Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
TITLE: Paper Airplanes
By dub W
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Nan realized that she was staring at Leonard Schmidt; in fifteen minutes he would turn off his computer for the last time. All of his personal belonging were long ago packed and placed in the trunk of his car; and now he was sitting in his cubicle shaking hands with well-wishers as they walked by. Leonard had been on the copy desk when Nan arrived, and from the speeches made during his retirement party, she noted that he had been doing the same job for 40 years. He had trained her, just as he had trained a dozen or so others at the Herald Picayune, a local newspaper competing in New Orleans.
Leonard walked over to Nan. “Hey kid, gonna miss me?” He teased.
Nan tossed the paper airplane in the wastebasket. “You have got to be kidding, miss the person who pushed me up the ladder, who taught me everything to do to keep out of trouble, and the one who let me cry on his shoulder when I fouled up. Naw, I won’t miss you a bit.” Nan felt a tear welling up in her eye and retrieved a tissue from her desk.
“Well, since you came I haven’t had a day of peace.” Leonard’s twinkle in his eye betrayed his teasing.
Nan clicked her computer and a new screen appeared. She pretended to look at. “Wanna help on a wild story?”
Leonard laughed. “The only wild story I want to work on is driving down Canal Street on my way to a golf course in La Place.” Leonard moved down the row of offices chatting with workers as he went.
Cheryl plodded over to Nan’s desk. “I guess he is really leaving.”
“Yeah, I tried to talk him out of it the other day. We can’t replace him. Lee said, ‘no new hires.’”
Cheryl leaned over and whispered ,”they aren’t even going to move anyone up to his cube.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that. I thought the company might move one of the outside people up.” Nan tapped her mouse. “That means you and I will have to copy edit all the sports and feature stuff. Man.”
“Yeppers.” Cheryl patted Nan on the shoulder. “You’ll love wedding and birth announcements.”
“How about Church announcements?”
“Yeah, you get those too.” Cheryl plodded away.
“Leonard, come back,” Nan cried.
Another airplane landed on Nan’s desk and she stood to find the culprit, but the office was clearing out.
“Hey, Nan. Wanna cup?” Leonard stood grinning by the elevator; in his hands was a folded airplane.
“Okay Leonard, I’ll meet you down stairs.” She quickly closed down her computer turned off her light and rushed to the elevator. Leonard was waiting when the door opened. Minutes later they were sitting at a small café on the edge of the Quarter.
“Nan, I know that leaving now may seem like a hardship on the paper,” Leonard began, “but, the needs of the church are greater right now, and I can be of service.”
“You’re going to write for the church?”
“No, Nan,” Leonard chuckled. “But, I am going to take over some of the visitation, head up a prayer ministry, and be an unofficial assistant pastor.
“Well, that’s cool, but …” she didn’t finish.
“The Lord doesn’t ask us to stop working for him. I have the ability to serve Him full time now, and yes, even on the golf course.”
Nan sipped her coffee. “I guess I understand.”
“We have congregation scattered still, the storm moved good people long distances, I am going to help find them, and minister to the ones we can find.”
“Wow, Leonard, that’s a huge undertaking. “
“I call it God’s retirement plan.” Leonard took a folded paper airplane from his jacket pocket and handed to Nan.
Nan smiled, “Yeah, the benefits are great.”
“Amen to that.”
The airplane sailed across the courtyard.
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