Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)
TITLE: Hope's Conception
By Carla Feagans
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Hope eluded him. He’d never felt so powerless or so lost before. For six years now, they’d been trying to conceive a child. Two pregnancies and two miscarriages later, they remained childless. They were tired. He was tired.
Jim had always been the strong one. Each month that passed without getting pregnant, Maggie would cry and wail on his shoulder. Jim had prided himself on staying strong and forging ahead. He had been the rock. His unwavering faith that God would provide had carried them through.
The first miscarriage had nearly done them both in. “Maybe it’s time to give up,” Maggie had whispered, her voice barely audible. “No,” Jim had told her, immediately, emphatically. “God never gives up on us, we can’t give up on Him. He knows how much we want this baby. God will provide.”
But now, now, after so many years, after so much sorrow, what could he say? What could he tell his wife that he hadn’t already said, so many times? He was no longer sure of God. All remaining vestiges of hope had fled from his heart when this last baby died at only fourteen weeks of pregnancy.
Jim longed to comfort his wife, but he had nothing left. How could God turn away from them for so long? How could He let Maggie suffer like this? She was a good woman, a loving, Christian wife, she had such a heart for being a mother. They had tried adoption but were still on a long waiting list. What did God expect? How do you have hope when there is none?
“Ji…im?” Maggie’s shaky voice called out. “Honey, where are you?”
Jim brushed the angry tears from his face as he turned to go back in the bedroom. “Right here, honey,” he assured her.
“Tell me… tell me it’s going to be okay.” Maggie’s eyes were panicked, pleading. “Tell me there’s still hope.” Jim bit his lip as he climbed into bed behind her, hugging her with the length of his body. “Oh Maggie…” his heart ached. <i>I can’t.</i> He winced even as the thought was still forming.
The shrill ring of the phone shattered the silence as Jim realized he’d finally succumbed to sleep. “What…who’s calling?” Maggie whimpered, afraid. Phone calls in the middle of the night were never good news.
“I don’t recognize the number,” Jim told her as he scooped up the phone, padding over to the desk to turn on the light.
A few minutes later, Jim sat next to Maggie, tears streaming down his cheeks.
“What is it? Who was it?” she asked breathlessly.
“That was my second cousin, Sally.” Jim’s heart was beating so loudly he couldn’t hear himself think. “I haven’t talked to her for years… I’m not sure you’ve ever met her,” he said in a daze.
“What did she want? Why was she calling in the middle of the night?” Maggie’s eyes anticipated horror as she clasped the blanket tighter to her chest.
“She…” Jim fought back a sob. “She just found out her sixteen-year-old daughter is pregnant. She doesn’t want to have the baby, and Sally won’t let her abort it. They’ve been talking about it all night, and the only way her daughter will give it up for adoption is if it stays in the family.” Jim turned to Maggie, grabbing her hands and squeezing them in his. “Honey, they want us… they’ve heard how much we’ve wanted a baby… they want us to adopt this child.”
“Oh, Jim!” Maggie cried, throwing her arms around him. They hugged and cried together, sharing joy and tears.
“Jim?” Maggie finally raised her head from Jim’s shoulder, wiping her nose with a tissue. “What is Sally’s daughter’s name?”
Jim buried his face in his hands, shame burning at his cheeks. “Hope…,” he choked out. “Her name is Hope.”
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