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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)

TITLE: Enough
By Amy Michelle Wiley


The red light stared at me, a steady, unblinking eye. It was the digital eye of reality, mocking me, daring me to answer the call, daring me to face life. I picked it up, gripping the warm metal in my clammy hand, covering the light that announced a phone message.

I knew who it was from, even what she would say. Her voice would be cheery as she told me what I would already know from the number displayed on the phone, even before hearing the familiar voice. “This is Mom. What did the doctor say, honey?” Her voice would lower, gentle with a verbal hug. “You know I’ll be on the next plane if you need me. Praying it’s good news, though. Call me back.”

My throat tightened. How could I call her when I couldn’t even breathe, couldn’t even wrap my own mind around the facts? I would have to tell her what the doctor said, relive the moment when he leaned forward and said that one sentence, that one phrase that changed my life.

“You have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.”

My chest had tightened then; had never really loosened, even now. “I have Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” I had wanted my words to end with a question mark. Wanted there to be some doubt. Wanted, oh so badly wanted him to shake his head and tell me I was confusing the terms.

But there hadn’t been a question. I’d known in my gut, even before the doctor had nodded his head and reached to take my hand. I’d listened then, through a fog that only had grown heavier, as he told me what I already knew. “…progressive muscle loss… fatal… wheelchair… feeding tubs… breathing machine…”

“No.” Somehow I’d squeezed the word out. I didn’t want that. Not for me. Not for my family. They didn’t deserve to watch me suffer, slowly dying before their eyes, muscle by muscle. God, please. Please no. I can’t do this.

I sat here now in my little apartment, that red light gleaming between my fingers. Lord, I can’t do this. It was later, maybe even hours later, when the next prayer came. I need You. I need my family. Lord, help me. Help us. The words weren’t much. But they were all I had. And they were enough.

I slipped in a tiny breath and opened my hand. It seemed hard work to pry the phone apart, to flip it open. It only took one button. Return call. I pushed it with a faint click. So simple. So significant.

The phone rang, just as it had hundreds of other times. Normal times. Life-filled times.

“Hi, honey.” She had caller ID, too.

The tears came then, for the first time that day, just as I’d known they would. “Mom.” It was all I could say. All I could manage.

“Sweetheart.” She knew, could tell from one word, one sob. She let me cry, and then prayed for me, the words echoing through the phone, finding their way toward my heart, little by little. When she was done, her voice was only a whisper. “I love you. We’re gonna be here for you, ok? All the way through. I’m here for you, honey.”

It was enough.

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This article has been read 1306 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Gerald Shuler 07/24/08
Incredibly powerful entry. You had me experiencing things I've never felt before. That is the true test of good writing. Well done.

(Side note: If this is a true account my prayers are with you.)
Lynda Schultz 07/24/08
Beautifully done.
Joanne Sher 07/24/08
Amazing descriptions - you put me right there. Excellent - masterful.
Charla Diehl 07/24/08
My heart sank with the MC's at the diagnosis and was glad there was family to turn to--and that mom responded in a meaningful and loving way.
Mariane Holbrook 07/25/08
I'm speechless. I pray, I hope this is not true!
christy osborne07/27/08
Perfect style. Perfect flow, perfect sentence structure, perfect ending. You put just enough emotional language to let me feel it, but not enough to turn me off. Great job!
Joshua Janoski07/27/08
I knew a girl whose father died from ALS. I never really could understand the emotions involved with ALS, but you gave me a small glimpse of how it would feel like to be diagnosed with this horrible disease. Good job drawing the reader in and helping them feel the MC's emotions.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/27/08
Your story was told amazingly well. My heart was breaking for the MC.
Edy T Johnson 07/28/08
This is heartbreakingly real writing. How many haven't sent and received devastating messages via telephone like this. No visual clues to assist communication, one has only ears to hear.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/28/08
How heartbreaking! I especially like your portrayal of the mother/daughter relationship, and the fact that she could finally cry when telling her mom the news.
Joy Faire Stewart07/29/08
I was especially touched by "The words weren't much. But they were all I had. And they were enough." Then to end with, "It was enough." Wonderful smooth, strong writing style.
Catrina Bradley 07/29/08
Wow, you can pack a lot of emotion into your words. Amazing. I love this from beginning to end.
Laury Hubrich 07/30/08
This is very well written and so very true. Great writing!
Rhonda Clark07/30/08
Great job. Very emotion filled.
Carol Wiley07/30/08
Great job of showing the emotion of finding oneself with a terrible disease. Your writing captures the heart of the story so well.
Edmond Ng 07/30/08
A very engaging and touching story with heartbreaking moments expressed so well, moving me almost to tears. The ending brings reasonable comfort to the one in despair, yet deep within, an unspoken sorrow and uncertainty of what lies ahead in the future. Fortunately, the MC in the story has the Lord to rely on and a loving mom. Great piece of written work.
Alice Zvacek07/30/08
Amazing story! My mom recently passed away from ALS. I can say that the emotions are very real. I pray that it's fiction, but it was very real.