Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
TITLE: Be Thou Ravished
By Marita Thelander
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She stood in the shower, no song in her heart to hum, yet the rhythm of the water on her head drummed an infinite solo.
A not-so-middle-aged face stared at her from the mirror in need of help in order to be presentable in public. The bags under her eyes only defined the wrinkles that magically appeared overnight. Or so it seemed.
I’m still young. Doris pulled herself away from the mirror and slipped her shirt over her rounded figure. Keys in hand she headed for the door before the large empty spaces in her home screamed her insignificance for all to hear.
She had no idea she would feel this way when her last child stretched her wings and moved out of state to college.
Pictures of toddlers turning into men and women mocked her from the hallway wall. Faces of babies that resembled her oldest child soothed her momentarily and bittersweet tears threatened to test her waterproof mascara.
A note on the table caught her eye. Can you take care of these?
“Oh Lord,” Doris whispered, “I’ve been so self-absorbed. Help me shake this.”
She scooped up the envelopes and shoved them in her purse relieved to have a reason to leave the house. A quick glance in her rearview mirror assured her that the minivan seats were empty, yet didn’t she just hear a child’s voice? I’m going crazy
Two short errands later…Well, that was hard. Doris’ sarcastic comment to herself caused her stomach to churn. Loneliness overwhelmed her. Not ready to return to the empty house, she pointed her van towards her favorite coffee shop.
“I’ll have a blueberry scone,” Doris cleared her throat, “and a tall-vanilla-no-foam-latte.” She finished in a quiet raspy voice from lack of use.
A roar of laughter rose from a group of young women in the corner and Doris’ auto-pilot mode of the day directed her to a table near them. A cute blonde covered her nursing infant. Four other heads turned and eyed her warily.
“Hi,” Doris smiled and sat faced away from them. No need to intrude on their fun.
The gals chatter picked back up, apparently not threatened by her. “Mom almost asked for my house key back after that. I’m not allowed to drop by now unless I text her first and she texts me back.” Doris could tell the voice belonged to the infant’s mother when she heard muffled cries.
“Does it make you uncomfortable to go over there now?”
“No way,” the voice of experience spoke boldly. “I hope I’m just like that when I’m their age.”
Doris grinned and an ah-ha moment brightened her countenance. Since she had entered adult life at a young age, she knew she couldn’t possibly be their age yet. Maybe she needed a fresh start at this phase in life.
She stood and smiled at the circle of young pretty faces, “I enjoyed your laughter today.” Doris winked at the young mother and headed out for a few errands of her own.
That night, Doris witnessed a total transformation when Vic wearily opened the front door. The smell of grilled steaks and the sound of Jazz music on the surround sound halted him at the entrance. When he caught sight of her she knew he rejoiced with the wife of his youth and would be thou ravished always with her love.
“It’s our turn to live, Baby.” Doris led him to the candle lit dinner table. “We started together very young. Now we can really live life.”
In the grey morning hours, Doris nonchalantly waltzed through the house and into the kitchen with no need for a bathrobe. She poured a glass of OJ and leaned against the counter and took a sip. Her mesmerized gaze left the serene view of empty land out her kitchen window when Vic appeared around the corner. He wore…a smile and reached for her OJ.
Vic joined her and stared out the window. “Love you,” he whispered and gave her a soft kiss on her shoulder.
Doris giggled at the feel of his cold OJ lips against her warm skin. She settled into his embrace and the couple lingered in the luxury of their new found freedom. “I think I could get used to an empty house, how about you?”
Author’s note: A short excerpt from Proverbs 5: 18 & 19 is quoted from KJV.
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