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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)

TITLE: Flip Flops in Yosemite
By Kristen Hester


My passenger offered me no support as I nervously navigated the rental car down the unfamiliar road. The tall pines that lined the narrow highway blocked what little light the moon sliver and stars emitted. I wasn’t sure if my tired eyes were deceiving me, but I saw scurrying animals in every shadow.

I glanced at my husband’s still form and resented that he slept while I tried to find our destination. I stomped on my brakes with a little more force than necessary when I thought I saw a deer dart into my path.

Craig sat up. “Do you have to drive like that?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, “ I said sarcastically. “I should have just hit Bambi.” We simultaneously leaned right when I jerked the steering wheel to avoid another phantom creature.

Craig squinted out the window. “What were you avoiding? There’s nothing there.”

I’d been suppressing frustration for fifty miles while he slept and was happy to finally express my feelings. “I don’t appreciate you going to sleep and leaving me to drive in the dark in a strange state. It’s creepy and lonely.”

Craig sighed heavily. “Pull over and I’ll drive.”

“No, no. You’re sleepy. It would be dangerous,” I said dramatically. We continued on in uncomfortable silence.

When we arrived at Yosemite National Park, we left our car and followed signs down a dimly lit path to the registration office. Craig gave our reservation number to the clerk,“Bart,” while I browsed the brochures. A wall-mounted television played a video that educated tenderfoots like ourselves on bear safety. The images of grizzly-destroyed vehicles did nothing to improve my negative mood. When we’d planned this two-year anniversary trip, I’d envisioned a romantic adventure, but currently I felt only annoyance.

I waited impatiently while Craig, with pen and notepad in hand, got directions and grilled Bart for detailed information on the park and activities. After he’d milked Bart for all he knew, we made our exit. We stumbled in the dark like two strangers to our primitive shelter, a canvas structure on a wooden platform. As I shone my flashlight around our residence for the week, I dreaded the next six days. There was one bed, but no electricity or bathroom. Without speaking, I put on my flannel pajamas and climbed into bed.

“Would you know where my sweat pants are?” Craig asked.

The dark hid my gigantic eye roll. “They’re in your suitcase. Would you like me to get up and fish around in your bag for them or can you do that?” My tone was icy.

“Never mind. I just thought since you insisted on packing...”

I feigned sleep as Craig climbed in beside me. The cool, autumn air was the perfect temperature for cuddling, and I was almost tempted for the body warmth, but my irritation kept me hugging the edge of the cold mattress.

I swallowed back tears as I pondered the state of my marriage. I respected and loved my Godly husband and knew I didn’t want a divorce, but I was sad my heart no longer did flip flops when he smiled at me. I determined I had two options. I could continue to be miserable and focus on the things Craig did that bothered me, or I could choose to accept him. I thought of his messy habits, his awful fashion sense, and his obnoxious obsession with details. Then I recalled my own imperfections and was convicted. I didn’t want a miserable marriage, so I had only once choice. Lord, help me to accept Craig just as he is and to love him unconditionally.

When I woke the next morning Craig was already dressed in a mismatched outfit, but I held my critical tongue.

“Are you ready for breakfast?,” he asked. “I know where to go.”

Of course you do. “Sure.” I got dressed, then headed outside where Craig waited. “Wow,” I said reverently when I viewed the scenery. I’d been unaware of the panoramic beauty surrounding us when we arrived in the darkness, but in the light of day it took my breath away.

“Yea, it’s gorgeous.” Craig was bent over with his back to me, I assumed tying his shoes.

Gazing at the majestic mountains, I began my apology. “Craig, I’m really sorry about last night.”

Craig stood up and faced me, extending a bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers. “Me, too,” he said with a tender smile.

I accepted the flowers and felt a tiny flip flop in my heart.

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This article has been read 691 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 05/28/09
The title intrigued me and the story did not disappoint. Nicely done.
Mona Purvis05/29/09
Very realistic. I could feel the aggravation of the MC. My husband will sleep when I drive; but he makes sure I don't. Guess I'll accept it too. Enjoyed the mood.
Laury Hubrich 05/29/09
O man - that's what I want again after 26 years of marriage - flip flops. Great job!
Joanne Sher 05/30/09
Oh - I like it! Great characterization and a fun little romance.
Jan Ackerson 06/02/09
I suspect that this will shoot a few darts into more than one reader. Thanks for writing it. Excellent voice, just the right touch of humor and pathos.
Patricia Herchenroether06/03/09
Realistic thoughts and dialogue that kicked in memories. The best solution, too. Great story.
Gregory Kane06/03/09
Wow, what a powerful piece - painful and humorous at the same time. I loved the shadowy animals and the catty retorts. I felt that you nailed the mail psyche extremely well.
My one quibble - and this is really minor - was that I found it a bit odd the way that you referred first to your 'passenger' and shortly after to your 'husband' For a moment, I wondered if there were more than two person in the car. I suspect you did so to convey a sense of unease and frustration with Craig, but it could be read differently. Very well done.
Colin Swann06/04/09
Absolutely delightful. Haven't we marrieds all been there. Rekindled love - very romantic. Loved it and perfectly writter (or nearly).

Rachel Rudd 06/04/09
This is a great story! You drew me in with your characterization and your plot. Very well-written! I love good marriage stories.
Lollie Hofer06/04/09
All of us married folks could certainly relate to this story. You have a wonderful gift for story-telling, I was hooked from the very beginning. Thanks for sharing so honestly. I enjoyed the humor and the flip flop at the end. You're one of my favorite authors and you did an awesome job once again.