Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)
TITLE: Faded Butterflies
By Andrea Cooper
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“How are we doing today, Cora?” She asked.
Cora frowned. Why did she ask how "we" were doing? Didn’t she know? Lifting her head higher on the pillow, Cora answered, “I am doing just fine, thank you.”
The woman pulled up a chair next to the bed and began poking and prodding, pumping her arm until Cora thought it might explode. Then, she wrote her results in a chart bound in a red binder. When that was finished, she counted out six or eight tiny pills and handed them to Cora with a Dixie cup half-full of water. Cora didn’t know what the pills were for. Was there something wrong with her? Was she sick?
Swallowing, she looked at the woman who was staring at her intently. “I need to ask you some questions, Cora. Are you up for it?”
“Depends on what the questions are?”
The young woman chuckled and made a note in the binder. “Our usual ornery self, are we?”
“I don’t know. Am I?”
“Alright, Cora. First question—what is your full name?”
“Isn’t it somewhere in those charts you have?”
“Yes, but I need to know if you know your name.”
“Of course I know my own name.” Cora snapped, but she soon frowned when she realized she wasn’t sure anymore. Closing heavy, weathered eyelids, she raked her mind in fierce concentration. “Cora…Anne…Johnson. I think.”
“Correct. And how old are you?”
Cora’s frown deepened. “Well, how old are you?”
“I am far older than that.”
The young woman was looking at her charts and writing. “Do you know where you are?”
“At home, I hope. Isn’t this my home?”
“Yes. It is.” She reached for a silver-framed picture and held it up before Cora. “Do you know who these people are in this picture?”
A beautiful couple—young—were nestled deep in each other’s arms. Cora stared at the faded black and white photograph. The woman was slender with long blonde hair cascading down her back. She was smiling up at the strong, tall man that was holding her in his arms. It was the man that held Cora’s attention. He was so handsome…so very strong and capable.
Cora closed her eyes against hot tears that built up in her eyes. She didn’t know why she was crying. All she knew was that her heart was breaking.
“Cora? Do you know who these people are?”
“No…” she whispered.
“Try to remember. Try to think back to the day this picture was taken.”
Cora searched her mind but it seemed that she was racing through endless corridors that led to dead ends. She desperately wanted to know whom those people were that looked so terribly in love and young. She knew in her heart that she should know, but the memory was simply not there.
From outside Cora’s room, a handsome elderly man stood leaning against the wall. He had hoped, prayed, and wished that she would one day remember, but it would seem the day was not to come. Not today, anyway. He remembered the day he had held Cora in her arms when the picture was taken. It was their honeymoon, some forty-five years ago.
“Cora,” the nurse was speaking, “are you sure you cannot remember who these people are?”
“No.” Came the haunting answer. “Please…leave me alone.”
The nurse walked from the room and smiled sadly at Daniel Johnson, her employer. “I’m sorry.” She said softly. Then she was gone.
Daniel rounded the corner and stared at his wife tucked in the center of their bed. How long had it been since she had looked up at him with familiar eyes?
"Lord," he quietly prayed. "I miss her. Times come when I want to get angry with you for allowing this to happen. But I know it will pass. When we’re together again, strolling the streets of gold, all this will be but a memory."
His heart longed to go to his wife and press a tender kiss to her forehead, but he didn’t dare.
"Give me the strength, Lord, to cling to that promise."
And he walked away.
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