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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Different
By Connie Dixon


Alexis didn’t look very happy to see me. It had been more than five years since we’d been together. She’d made it pretty clear then that she wasn’t interested in associating with me. I didn’t blame her, I’d been such a jerk. I was the kind of guy who gets what he wants, then dumps the girl for no apparent reason. Only this time, I was the one that got dumped.

Now that our paths were about to cross, I thought it might be less awkward if we met ahead of time, instead of going through that initial shock at the funeral. Alexis’ older sister was married to my brother, Bob. Over the years, we both managed to avoid any family gatherings that might cause us to see one another…until now. There was no way either of us could miss this event - my big brother’s memorial service.

Alexis stepped out onto the porch and pulled the door closed behind her, not wanting to reveal anything about her personal life. This meeting was my idea and she’d pointed out that she was meeting only for the sake of the family. It had nothing to do with any goodwill toward me.

She casually leaned back against the door frame and folded her arms, giving me that ‘I hate your guts but I’m listening look. She waited for me to break the ice. I could see she wasn’t going to humor me with small talk.

I motioned to the two chairs on the porch, “Do you think we could sit down for a couple minutes?”

“Is this going to take long Jim, because I have a lot going on right now? Can you just say what you need to say and let’s move on?”

I sensed the bitterness within her, but there was a sadness too, maybe a bit of a softened heart. Her anger diminished a little as she looked down, away from my anxious pleading.

“Look Jim, it’s just that…well, it’s been a long time, and I really have nothing to say to you. You got what you wanted, and that didn’t include me! And now, you come here expecting something, expecting me to…”

“Alexis, I don’t expect anything from you, I was just hoping that maybe we could talk, you know…get some things out in the open.”

“You mean like explaining why you cheated on me and started dating my best friend behind my back. You mean like begging for forgiveness for having a baby with someone who never even wanted to get married or have kids. You mean…”

“Alexis, stop, please…stop. Please sit down…”

She glanced over at the padded Adirondack chairs and back at me. She hesitated, then walked over and took a seat.

“Ok, I’m listening.”

I sat in the chair next to hers and leaned in toward her. She still wore the same perfume and for an instant, it took me back five years.

“I know that saying I’m sorry isn’t going to fix anything, but I need you to hear this from me. I am sorry, I am so sorry!”

My voice started to crack as I felt a tear roll down my cheek and get lost in my unshaven face. She looked up, a little taken back at my newfound sensitivity, compassion creeping out past her resentment.

“I was so stupid. I don’t have an excuse – I was a self-centered, egotistical idiot. I wanted what I wanted and you wouldn’t give it to me, so I went to someone who would. I’m so sorry I hurt you. I didn’t know how to love you. You didn’t deserve to be treated that way.”

Her eyes met mine with a questioning look.

“I just wanted you to know that I finally learned what love really is. I found it the day I looked into my newborn son’s eyes and held him to my chest. It was at that instant when I truly understood the meaning of love.”

Tears formed in her eyes as she looked away.

“Brenda left me two months ago. She took Brandon with her - 1,200 miles away - to live with her parents. Alexis, I have never known such pain as having my son torn from me. I had never experienced the heartbreak of being rejected by someone I love…until now. I’m not asking you to forgive me and I’m not looking for sympathy. I just wanted you of all people to know…I’m different now.”

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This article has been read 570 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kendra Bacus05/21/09
Thank you for telling a story of how anyone can change, and that with true conviction, expecting nothing in return, we can ask for forgiveness. The great part of us asking God for forgiveness....we can expect something in return!!! Eternity with him! I want more to the story.....
Margaret Gass05/21/09
I, too, want more of the story. I was drawn into Jim's story from the first line. You've done a great job with point of view, and your last line leaves the reader imagining Alexis's response.

(One small technical detail gave me momentary pause...when Alexis begins her questioning of Jim, I would think that her questions would gradually be more pointed, as her hurt comes through in her voice. Some of that was lost for me on the first read because those sentences end with a period instead of question marks.)

I also like your title, especially in light of that last line. Good job! :-)
Joy Faire Stewart05/25/09
The dialogue is very realistic making me feel part of the scene. I like that it was left open for the reader to draw conclusions. Excellent writing.
Joy Bach 05/25/09
Such excellent writing! You drew me in and I stayed there. Very good job.
Patricia Herchenroether05/25/09
Really great dialogue; very realistic. I would like to know more about these two mcs.
Mona Purvis05/25/09
Passion, pain, growth, pride, hope. All come across so well and leave me wondering which one wins out.
Betty Castleberry05/26/09
This reads like an excerpt from a longer work; one I'd like to read, in fact. Well-written. Thumbs up.
Lyn Churchyard05/27/09
Definitely worthy of an extension. Connie, you wrote from the male perspective beautifully. I'd love to read more.