Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: "Splash" 4-11-13 Deadline (04/04/13)
TITLE: Tunnel Vision
By C D Swanson
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I met Ida, another fifty-something empty-nester, at the Route 9 North bus stop. <i>"Hi,"</i> I mumbled, my face buried in a steaming container of coffee. <i>"Lo,"</i> she grumbled, equally immersed in her own morning caffeine fix. Then we boarded the bus for our jobs in downtown Manhattan.
On the bus, I slurped my coffee and meditated. Ida gulped hers and read her latest Danielle Steele. She interspersed her sips with comments like, <i>"Hah!"</i> and <i>"Oh, no!"</i> and <i>"I knew it!"</i> When we got to the tunnel connecting Jersey to Manhattan, the <i>fun</i> began.
A mind-numbing forty minutes later, we were still in the tunnel.
With fear in my heart, I called out to the driver, "What's holding us
"How would I know, lady. I ain't no fortune teller."
That's when the <i>cute,</i> but <i>weird</i> guy, who always sat near the
driver, started to bellow. "We're stuck in the most inaccessible part of the city! We're all doomed. This tunnel is old. VERY OLD. Soon we'll see a drop, then more drops, then <i>SPLASH!</i> The river will come crashing down upon us and we'll all drown!!"
"Shut up, you nut!" Ida yelled.
"Don't encourage him," I whispered, shivering in my boots, er,
sneakers. "It's that cute but weird guy. He annoys me."
Then suddenly we were moving and blessed daylight was visible
ahead. Soon, Ida and I joyfully disembarked and started to head for our separate destinations.
"Ida, wait," I said, "I think I just made up my
mind about something. I'm going to quit my job today."
"Stop with the jokes, will you."
"No, really, I'm dead serious. Five years I've been doing this. I
just can't take the stress any more. The long commute, the traffic, the endless tie-ups."
"Whoa, and then what? Back to the empty nest? Vera, your husband's gone, your kids are away in college. You'll go nuts sitting around the house all day. How can you think of giving up all this." She flung her arms out wide as though embracing all of Manhattan. "We're in the greatest city in the world!"
"But it's not worth all the aggravation."
I turned onto my street, barely hearing Ida calling after me. "Vera, listen to me. Don't quit today. Don't do anything so rash. Promise you'll go home and think about it all weekend."
"Okay, I promise," I said weakly.
I kept my word and didn't quit. I went home and thought about it
all night Friday and all day Saturday, and I was no closer to a solution than when I started.
Sunday morning, after church, I went to keep my usual rendezvous at the local Starbucks. I was early, so I sat at our usual table in the
back, sipping my coffee and praying silently to God to help me make a decision. One of my favorite passages from Exodus came to my mind. <i>"The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation."</i>Twenty minutes later, in walked my mystery man, the one that even Ida didn't know about. And that's when I made my decision.
He bent down to kiss me, and said, "Well, did you make up your
"Yes. I most happily will marry you. On one condition. I want to
introduce you to Ida so you can tell her we've been seeing each other, and..."
"Great! But here's my condition. We tell her together. We're not
starting this marriage hiding any more. And you have to tell her the truth about the real decision you were trying to make this weekend."
"Deal. I'll simply tell her my decision is to quit my job, and
that the real reason is because I'm going to get married...to the cute
but weird guy from the bus."
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