Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bon Voyage (09/05/05)
- TITLE: Mysterious Ways
By Anita Neuman
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This was not one of those days.
Cara had awakened to the sound of rain pelting her window. She wasn’t surprised, given her history of losing to Murphy’s Law. Her head was throbbing after a long night of mentally revising her to-do list. And when she rolled over to catch a few more winks, she noticed that her alarm hadn’t gone off and she was late getting the kids ready for school.
Her day only got worse after that.
A construction crew had chosen that week to tear up her street, making it difficult for her guests to access her house and nearly impossible for them to park nearby. Cara’s grandparents had called that morning to let her know that they would be half an hour late for the party, which meant that they would very likely ruin the surprise by arriving at the same time as the guests of honor. The deplorable weather forced Cara to move the party inside, which meant extra cleaning. And she discovered early in the day that her old vacuum cleaner had given up the ghost and she needed to borrow one from a neighbour. The slushy punch that she had begun to prepare the night before had spilled all over the inside of the freezer, leaving a sticky, orange mess that she didn’t have time to deal with. Then an ill-timed phone call from a telemarketer distracted her from her baking, and she had to pitch a whole tray of burnt hors-d’oeuvres.
Cara was terrified to go to the grocery store, just knowing that the bakery had messed up her cake order. She was immensely relieved to find that her premonition hadn’t held true and the cake was exactly what she’d ordered: chocolate slab, white icing, and “Bon Voyage, Beth and Jerry” in a beautiful, pale blue script. Finally, something had gone right!
Looking back at her day, Cara was pleased with herself for ploughing through each ordeal without losing her focus. Tonight was meant to be a fun occasion, an opportunity for family and friends to offer loving support to Cara’s sister and brother-in-law. Cara hoped to dispel some of Beth’s heartache over their decision to move away for a year. After four years of trying to start a family, Beth and Jerry had resolved to take a break and focus on something else for a while. They’d both taken an extended leave of absence from their jobs and made arrangements to teach English in Korea for one year.
Cara understood Beth’s mixed emotions as only a sister could. They frequently prayed together, asking for God’s will to be done and for clear direction in their lives. And now, as they looked forward to what should be an exciting new adventure, Cara knew that Beth would be holding back tears of mourning for her postponed dream.
But this was not the night for tears. This was the celebration of a new beginning. Beth and Jerry would be embarking on their journey in less than four weeks. And there was a houseful of well-wishers, waiting to surprise them with a whole evening of encouragement and love.
Cara’s husband, Mike, who was keeping watch at the front window, motioned everyone to get into position. The waiting guests quickly crowded into the front hall, shushing each other as they jostled for position. Moments later, there was a light knock on the door.
“Come on in,” Mike called from the living room.
As soon as the door opened, a thunderous shout of “Bon Voyage” filled the air. Beth and Jerry stopped short in the doorway. Cara watched them survey the crowd, waiting for Beth to lock eyes with her. When she did, both of them smiled through held-back tears.
Jerry put his arm around his wife, and she turned to smile at him. He gave her a gentle squeeze, then they faced their friends and family again. Beth covered her mouth with her hand, trying to get control of her emotions. Then she gently touched her belly.
“We’re not going.”
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