Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hmph! (03/04/10)
By stanley Bednarz
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Her behavior at home had shifted: wider smiles, a confident stride, and letting me rule every discussion. There was enough evidence to convict her heart, and it nearly drove me into the ditch thinking about it. I wanted to catch her with him that afternoon. I wanted to see the surprised look on her face.
There I was driving down the road on a sunny day, talking to my steering wheel. As I drove past manicured lawns, I could smell the fresh cut grass, and imagined somehow we could have a fresh start. Perhaps it wasn't too late for a baby? I wanted our lives to find spring again.
But she wanted to spend more time with her new circle of friends. They'd been trouble from the start. The women had a swell time at our house-even talking about the man she'd been seeing under my nose, as if he'd made their world. All the laughing and smiling; it felt like they were playing me for a joker.
I wanted to bend the wheel of my car as I pulled into the driveway. Turning the ignition off, I closed the curtain of my eyelids, holding back the sun. The memories torched my soul. I would be in the living room watching the Discovery Channel, and they'd bring me all this dessert, my favorites: freshly warmed banana bread, custard cr¸me pie. Women know how to mask their real intentions with food.
As I looked through the windows, I noticed the floor looked so clean I could eat off it. It sparkled like white diamonds in the filtered sun. I would have sworn she must have cleaned the linoleum with a toothbrush. "It's guilt cleaning," that's what my friends at work said. When a man cheats on his wife, he starts taking more showers, but when a woman cheats she turns into a cleaning junkie.
Carefully unlocking the front door, I crept upstairs like a ninja. I took a moment to look down from the stairs, and spied our wedding picture through the banister rails in the formal living room, a captured smile, and shoulder length blonde hair. My angel.
I heard her voice rise above a whisper, as I lurked down the hall. Our bedroom door was opened a crack. I feared she might hear the pounding in my chest. Guilt pressed over me like an old washboard. I used to turn her off, like a switch on my remote life. Was she doing the same to me?
As I pushed the door open, there she was, down on her knees at the bedside, hands clasped in prayer, talking to "Jesus."
"Ah ha! So this is what you've been up to!"
"Yikes!" she said, and fell backwards on the bed. "Good night! Why'd you scare me like that?"
"HMPH! I want our life the way it used to be. You go to church with those friends. What about us?"
Her eyes swelled red with tears. "I've been praying for you."
"Come on Jess. That's another thing too. Okay go to church, have a good time with friends, but now this? It's Jesus in our bedroom, Jesus in the shower, Jesus all the time. What about us?"
A heavy silence filled the bedroom, as I watched my wife fall down on her knees and wrap her arms around my legs. My whole body shook.
As I fought back the tears in my eyes, I realized how jealous I was of "Jesus."
This was someone who lived more than two thousand years ago, but she talked to him as if he were in her heart.
"Don't you know how much I love you?" she said. "I will do whatever it takes to make our marriage work. But you need Jesus too."
A strange sensation washed over me, like a lovely tide reshaping the pieces of my heart, and I fell to my knees with her in prayer.
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