Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)
By Joy Faire Stewart
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It seemed to ring dozens of times that day. Friends offered support. A radio station picked us at random to participate in a music survey. An aluminum siding telemarketer was especially persistent. Each call sent my heart racing as I waited for my husband, Chad, to answer and then give me the thumbs-up or thumbs-down signal.
“Let’s just go into the house,” I sighed. “I’ll occupy myself till . . . ”
The piercing ring of the phone sent Chad racing to answer. He shook his head in response to my questioning look. “No, Leona, we haven’t heard anything yet . . . yes, she’s holding up okay . . . please tell everyone we appreciate their prayers.”
I stalked into the house, so preoccupied with frustration, I almost tripped over a large object in the foyer. Earlier that morning, I had braved the steamy confines of the attic where colonies of silverfish and spiders thrived, to retrieve an old, faux-leather suitcase. The plan had been to pack away some winter clothes, but now, I kicked the grimy suitcase wishing I could pack away my turmoil.
Chad drew me to the sofa, trying to still my fingers as they plucked threads from the cushions. I gazed at the tangled threads. “There’s enough thread here to knit a scarf.”
“Well, maybe a small one,” he kissed my nails, bitten to the quick.
Chad and I had been married nearly a year. From the beginning of our relationship, he had accepted and loved my daughter, Jolee, giving her unconditional love her biological father, Ray, had not.
I marveled when Jolee invited Chad to her tea parties. “No, Daddy,” she admonished, “You hold the cup this way.” He tried to mimic her delicate fingers only to have the small, plastic cup slip from his calloused hand.
Jolee was always in motion, except while asleep or when Chad counted the freckles sprinkled across her tiny nose, telling her each was worth a million dollars.
Ray never remembered Jolee at Christmastime or her birthday. He told friends I wouldn’t allow him to visit or phone her. The saddest part of all was that he had never seen her.
For the second time that morning, I washed his-and-her coffeepots. (Chad likes regular coffee, but my weakness is Georgia-pecan flavored). I began cleaning out the refrigerator, unaware I had thrown all the contents into the garbage except for the ketchup, until Chad said, “Honey, I really did want that tuna and spinach casserole!”
It felt good to laugh. Then, I jumped when the phone rang again.
“Mom, we haven’t heard anything yet,” Chad gazed at his watch. “But he still has three hours and 22 minutes . . . hold on a sec, you can tell her.”
“Hi, Mom,” I gripped the receiver. “No, I’m not doing very well.”
“This Bible verse helped me this morning, and it might help calm you, too,” she began to read. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
God gives us special people in our lives—Mom is one of mine.
The house was unbearably quiet the rest of the afternoon. Chad caught me staring at the phone.
“Honey, a watched phone ain’t gonna ring!”
“A watched pot doesn’t boil,” I retorted.
The clock on the fireplace mantel chimed . . . three . . . four . . . five o’clock. The time had ended.
At 5:14, the phone rang. I held onto the kitchen counter for support, watching Chad lift the receiver as if in slow motion. Tears streamed down his face.
“Yes, I understand . . . thank you for calling.” Slowly, he turned and stared into my eyes, both calloused hands slowly rose into a thumbs-up sign as a broad grin spread across his face.
“Ray didn’t contest my adoption of Jolee,” his voice broke. “Tomorrow morning, the judge will sign the order making me her legal dad.”
Outside, a gentle breeze stirred the tiny bells once more.
Bible Scripture: Hebrews 10:36 (KJV)
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