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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Break (02/06/06)

TITLE: Cardinals and Crumbcake
By Kristin Slavik


Susan stared at her feet. The intense color in her cheeks rose with each consecutive question. The fuel of anger lit a match within her that denied any other feelings. She glanced at the stranger she used to know from the corner of her eye, hoping he was at least feeling uncomfortable too. He sat calmly, watching her, waiting for a reply. None came.

She looked up at the dragon breathing down her neck. Locking eyes, their wills battled for a moment before she finally turned to their interrogator. Forcing a smile, she spoke through clenched teeth. “This problem is not my fault. Maybe if you would be asking him these questions we would be getting somewhere!”

She looked back down at the ground. She shook her head; it was unbelievable that they were paying this man to help them. They didn’t need help, especially when it was entirely his fault. He just needed to admit it.

It was just two weeks before that her world had changed. She had been checking her email when she noticed that her husband’s emails were piling up and she thought she would clean it out for him. Just like the good wife she was, always cleaning up after his messes. She noticed that several did not look like the spam she had expected to be deleting and opened one entitled ‘Can We Meet?’ The contents shocked her and even though she knew she was snooping, she could not stop reading.

Hours later she had sat with puffy red eyes knowing the truth, but not knowing what to do about it. She decided to confront the ugly beast that now shared her life. He had been apologetic and suggested that they see a marriage counselor. This brought her here to this dungeon only to find that she was the object of his probing questions.

The interrogator started talking again. She tried to tune him out. She had agreed to do this because she wanted answers, but maybe she just needed a way out. Maybe God would send her a sign telling her it was OK to get out and move on. A cardinal landed on the window sill above the man’s head. She covered a smile at the thought of the small bird sitting on the head of a monster, following every bob of his head. That’s it, she thought. I have my sign. Thanks, God. Feeling justified in her anger and her resolve to leave, she opened her mouth to let the two attackers in the room know that she had made up her mind. They were going to take a break and she was going to be just fine. Before the words could come out, the cardinal’s mate joined him on the window sill. Together, they stared in at the scene for a moment and then looked at each other before they flew off.

Susan clamped her mouth shut. That wasn’t how the sign was supposed to go. Come on God, how can I stay? I can’t just let this go. She looked back to the dragon sitting next to her. The smoke diffused around him and his face seemed to soften.

“Well, Susan?” The counselor was looking at her expectantly. Apparently she had missed something.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “What was the question?”

“We were talking about what you used to do together that made you happy. Your husband remembered that you used to go out for crumbcake. I suggested that you do that today. What do you say?”

Memories of their many trips for the perfect crumbcake pushed away the encroaching dungeon. Susan looked again at her husband and saw the boy she fell in love with so many years ago. Maybe there was hope, Maybe true love was not so easy to break. The pair of cardinals returned for a moment. Susan looked heavenward and breathed a silent prayer. Thanks, God. That was just the sign I needed.

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This article has been read 812 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Cassie Memmer02/15/06
I think the writing of this is good. I wasn't ready to stop being angry with the husband. I know, you only had 750 words! :o) If this was written by a woman, I would be surprised. Keep writing!
James Clem 02/15/06
I also felt the change of heart was a tad quick. One more paragraph of pleasant memories would ease the transition. I like the Cardinals. ; - )
Virginia Gorg02/16/06
Nicely written and held my attention. The ending seemed abrupt, though, and a bit more transition would have been nice. But words are limited! Nice job.
Sandra Petersen 02/18/06
Well told, beautiful wording. The images of the marriage counsellor as a dragon, the cardinal and its mate...all were perfectly woven together. Many men might not have gone for counselling. Suggests that there is hope for the marriage that he went. Now that I reread, yes, the ending suggests that this could be expanded into a longer story. She probably would not have capped her anger so neatly, especially if his transgression was adultery. You have a gift with imagery and description!