed again. “I just want to help more kids...”
“So, you’re really a Softie Princess.”
Edwina smiled. “I guess…” They talked for hours, about Val, and Gabe, and life… until Gabe joined them.
“She blinked, I think. It’s not much… But she may yet come around. The next 24 hours will tell…”
Gabe and Edwina took turns sitting with Val. Val’s parents, and Gabe’s, were flying in from Florida. Brent came and went, doing errands and bringing food.
The next day Edwina and Brent crossed paths again. As they talked amiably with Gabe, they heard a small, hoarse voice. “Aren’t you going to ask her out?”
They turned to see Val, still groggy, sitting up in bed. They looked at her, startled and relieved, and then they all laughed.
Gabe rushed to his wife’s side. ”Do you know where you are…?”
Val nodded. “I heard everything. I just couldn’t move… Thank you, for keeping me company… I almost didn’t make it. I saw The Light… but just for a second… It was so beautiful, so peaceful… I wanted to go…”
Gabe hugged his bride close, as though he never wanted to let her go.
Then Val turned to look at Edwina and Brent. “Well…?” She cleared her throat. “No time like the present!”
Brent took Edwina’s hand in his.
Edwina squeezed Brent’s hand and told Val, “You didn’t have to almost die to get us together ya know.”
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