Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)
TITLE: Joe Retires
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge
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I reach over and shake his warm body, his snoring ends abruptly. I shake him again.
“What?” he grumbles.
“Why are you still in bed? Aren’t you going to work?”
As he rolls over I get a whiff of his morning breath.
“You’re kidding right? Don’t you remember I retired yesterday? You even gave me a party, silly!”
“Oh yeah—guess it’s going to take some getting used to. Does this mean the coffee’s not ready?”
I whine, “But you always make the coffee before I wake-up.”
As the room is getting brighter I can see Joe smile. “Ain’t the only thing around here that’s going to be changing. Let me know when breakfast’s ready.”
“Dream on dear, dream on,” I playfully punch his arm.
As I make the coffee I realize the newspaper is still outside. “Mr. Retiree wants me to make the coffee AND get the morning paper?” I shout to the ceiling, not sure if he can hear me or not.
I read the paper, complete the crossword puzzle, shower, get dressed, read my Bible, and begin cleaning the kitchen. My husband walks in wearing his bathrobe and slippers. I shake my head and smirk.
“Hey, wife, it only looks like I haven’t done anything yet. I’ve been working while I was in bed.”
“Oh really, and may I ask at what?”
“Working on my strategy—every great writer has to have a strategy. To begin with I have to decide where I’m going to write. I have to surround myself with the right supplies and the things that will get my creative juices flowing, you know.”
“Joe, you’re not still thinking about becoming a writer, are you?”
Scratching his head, Joe fills his old work mug with coffee, puts it down on the counter, then comes toward me. “Why do you think I’m kidding about being a writer?”
Catching my breath after Joe’s bear hug, I gently push him away. “Because in all these years I’ve never seen you read anything but the newspaper, TV Guide, or your Bible. What do you know about writing?”
“What I know Miss Smart-alecky is that all my life, when I tell people about the stuff I’ve been through, they always tell me I could write a book. So that’s what I’m going to do, give my fans what they want.”
I signal to Joe to sit down while I refill my mug. I lower my voice, choosing my words carefully. “Hon, I think what they meant is that you should write a book, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you could write a book. Writing is really hard work, and it’s lonely. You love being surrounded by people and action. I’m worried that in the end you’ll resent the time you wasted. Why not work on your golf game or a hobby more in line with your personality and God given gifts. Besides, have you prayed about this?”
“Aw come on, how hard can it be? And if God didn’t want me to write, why’d He put it in my heart?”
“Did He put it in your heart Joe, or did other people?”
Suddenly, I feel God tug at my heart. I get up, walk over to Joe, and wrap my arms around his shoulders. “Let me know how I can help.” I kiss the bald spot on the top of his head and ask God to help us both.
Day after day I watch Joe pace around his new desk in the den. I watch him write longhand in his notebook, tear out sheets of paper, ball them up, and attempt to throw them into his basketball wastebasket. I hear him let out big sighs before asking me if I need any help. I hear him ask what’s for dinner at 9:30 AM.
I see Joe becoming bored and frustrated.
I hear the old Joe disappearing.
I pray for wisdom.
I see cruise brochures on Joe’s desk.
I hear him say, “The book can wait till we get back.”
I whisper, “Thank you God.”
Joe's retired, again.
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