Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: FINISH (05/26/16)
- TITLE: DENOUEMENT
By Dennis Gallemore
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He stood on the porch, gazing down the valley, appreciating its natural beauty for the last time. He sold the rustic cabin only two days earlier; his neighbor would be arriving in a few hours to help remove the remaining furniture. He sighed, turned, and stepped inside. Glancing around, his eyes rested upon a portrait of himself with Joanne, his beloved wife of forty-two years. The photographer had captured her essence in a single snapshot; beautiful, kind-hearted, and cheerful; the image of her mere weeks before the devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Tears threatening to burst forth, he turned to the task of building a fire in the stone fireplace; more to occupy his mind than to warm the chilled cabin. He sat beside the fire in his wing-back chair, carefully adding pieces of split red oak as the flames grew. A lifetime of memories flashed through his mind; a mental mosaic built from decades of love, laughter, joy, sorrow, and pain.
He had gifted her with the cabin on their thirtieth anniversary, and they had stayed in it nearly every weekend for years. She had loved the weekly ritual of trading the hustle and bustle of the city for the solitude of the cabin.
He glanced at the unoccupied wooden rocking chair by the door as a wave of sadness and loneliness washed over him. They had sat fireside, Joanne in the rocker, he in his wing-back, on countless nights, reminiscing about the past; smooth jazz playing on the stereo. She had loved to dance; he, not so much; but after a glass or two of wine, she was able to pull him from his chair. His hand on her back, her hand on his shoulder, their free hands entwined; they swayed back and forth in time to the slow, sensual music. He remembered how she looked; eyes closed, lips slightly parted, her face flushed.
He stood, walked to the stereo, selected a jazz CD, and slid it into the player. Stepping to the refrigerator, he selected a bottle of Riesling, Joanne's favorite. He retrieved two wine glasses from the cupboard, poured wine into one, made his way to the rocking chair, and pulled it next to the fireplace. Stepping over to the couch, he picked up a large, white teddy bear, carried it to the rocking chair, and gently placed it in the seat. He nestled the second wine glass against the teddy bear, and returned to the wing-back. Grasping one arm of the wooden chair, he gently rocked it.
He raised his glass to the teddy bear. "To you, Joanne, the love of my life." Gazing into the flames, he sipped the wine as smooth jazz notes filled the cabin. He finished the glass and set it upon the hearth, a slight smile playing across his face. He stood, turned to the rocking chair, and extended his hand. "May I have the honor of this dance, madam?" The snow-white bear, eyes sparkling, silently gazed back.
He tenderly picked up the bear and moved to the center of the living room. Placing one hand on the bear's back and the other on the bear's silky arm; he waltzed her around the room. Swept away by the soft music, he closed his eyes. "I love you, honey, and I miss you so very, very much."
He opened his eyes as the music ended, the last track finished. He hugged her tightly and then gently placed her in the rocking chair. "Care for another glass of Riesling?" She didn't reply, evidently content with only one glass.
"I know; the second glass makes you sleepy, but I believe that I will have another." He poured himself another glass of wine; sipping occasionally; he studied her. "When will I see you again?" She remained silent.
Sighing, he placed the half-empty glass on the hearth. "When?" He rocked her chair with increasing force. "When?"
The bear slid down in the chair until it was on its back. He followed the bear's upward gaze, which seemed to pierce the cabin's roof as it travelled ever upward. Glancing back down, he picked up the half-full glass of Riesling and studied it. He sipped, enjoying the wine's sweet finish. "Honey, I still have some work left to do here on Earth, but someday, when my glass is finally empty, I will rejoin you, and we will forever dance."
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