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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)

TITLE: To Quiet a Restless Heart
By
02/25/10


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Simone meets Miles on a temperate spring day among dogwood blossoms and broken glass. A roadside collision at dusk. A natural place for an EMT and sheriff’s deputy to shake hands. Simone notes the absence of a ring. “Got here as fast as we could,” she says. Her partner waves from the ambulance.

“Hey, Tom,” Miles calls. “No one’s hurt—just the usual. Tow truck should be here shortly,”

“What’s the usual?” Simone doesn’t like not getting it. Whatever it is. “And what’s with them?” She points beyond the patrol car at the middle-aged woman wearing sweats that balloon at the calves. She’s shouting at a silver-haired man in a tailored suit: Don’t you get it? It’s over. Leave me alone, you overbearing, egotistical…

“You must be new around here,” says Miles.

“Moved to the lake last month.”

“Well then, those two are the Hamilton’s. I’d introduce you, but they’re in the middle of something.”

“They’re married?”

“Yup.”

Simone takes another look. What an unlikely couple. He’s got height, and enough bulk to suggest a gym membership. He’s leaning against the crumpled front end of his sedan, arms relaxed at his sides. She’s short, heavy and her arms move in time to her rant. They punctuate obscenities.

“Did he run into her?”

“After she slammed her brakes. See the skid marks?” Two black lines stretch across twenty feet of pavement.

“Now that’s impressive.”

“He’s been chasing after her for thirty years. Doesn’t always end in a car wreck. He’s been known to break down a door or two.”

“For what? Not that it matters—I’d of divorced his butt a long time ago,” She looks pointedly at Miles. She’s dated law-enforcement types before.

He shrugs. “Suit yourself. But she’s no angel herself. If I had a wife who went sniffing around other people’s properties, she’d be kicked off mine, and I wouldn’t come running after her, either.” Miles digs the tip of his boot into the dirt like he’s carving out a spot for his imaginary philandering wife. Beyond them, Mrs. Hamilton continues her assault: You’re weak. Always knew it. Even when I said my vows, I knew it. Figured I’d cheat. I don’t love you. Most likely never did…

Her face has become red and puffy. Miles says, “No woman’s worth that kind of headache.”

“No man’s got the right to run a woman down.”

“He’s just going after what’s his—though she’s no looker; that’s for sure.”

“And stalking’s an endearing quality?” Simone starts to laugh, but then jumps at the sudden change in pitch of Mrs. Hamilton’s tirade. “Should we do something? She sounds like a wounded animal. ”

“Nah, he never touches her like that—not his style. It’s almost over now, anyway.”

“How—”

“Told you—this happens every couple’a months. Here it comes.”

“What? What’s coming?”

Miles puts a forefinger to his lips.

Simone watches as Mrs. Hamilton slaps her hands flat against her husband’s chest. Her moaning stops. She begins shaking. Why won’t you let me be? I’m begging you. I’m not worth it. I’m fat and ugly, a liar. I’ve never loved you the way I should have…

“Seriously?” Simone believes she’s now seen everything.

“Keep watching.”

Mr. Hamilton strokes his wife’s unkempt hair, draws her into his arms. “Shhh,” he whispers. His cheek grazes her forehead. “It’s okay.”

“Noooo—you deserve better.”

“Shhh.” He scatters kisses at the crown of her head. Her arms fold into fetal position.

“I’m so so sorry,” she cries softly, all melodrama gone.

"I know. It's going to be okay."



The tow truck arrives and loads Mr. Hamilton’s car. The couple walks arm-in-arm to her SUV. As they drive away, Simone tries to keep sight of them, but the descended dusk shrouds their vehicle at the tree-line.

She pulls her keys from her pants pocket. “That was plain weird.”

“You’ll get used to it. Mrs. Hamilton tries, but she’ll wind up wandering before long.” Miles clears his throat. “Any chance you’d give me your number?”

“Probably not. Seems like you take his side in all this.”

“Not really. It’s not like I understand it. But there’s something kinda noble about a man like him loving or forgiving— whichever it is—a woman like her.”

“It’s obsessive. Who needs that?” Simone judges Miles’ face. Rectangular head, large and sincere green eyes, freckles. “Ask me again next time.”

As she climbs into the ambulance, she wonders briefly how it would feel to be loved that much.


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This article has been read 589 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon02/25/10
Love this modern-day version of Hosea. Such a great telling of God's never-ending pursuit and love for us. Your writing had me right there watching this all unfold--and I love the way you left it open-ended.
Donna Wolther02/27/10
Yep. Good read.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/01/10
A love story brewing on two levels. It was fun to read.
Catrina Bradley 03/01/10
Excellent allegory of our Lord pursuing us, even running us down if necessary to get us to listen to him comfort and hush us. Maybe weak on topic? But your writing flows like silk - every word is phenomenal.
Gregory Kane03/02/10
Lame hint, sensational story. Loved your opening paragraph. How did you pack quite so much into so few words? No wonder you're on a roll this quarter
Mona Purvis03/02/10
What appears to be a simple, everyday story is really a much more complicated message.
I thank Jesus that I "get" it. How many will read this story and only taste romance?
Splendid on so many levels.

mona
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/02/10
What a gracious story to present a forgiving kind of love! You amaze me with your gift of storytelling.
Rachel Phelps03/02/10
Oh, wonderful. Lisa, I love how your stories are soooo deep and multi-layered. This one is a treasure. Thanks for sharing your gift with us.
Joy Faire Stewart03/02/10
Amazing story of love, great opening paragraph and perfect last line...though I didn't want it to end. Excellent writing!
Sarah Elisabeth 03/02/10
What a love.

As always, you put so much into so few words
Patricia Turner03/02/10
Lisa, you're an absolute master of dialogue, character building in just a few words - this is excellent all around. I too love the parallel to Hosea here.
Virgil Youngblood 03/02/10
Wonderful writing with lots to dwell on all the way through. Very enjoyable.
william price03/02/10
Very edgy story. I liked the effect. EMTs and deputies have been known to hook up. I loved the opening and the Open Denouement. God Bless. Did you notice the 500 by my name?
william price03/02/10
Oops. No 500. Well, silly me. Forget that. Great story!
Beth LaBuff 03/02/10
A double "Shhh!" Excellent! You seemlessly go from dialog to your character's thoughts. And I loved your spiritual allusion and the contrast between the two. Love this! I want to watch this on the big screen!
Edmond Ng 03/03/10
A very well written and touching story expressing vividly what it means by undeserved love, yet loved without reserve. I enjoyed the read very much.
Chely Roach03/03/10
I believe that what makes an exceptional piece of writing--aside from being well written and a compelling story--is the writer's ability to make the reader take a deeper look at themselves. Your stories are always so multi-layered...rich. Pleasantly didactic.
And I am such a Gomer. Superb.
Loren T. Lowery03/03/10
I have witnessed such love first hand and it is remarkable to see. You have captured it perfectly.
Sandra Petersen 03/03/10
I didn't quite expect the ending and when it came, it was nice. I also didn't see the modern-day Hosea link until I read the comments. This was very good.
Rachel Rudd03/03/10
So proves why you belong on this level, Lisa! Beautiful! I LOVE it! I really liked the line "Miles digs the tip of his boot into the dirt like he’s carving out a spot for his imaginary philandering wife." You really threw the story for a twist with the forgiveness scene. Masterful writing!
Pamela Kliewer03/03/10
Excellent. Love at its best. I didn't see the Hosea connection either... but after reading the comments that mentioned it, yes, it's definitely there.
Mary Knoll Santos03/03/10
A story that depicts full of mercy and long suffering in the person of Mr. Hamilton. Just like God is to us that we all might come to repentance. I'd like to be like "Mrs. Hamilton" who admits her sin, receives mercy, and humbles herself and "stay on" in the Saviour-- faithfully to the end.

Good writing. Thanks.
Beth LaBuff 03/04/10
Congratulations, Lisa! Love seeing this on the EC list!!!
Rachel Phelps03/04/10
Congrats, Lisa! What a wonderful story - I only wish it could have gotten higher.
Rachel Rudd03/04/10
Congratulations, Lisa! This IS a great story! :)
Ruth Stromquist03/04/10
Especially enjoyed your skills with dialogue. Congrats on EC!