Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)
By Michael DiCarlo
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“Pray,” Patty said.
“You always say that,” I said. “What does God care if I take this job or not?”
My wife bowed her head and closed her eyes. A moment later, she squeezed my hands and looked up. Her striking blue eyes piercing mine.
“He does care. He has a plan for you, for us…”
“How do you know?”
“I just know,” she said.
“It’s a huge raise.”
“We have plenty of money,” she said. “Why even consider a job that will take you away from home more? The kids and I miss you.”
Patty was often right about these things, but this was different. A friend had started a new company and wanted me as his CFO. A startup with lots of potential, despite the longer hours, the future rewards could be huge. I - we - could retire in five years if everything went according to plan. It was the right thing for our family.
“But it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” I said.
“We want you home,” Patty said and stood up. “Raising our children together is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Patty turned to leave the room. I stood up and walked toward the window. Darkness had settled outside, and the light from the overhead lamps shone into the window, creating a mirror effect. Instinctively, I looked at my reflection.
“But this new job…” I started to say to myself but stopped upon noticing something in the window. Over the image of my shoulder, I saw the fuzzy reflected outline of a silver cross Patty had hung on the far wall. Perhaps a sign, I thought. I bowed my head...
...God, I want this job. Please help Patty to see how it will benefit all of us. Please make her see that I’m right...
I stood there with my eyes closed for another moment and thought about how great it would be to work for my old buddy and help lead his company to success.
...Please make this job happen. I know it’s the right thing...
The kids were asleep and I let the stillness of the house sink in. Minutes later, I looked back up at my reflection. But something had happened. Something was different, but I couldn’t place it. I stepped back and gazed deeply into the dark mirror. There I was, but the reflection of the cross had somehow changed, becoming larger and more distinct. I looked over my shoulder at the wall. Gone! Where was the cross? I looked back in the window, and there it sat over my shoulder as if hanging on the wall, its contours more defined than just seconds before.
“Patty!” I said, turning to check the wall again. Nothing!
No answer from my wife, I looked back into the window. The cross hovered over my shoulder, now clearly visible.
“Patty!” I nearly yelled. An icy paralysis of fear had begun to overtake me.
“She entered the room. Fighting to face her, my eyes nearly popped out of my skull when they fell on the cross from the wall she clutched in her hands.
“What are you doing with that?”
“I took it down to hold while I prayed for you in the other room. Why? What’s wrong? You look like you just saw a ghost.”
I looked back at the window and the cross was gone. I moved towards Patty, tears swelling up in my eyes and my body starting to shake, “I’m so sorry,” I whispered as I grabbed my wife and held her more tightly than ever before.
“It’s okay,” she said.
We stood in silence, holding each other for what felt like an hour. My body stopped shaking and the tears dried.
“I’m not taking that job.”
Patty looked up at me. Her lips formed a smile and her eyes met mine. She caressed me with a look that I hadn’t seen in years. My fear had now melted and a peace I’d never felt before began to replace it.
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Patty.”
“Everything will be fine. We don’t need more money, we just need you”
A thought of how much we could stash away for college and a vacation home flew through my head. But this time, for some reason, they came and went without stopping.
“Yes, it will.” I said. “Yes, it will.”
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