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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Wow! (03/11/10)

TITLE: The Fourth Thing
By
03/17/10


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There are three things too amazing for me—
no, four things I don’t understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
the way of a man with a maiden.
Proverbs 30: 18-19 (NIV)


Lily, my bride-to-be, finds comfort in the image of the earth spinning on its axis as it moves along a preset groove in the solar system. Gravity does its job—keeps the planets aligned, keeps the feet of a groom-to-be grounded.

Grounded for her means I accept a government position. Decent salary, great benefits. So what if I’ll languish in a bureaucratic sinkhole as a paper-pusher.

I want to take the job in the Reenactment Department in Jamestown, Virginia. Small stipend, no benefits. But I’d get to alternate between museum docent and Revolutionary War soldier. Occasionally, I’d get to carry a rifle.

What would my dad advise? For twenty years of mornings, he quietly acquiesced to the program created by women to domesticate their men. Then one Saturday over bacon and eggs, he said, “I want to quit my job and make cheese.”

My mother’s eyelids fluttered in a seizure-like manner. “But sweetheart,” she said, “we don’t know one thing about making cheese.” She had used that tone with me when I was five and wanted to wear flip-flops in the snow.

“We could learn, Jules,” my dad said.

“We don’t have cows or space for cows.” She came up behind him, wrapped her arms around his neck.

“The land behind us has gone up for sale. It could be you and me and thirty Jersey girls.”

“Oh my goodness!” Hands moved to hips. “You’re giving this serious thought?” Her neck curved back until her face was parallel with the grooved ceiling—her martyr position. If it had been a picture, the caption would have read: Dear Lord—what is this cross I’m burdened with in the form of a husband?

She wasn't one to give up. “But—but, we aren’t cheese people, or even dairy people.”

“We could be.”

“Be strong,” I muttered on my way to the dishwasher. Dad was precariously close to receiving the silent treatment. Sometimes it included the unnecessary slamming of cabinet doors and silverware drawers. I didn’t care, though; I didn’t want him to back down.

Dad had warned me plenty about love while I was growing up. “Holden,” he’d say, “watch out for the fairer sex—there’s nothing fair about them. They’ll roll into the crook of your arm, trace hearts on your chest, and then pow and wow—you’re asking yourself, ‘what just happened?’ Next thing you know you’re handing her the checkbook to buy new living room furniture.”



My wedding looms and still, I haven’t made an employment decision.

“That’s fine,” says Lily. “Take your time. I want you to be sure.”

I’m not comfortable with this change in tactics.

The big day arrives. I wait at the end of an aisle flanked on both sides by beribboned pews. The smell of the gardenias she’s been raving about makes me a little queasy. Our organist starts up the march. For the merest sliver of a second I picture a sack over my head, a firing squad before me.

But Lily appears—the proverbial vision in white fluff on her father’s arm. The vows take me by surprise—we skipped over them at the rehearsal. Probably the pastor’s safeguard to his industry. The sharing of bread, a sip of wine—covenant and communion. This is serious.

The reception happens—I know because I watch it like an out-of-body experience. Food, dancing, toast, cake, rice.

Our honeymoon is a gift from her father. Right. The airport is two hours away and we need to be there at five in the morning. Lily hasn’t finished packing. By the time we check into our hotel room, we’ve been up thirty-seven hours. Her cheek nestles between my neck and shoulder. In minutes her breathing slows. Somehow I don’t think this is an accident.

Our first morning together streams through bamboo slats. Light reflects off the planes of her limbs, both ultra smooth and ultra soft. The ensuing warmth is overwhelming.

Oh, dear God, I think. I love her. I really love her.

“Lily?” I whisper a while later.

“Hmmm?”

“I’m taking the government job.”

“Are you sure?” Her nose grazes my ear.

“Yes—very sure.” I think about my dad. It took him twenty-some years to get his cows and cheese.

It seems like such a small price to pay.


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This article has been read 855 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Wolther03/18/10
Amazing what we do for love. I hope he doesn't regret it. Nice story.
Catrina Bradley 03/18/10
I love the voice and the rhythm of your writing. Your MC becomes a real person by the end of this wonderful story.
Beth LaBuff 03/20/10
You have a talent for making quirky human behavior absolutely hilarious! (the "eyelids fluttered in a seizure-like manner" "neck curved back….her martyr position" LOL! …and then "you and me and thirty Jersey girls"

This is a warm and beautiful illustration of the Proverbs verse. (…and I like that he takes the government job…. I liked it so much that my neck started to curve back as I read. :) )
Jan Ackerson 03/21/10
Four things I love:

1. The subtlety of the title
2. The "martyr position"
3. Not being "cheese people, or even dairy people"
4. Everything else
Allison Egley 03/21/10
I like this. Nice subtle use of humor, with a great message to boot! Great job.
Gregory Kane03/22/10
Am I the only one who felt sorry for the men in this story?
A load of fun with a sprinkling of painfully accurate insight into the battle of the sexes. Maybe all that dressing up was just a bit silly...
Jackie Wilson03/22/10
I enjoyed it all! The characters, the dialog, the details, the theme. Thoroughly wonderful!
Loren T. Lowery03/22/10
Could it be love follows an ordained orbit (no wonder we're dizzy at times) "spinning on its axis as it moves along a preset groove in the solar system." Possibly love is a grace, giving us true direction. Love doing its job (manipulated or not by the fairer sex), doing its job to keep: "the planets aligned, keep(ing) the feet of a groom-to-be grounded."

So much wit and wisdom in your work - loved it, not by ordination but by choice.


Laury Hubrich 03/22/10
I love this. lol. Especially this: "They’ll roll into the crook of your arm, trace hearts on your chest, and then pow and wow—you’re asking yourself, ‘what just happened?’ Next thing you know you’re handing her the checkbook to buy new living room furniture.”

So cute:)
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/22/10
Your fiction is always amazing, but for me, this one is especially so. The dialogue is as usual, spot-on. You've really showed us how to make a "wow" scene beautiful without ruffling any sensibilities. You go, Girl!
william price03/22/10
Amen, sister. The fourth thing has often baffled myself. Excellent tale, once again masterfully presented in a rhythmic easy melody. Enjoyed it very much. God bless.
Eliza Evans 03/22/10
Just so yummy good!!

The dad's voice? Fab!

The honeymoon scene cracked me right up. I'm still laughing!!

Taking the government job? Oh, sweet perfection.

I could go on. And on.
LOVE IT!!

What a leader you are, Lisa. Just let me sit by you, okay? :)
Ann Grover03/22/10
What is not to LIKE, no LOVE, about this story? Every phrase, the dialogue, the "realness" and the gentleness, the love... Beautiful.
Sarah Elisabeth 03/22/10
What a story! So real and I loved the exchange between the parents. So many unique and wow lines...how do you do it? *thumbs up*
Carol Slider 03/22/10
Your stories about relationships are always so subtly nuanced and REAL, and this is certainly no exception. Ah, the things we do for love... (And, hey, he can always do reenactments on weekends!) Absolutely beautiful from beginning to end.
Edmond Ng 03/23/10
I always enjoy reading your written pieces. They are always so well written that sometimes I am lost for words to give any comment. This story is an absolutely good example of the way a man behaves before a maiden! Sometimes love defies logic, and although this is not always good, it does set a good starting point for understanding the meaning of sacrificial love. Love bears all things ... endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).
Rachel Phelps03/23/10
First off - awesome title! As for the rest... brilliant! There isn't another word for it. I, too, felt bad for the guy, but I recognize the story. My dad gave up traveling full time as an evangelist to take a pastorate because my mom wasn't happy on the road. My hat is off, as usual, Lisa!
william price03/24/10
Yep, I still really like it. Just wanted to read it again though. Thought maybe the guy would change his mind :) God bless!

Betty Castleberry03/25/10
I have read very little this quarter, but something made me read this. Okay, I admit, that *something* was your name on this piece.

This is fabulous. I love the voice, the subtle humor, and well, just everything. So glad I did not skip this.
Jackie Wilson03/25/10
Congrats, Lisa, on your EC and Masters placing! Wonderful writing!
Connie Dixon03/25/10
I love how you draw your reader in with your details and side notes. Amazing stuff. Congratulations on this great piece.
Charla Diehl 03/25/10
I'm a bit behind on my reading, but am so glad to see this one recognized for its talented content. This entry brought smiles to my lips this morning. As usual, great job, Lisa.
Marita Thelander 03/25/10
I found myself hoping Lily would tell him to do what will fulfill him...then I found myself wondering if I need to take my own 'advice'.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/25/10
So well deserving of EC! I am so proud of you, dear Friend!
stanley Bednarz 03/26/10
Thanks for the heart warming message

Troy Manning04/11/10
Very nicely written--As per Gregory's comment, no, he's not the only one to feel sorry for the men in it. :)