Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Time (11/15/12)
TITLE: Where did it go?
By Jack Taylor
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Shadows were falling across the keyboard before the recent empty-nester swiped away the bangs from her hazel eyes. Her eyebrows were almost knit together as the rhythmic clicking sounded in the dimming light. The clenched jaw betrayed the fact that something was amiss. The gathering moisture on the back of her hand confirmed it.
Words disappeared from the screen and were replaced by others only to be changed and adjusted and changed again. Her right knee vibrated up and down inches from the shelf on the computer desk. A pale blue heelless slipper lay abandoned under the wheeled office chair.
A shaky hand floated off the lettered buttons and snaked out to fish into a bowl of pistachios. A nut was selected, separated between ivory colored incisors, then drawn in to be crushed by a sturdy row of capped molars.
The bony shoulders were hunched as if carrying the weight of the world.
“Cybil, where’s Rocky?” The voice echoed in off the bare walls and brushed over the ears of the unsettled writer.
The tick of the clock was becoming invasive in the silence that wrapped itself around the outside garden and slithered in through the slightly opened window. The swish of a car finally broke the eeriness and confirmed signs of life still.
“Cybil, where’s Rocky?” came the voice again.
Cybil pushed back the chair and rose to close the window against the chilly night breeze starting to flow into the room. She slipped her foot back into the abandoned slipper. She paced back and forth on the office carpet following the pattern of wear built up through years of working through another story, another thought, another fear.
“Cybil, where’s Rocky?”
Cybil stopped mid-stride and pivoted to face the doorway. She marched purposefully toward the source of the question and planted herself with arms anchored to her hips. “I am tired of your question and I’m not telling you again.”
The lonely author shuffled into the kitchen and poured a mug of luke-warm brew. A half teaspoon of brown sugar was stirred in. She sipped and then set it down.
The phone rang and she stared it down as if it was a puff adder ready to strike. Four rings and then the voice message. His voice. “Praise the Lord. You’ve reached Cybil and Rocky and we’re happy to get your call. We’re probably at the church, down at the orphanage, or working down at the mission downtown. Wherever we are, we are celebrating what God is doing. Please leave your message after the tone.”
She’d have to change that soon.
“Cybil, where’s Rocky?”
Cybil slammed the kitchen door and burst out through the back door into the darkness. The tears were a river now.
The nuzzle in the back of her knee caught her off guard but when it nosed into her hand she stopped and crouched. The distraught writer wrapped her arms around the black Labrador and released the waterfall within.
“Brutus, what am I going to do?”
Apart from a quiet whine there was only the nuzzle moving into her neck and the lick on her cheek.
“Rocky was my heart. The kids are finally gone. We were going to Hawaii, London, Spain. Now all I have is you and that stupid parrot asking me where he is. I’m tired of screaming about cancer. How can doctors just say that someone has a week to live? It’s not fair.”
The phone sounded from inside again.
“Stupid phone! Probably everyone at the church telling me how blessed we were to have been involved with so many people. How great a servant Rocky was. Brutus we gave our lives to help everyone we met. We finally have time for us and it’s over. Where did it go? What was the point of it all?”
The squeak of the gate at the side of the house pierced the night sounds.
Cybil clinched her arm around the dog’s neck and turned to see the intruder. It was Charlie.
Charlie the orphan; Charlie the candle seller who snuggled up under the back stairs of the candy store on cold nights; Charlie the boy who took Rocky’s blankets and shared them with those more desperate than himself.
Rocky had given his own harmonica to Charlie and taught him how to play.
As the young teen walked slowly across the yard she could hear the first strains of ‘Amazing Grace’. It only took one hug. Rocky’s love lived on.
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