Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)
TITLE: Happy Ever After
By Beth Muehlhausen
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Something rustled just enough to awaken me amidst the stillness of the summer night. I squinted as the streetlight outside penetrated my delicate lace curtains to send dancing luminaries – like Tinkerbelle lights - across the walls.
Did Bob also sense a strange presence? I turned slowly to study the familiar profile of his face, now paralyzed by sleep. My heart flopped erratically within my chest, but not as a startle reflex or emotional reaction. Rather, it was a reminder of my chronic condition - a type of heart muscle degeneration - that threatened to someday take my life with a sudden heart attack. I turned onto my back, closed my eyes, and invited the soothing rhythm of Bob’s soft breathing to lull me back to sleep.
<i>The death angel swooped low so its wingtips could barely dust her forehead.</i>
A sensation like that of a paintbrush swept across my forehead. Shivers raced down my spine as I stared at the shadows and tiny lights playing on the ceiling. Intuitively I knew I was not alone. “Lord, is that You? Did you wake me? Is there something You want me to do?”
<i>In cases like this the angel gave a warning of sorts, which usually provoked a rush of memories. This time was a little different, however. The angel hoped for more.</i>
My mind involuntarily spun backward in time to replay scenes from childhood. I found myself once again swimming in rock-studded shallows of a sun-speckled lake, riding my bicycle in well-worn dirt grooves over daisy-studded hills, sauntering in an icy spring-fed pond where greasy mud oozed between my toes and heady moss-smells hypnotized me with their aromatherapy.
Bob turned in his sleep and flung one arm onto mine. Our four decades together had been good – hard at times, but good. I glanced at his tousled grey hair and then back to the ceiling. Why did these memories seem so urgent – as if to inspire me to recapture the happy disposition of a child? Was Tinkerbelle’s “pixie dust” indeed at work?
Cautiously I pulled my arm free, peeled back the white sheet and quilted bedspread, swung my feet onto the cool hardwood floor, and tiptoed out of the bedroom. A surge of excitement guided my steps, almost as if the hallway beckoned me toward the unveiling of a mystery.
In the living room I flopped onto the plaid couch, positioned my laptop, threw back my head, and waited.
<i>For a second time the death angel dipped down and brushed her forehead with its wings.</i>
What was that … again?
A wellspring of memories gushed across the screen, line after line after line, as I typed with involuntary ease.
<i>God’s messenger hovered, waiting for the right time.</i>
My tingling fingers leapt on the keys despite inadequate circulation; I ignored the tightness in my chest. Only one thing mattered: my love for the carefree child romping through my memory! I loved her childlike trust, confidence and freedom! If only I could be like her again!
Story after story flew from my hands as I revisited such qualities as innocence, acceptance, trust, dependence, and expectancy. Time seemed to stand still until I finally noticed the early grey of dawn peeking through the windows.
Night was fading; a new day was about to appear. I grabbed my laptop and carried it into the office to print my work. A stack of pages soon lay on my lap.
Exhausted but also curiously refreshed, I crept oh-so-silently down the hallway with my prize in hand. I gently placed the stack of pages on Bob’s bedside table and crept to my side of the bed. With a sense of finality I reclined on my side, conformed my body to his backside, and nuzzled into his neck with a smile.
As I embraced Bob I also embraced the truth. God was with me. He knew me and I knew Him.
Then … it came without warning.
Suddenly something resembling a concrete block slammed into my chest; white-hot pain ripped through my upper body. I thought of the stack of papers just a few feet away.
<i>The angel began to make final preparations.</i>
Surely … Bob would find comfort … knowing God had inspired me to search … for a happy, childlike mindset … to prepare me …
<i>With a gentle swoop of its powerful wings, the death angel lifted her beyond the moment of shock and pain to experience the fullness of her eternal inheritance.</i>
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