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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sizzle (05/02/13)

TITLE: Fault Line
By Carolyn Ancell
05/03/13


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Moll was numb. After 15 years of trying to make her marriage work, she was on her way to the local courthouse to end it. How do you end something you have been committed to for 15 years? Something you were certain, at the beginning, was delightful, a gift from God, sacred? She thought she would feel pain, sadness, confusion; but she felt absolutely nothing. Driving toward town, she passed the tiny building set back off the road that had been their first apartment. Trucks and heavy equipment were parked in the dirt driveway. What was that about?

It had begun in joy. She had been then (and still was) a liturgical dancer who expressed her prayer in movement. She was a professional, having written two books and many articles on sacred dance, taught and performed throughout the United States and Australia. At first, he had been one of her students. The joy and common endeavor had led to friendship, then marriage. Shortly after the marriage, however, he became involved with a group of people who believed they received private revelations of spiritual truth directly from St. Joseph. One of the things that St. Joseph soon uttered was, "Stop your pagan dancing in the aisles."

Ralph first stopped dancing himself; then asked Moll to stop. She felt her work to be gift from God, and a task given to her by God to bring people to offer their whole being to the Lord--body, mind, and spirit--in a living sacrifice of praise and worship. Should she stop out of obedience to Ralph, her husband? She sought the advice of clergy and friends; and she took the matter constantly to the Lord in prayer. The answer to her prayer and seeking was always the same: the work serves the Lord; the work glorifies God. What was she to do?

Soon Ralph began leaving pamphlets on the kitchen counter, with notes attached: "you are on a path to the fires of hell" and "you will be sorry when you die."

She began to doubt and question her own sanity and spirituality. Was she going to sizzle forever in hell for doing what she felt the Lord was calling her to? Friends counseled her that what Ralph was doing was emotional abuse, that she should seek a divorce. But divorce was not something she would ever consider. She had promised "for better or for worse," and she remembered that her mother always said, "Honey, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

Fifteen long years passed. She was making the best of it. The abuse continued (if it was't about the liturgical dance, it was about her church work, or her friends, or her family), but she hardly heard it anymore.

Then one day, Ralph asked if she would file for a divorce from him! He was giving up on her, he had found another woman, but he did not think his family would approve of his filing for divorce. She had made lemonade for so long, it actually took awhile for her to make sense of it all.

Finally she did file. She was the villain. His family shook accusing fingers at her. She was deeply grateful for the quiet support of her friends. Now, today, she was driving to the courthouse to finalize everything. She was startled when she walked into the courtroom how much it looked like the little church of her youth with its dark burnished wooden pew-like seats, and a kind-looking fellow in a black robe presiding up front.

The deed was accomplished in seconds. No sounds or smells of hell-fire sizzling the ends of her hair. No screams of anguish pulsing in her eardrums. No sense of abandonment by God. Rather, the smell of roses greeted her as she walked out and down the courthouse steps into the cool late morning air. A gentle breeze seemed to lift and carry her. Clouds in her mind began to lift as well. God loved both Ralph and her; they had both tried in their own ways to make the marriage work; but his words and actions had been abusive and destructive. Now, apart, maybe they could both find healing and peace.

Driving past their old tiny apartment, Moll noticed that the trucks and heavy equipment had accomplished their work. The apartment was gone. All that remained was fresh fertile ground.


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Member Comments
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Charla Diehl 05/09/13
I felt like I was reading someone's diary as the MC let the reader into this current chapter of her life. I liked the symbolism of fresh beginnings-- when the MC noticed that their first apartment had been demolished in the time it took to dissolve the legal ties of the marriage. This was nicely paced and well-written. Also liked how you pointed out that the MC did not take their marriage vows lightly--and sought advice through prayers, from clergy and friends before agreeing to end the marriage.
CD Swanson 05/11/13
A very powerful entry with so much emotions and meaning. Well done, and very metaphorical with the last line, great job!

God bless~