Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)
TITLE: Call Waiting
By Tim Pickl
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“Who’s on the phone?” Dad roared from his office downstairs.
“I’m using it, dad.” I shot back from my second floor bedroom.
“Well, hang up soon, Molly. I’m waitin’ for a call.”
Dutifully, I hung up my phone.
It was a daily routine that summer after High School graduation: I talked on the phone for hours with Ben; Dad would get mad, we’d hang up for awhile; and, as soon as Dad left, we’d get on the phone again. Eventually, Dad would get so frustrated, he’d let me see a movie with Ben.
I think we saw every movie released.
Ben was WONderful to me. We talked on the phone. We talked in the car. We talked under the stars—often until very late at night. I was so focused on him and the great time we were having, that I buried the harsh reality that the fantastic dream was all going to end when summer was over.
Ben had to leave August 22 to move away to college. That day came fast--way too fast. My phone rang once that morning, and didn’t ring again—it was Ben: it was our secret signal to meet at the park as soon as possible.
It was urgent.
The rest of that hot afternoon went in slow motion, like a nightmare scene in one of those “B” movies we sat through. Ben asked me to me sit next to him on one of the worn wooden park benches. It was obvious to me that something was wrong – his eyes told me the story.
He had been crying.
“I have to tell you something, Moll.”
“What’s goin’ on, Ben?” What’s up?”
“This is hard.” He paused, swallowed, looked toward heaven, and continued. “I have to say goodbye.”
“Oh, I know—“
“No, no, no--you don’t. We have to…. break up.”
“But, Ben –“
“It’s not going to work. We’ll be too far apart.”
My heart shattered.
Twenty-nine years later, my Dad passed away during bypass surgery after his second heart attack. I was assigned the job to clean out our old house. There, on a sunny Sunday morning, in the back of a dark closet in my old bedroom, I discovered boxes with old photos of me, Ben, my first diary—and my old hot pink phone. I picked it up, and turned it over in my hands, smiling, remembering the good times I had with Ben. Since that fabulous summer so long ago, I battled the compounding darkness of low self-esteem and depression.
Ben was the love of my life.
Pink phone in hand, I went downstairs into Dad’s office, opened the oak door, and laughed-out-loud. Mounted on the opposite wall of his big mahogany desk was a brand new flat-panel 42” HDTV.
Dad became a dedicated Christian after mom’s losing battle with breast cancer. One of his favorite things was to have the Christian Satellite Network (CSN) on in the background while he worked.
Curious, I picked up the remote control on the desk, and pressed the power button. Instantly the television’s clear picture showed a live CSN church service. A number to call for prayer scrolled across the screen.
Then, something amazing happened.
“We’re so happy to have a guest preacher with us this morning.”
I was about to power it off—
--but, I dropped the remote control. Ben walked to the pulpit, thanking everyone. Fascinated, I sat in Dad’s leather chair and watched.
He preached from the heart of God.
“What are you facing in your life? I know there is someone here today who is facing the Giant named Depression. Jesus is the way. He’s reaching to you right now, waiting--just waiting for you to answer.” Ben pulled out his cell phone to make a point. “But, it’s like He’s saying, Who’s on the phone? I love you so much--why won’t you answer MY call?”
“You have a call waiting on your life.”
I looked at my old pink telephone, then up to heaven, and whispered, “I’m sorry, Lord.” Tears welled up in my eyes; fell off my face, dripping on the blotter. I put my head down, and repented of my sins.
Was that my Father’s hand I felt on my shoulder when I later dialed the number I saw on the screen?
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