Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Dropout (05/12/11)
TITLE: Until the Last Rose Dies
By Fern Brown
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The car was loaded and Mabel kissed her children and husband farewell. She and her sister Helena planned a get-away for an entire week to do some serious visiting and shopping in a distant city. "It’s been three years since we saw each other last.” she thought.
Six hundred miles away, Helena’s emotions fluctuated as she headed for the freeway. She exploded against her husband again last night and her anger still boiled. Guilt about the fight, and frustration with Matt for causing it, overrode her eagerness to connect with Mabel. Before she left, Matt held her in his arms, looked earnestly into her eyes and expressed his undying love for her. "I'll miss you, Darling."
Oblivious to his anguish, she shrugged away from his embrace, muttering, "Yeah, right."
Helena’s heart ached between love for Matthew and fury towards him for the wickedness he allowed in his life. "Oh, he'll be fine, all right. He's got his stack of dirty magazines and he won't miss me at all." Bitterness knotted her stomach muscles and deeply furrowed brows erased any evidence of happiness. She tried to pray and sing, but her feelings forced their way to center stage. “I’ve had enough. I’m quitting.”
Settling into their hotel room, Mabel smiled and looked into Helena’s eyes. Startled, she asked, “Why, Helena, have you been crying?”
Irrepressible tears invaded her eyes as heavy sobs of grief wrenched through her body. Drooping shoulders, bloodshot eyes and a blotchy red face shouted defeat. “Why is God allowing this? I’m dropping out of this marriage game.”
“Oh, Honey, you can’t just drop out of your marriage. Matt is a pastor. Surely, there’s an explanation for that bag of magazines in his car. You said he asked you to clean the car, correct? A guilty man wouldn’t leave evidence like that around for his wife to find. Is he still reading his Bible and praying? He has always been such a faithful man of God.”
“That’s what makes me so fiery mad! That hypocrite! Even pastors fall. Yes, he studies the Bible like he’s clinging to it for dear life. Nothing has changed with him. But since I found those magazines I feel hopeless and worthless. It hurts so badly.”
“Well, you’ve never been a quitter and now isn’t the time to start. Even if he is guilty, divorce isn’t the solution. Satan’s traps are never too big for God to free men from them. Let’s fast and pray the rest of the day and leave it with God. He hates divorce, you know. He loves you both.”
The phone’s insistent jangle greeted her as she entered the otherwise quiet house. Dropping her luggage, she raced to answer it.
An unknown man’s voice spoke. “Are you Pastor Jones’ wife? He said you’d get back home today. He doesn’t know I’m calling, but I need to explain something to you. A little over a month ago, I gave your husband a bag of books to destroy for me. I didn’t have the guts to throw them out myself. He’s been counseling me about my addiction. He understands how it affects my wife when I look at that trash, by observing your behavior. You think they’re his, but they’re not. He told me I need to set boundaries in my life and explained what some of his are. He would rather God kill him than to hurt you that way. He won’t break a confidence, so I’m telling you myself. I hope this call straightens things out for you.”
Glancing at the table she saw a beautiful bouquet of red roses with a card leaning against the vase. It read, “My Darling Helena. Please know that I will never treat you the way you think I have. I intend to bring you roses every month for the rest of my life to let you know how much I treasure you. I’ve been and will remain faithful to you alone until the last petal on the last rose I ever give you dies. I love you, Matthew.”
Helena fell to her knees thanking God for her husband’s innocence. “Dear God, you have given me a small taste of what many women go through daily because of their husband’s tragic choices. Use me to help hurting women, perhaps some in our own church, who are ready to give up on marriage. Thank you for showing me the reality of this horrible addiction.”
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