Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)
By Sarah Elisabeth
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Tripping over a suitcase, I saw our wedding album on the coffee table. “Margaret?”
Turning at the sound of my wife’s footsteps, my eyes went from the bags in her hands to her drawn face. “Maggie, I have something to tell you.”
Margaret’s chin lifted. “And I have something to tell you.”
The thud of her dropped bags sent a chill up my spine.
“Andy, we’ve been married for twenty-six years. A majority of those years you’ve had things your way and I can’t take it anymore. I’m leaving.”
My jaw dropped. “But that’s what I came home to tell you. I know our marriage has been rocky, especially since-” My voice caught “-your cancer scare. But I’ve changed, I truly have. You know Dennis at the shop? He told me how his life has changed since turning it over to Jesus. I wanted what he has, so I did it. I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I’m not sure what happened but, Maggie, I feel like a brand new man. And I want to tell you how sorry-”
“Sorry? Please, Andy, do you think an apology will help us now? Where were you when I was sick? In the hospital? For crying out loud, I lived with my sister during recovery because you claimed you couldn’t take care of me. And we both know why.“
Margaret’s steps resounded in my ears as she strode to the coffee table. She pushed the wedding album to the floor. Underneath laid a familiar manila envelope. Half gripping, half strangling it, Margaret’s face grew red as tears flowed. “Here’s your precious manuscript. This was the child we never had. All the things I could never give you. You’ve buried yourself in your work, your passions. I hope they are enough for you now.”
She shoved the bulky package into my hands. “It’s ready to send to your publisher or agent or whoever.”
“Maggie, give me a chance to-“
“To what? Fix our marriage? Too late. Some things in life can be fixed. But some things just can’t.”
Margaret lifted our wedding picture from the album and tore it in half.
“Our marriage is one of the things that can’t.”
Taking the torn photo, I carefully taped along the back before scanning it and printing a full color copy. Staring at the happy faces, I wished I could piece our marriage back together as easily.
The phone rang. My heart sank when I recognized the number. The answering machine picked up.
“Hey Andy, it’s Brad. I should have gotten your manuscript by now. We’ve come a long ways, Buddy, and we’re almost there. Get it to me A-sap, alright?”
Moments later, it rang again. The number on the caller ID exploded like fireworks in my eyes.
Sandy. Margaret’s sister. Maybe Maggie…
Silence filled the line before a familiar voice spoke. “No, it’s Sandy.”
Swallowing my disappointment, I asked, “How’s Maggie?”
I knew Sandy was crying as she said, “She didn’t want me to call, but I felt you should know. She’s in the hospital. The cancer’s back and the doctors say she won’t beat it this time.”
I softly tapped on the door to room 216.
Margaret’s expression spoke volumes. “Did Sandy-“
“Don’t be angry with her, Maggie. I won’t stay long if you don’t want me to. I just had a few things I wanted to bring you.”
“What, your manuscript for me to read one final time?”
I stared at the vase of flowers I held. “I erased it from the computer and burned the last copy.”
Margaret gasped. “That was your dream.”
I set the flowers by her bed and laid a Bible next to it. Meeting her eyes, I took her hand in mine.
“You are my dream, Maggie. And I’m so sorry for…..“ I sighed. “Everything.”
Smiling a little, I nodded toward the Bible. “And I have a new story to write now.”
Margaret didn’t hide her tears. “Maybe you can tell me about it. But - Andy, it’s just too late for us.”
I squeezed her hand, shaking my head. Opening the Bible, I retrieved my repaired version of our wedding picture.
“Some things just can’t be fixed, Maggie. But some things can.” I propped the photo against the vase of flowers. “With God’s help, our marriage in one of the things that can.”
My heart skipped a beat when Margaret squeezed my hand ever so slightly.
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