Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)
- TITLE: Inside Out
By Deborah Bauers
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"Whoa, buddy! Careful. You're starting to sound like one of your patients. Don't you even think about going off the deep-end, you hear me?"
"Oh, no, not you again," Phil whined. "Go peddle your relentless, responsible, dribble somewhere else. Good Lord, I'm not crazy! I'm just fried-burned out-up to here-tired of working in the cesspool of humanity. Give a guy a break!"
"Give yourself a break, ole buddy. You just need to get away from it all. Little Phil has forgotten how to play. Go do something fun, man."
Phil tightened his jaw and ground out his words, "Go away. Both of you. Get out of my head! No self-respecting psychiatrist has auditory hallucinations. Maybe I do need a vacation…somewhere on a deserted island…"
"You can't take a vacation, Phil. You've got a court deposition next week and at least a half a dozen patients that could go over the edge at any moment. You're a doctor for goodness sake. Act like it!"
"Hey, let up, stuffed shirt! Give Philly a break! Come on, Phil, when was the last time you let loose, had some fun?"
Working hard to drive out the voices, Phil did a visual sweep of the room; he was desperate for a focal point to ground himself. His eyes fell on his grandfather's Bible, a recent addition to his office. It was a family heirloom, handed down from father to son. Reverently, he reached out his hand and gently stroked the front cover; then he picked it up. A faded photograph fell from between its pages and fluttered to the floor. Phil retrieved it and found himself staring at a much younger version of his recently deceased grandfather. He was standing on a beach, his arms gesturing as if in conversation. In front, a little boy crouched over a lopsided sandcastle. The camera captured the image of a little makeshift flag fluttering atop the castle's turret. Staring hard at the picture, Phil first felt a tightening in his gut and then lightness in his head…
"Granddad! Look! Isn't this the coolest castle ever? I wish that the whole wide world was a beach. Then we could come here everyday. I love the beach!"
Raising both arms toward the expanse of beach, the boy's grandfather replied. "No, son, it wouldn't be the same if we could come here everyday. We wouldn't love it so much when we do come. The beach is a place where all the voices inside of us are stilled and we can only hear God. As the mighty waves of the ocean crash upon the sand, God's still small voice calms the raging seas inside a mans' soul and gives him peace. God created the beach to delight the heart of a child and the oceans to preserve the boyhood spirit of a grown man. Never forget this moment, Philly…."
"Dr. Thatcher, your next appointment is due in fifteen minutes."
"Whoa! That was some daydream." Phil imagined that he could still taste the salt… Chuckling at his own absurdity, he reached into his shirt pocket. His smile quickly turned into a look of puzzlement as his fingers encountered, not the smoothness of his favorite ballpoint, but what felt like a small twig. Pulling it out of his pocket, he drew in his breath sharply as a little bit of red cloth appeared on the end of the stick. "What the…it’s a …the flag in the photo…no, in my dream!" The small emblem slipped from Phil's fingers, hung suspended in space…and then it vanished.
... Moments later, the good doctor emerged from his office, grinning, barefoot, and with his pant legs rolled up to his knees. The man was actually skipping as he crossed his own reception area.
"Dr. Thatcher, are you okay? Wait...where are you going?" Marlene cried out in bewilderment.
"Going, I'm going to the beach," Phil chortled, "And I'm taking my little boy with me."
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