Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FAMILY (01/21/16)
TITLE: The Absent Husband
By Nicki Jeffery
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Sarah sighed as her husband backed out of the driveway. She forced a smile when he waved and sped off. Turning to her two young sons, she bit her lip and willed the tears not to fall. But they did.
It was always the same. He disappeared, joy spelled out on his face like tinsel brightening a Christmas tree. And Sarah stood, numb, alone.
Dinner, bath time, stories, bed. Keeping the boys in routine. Folding clothes watching television. Sipping camomile tea. Wondering how late Brad would be up.
“He’s the absent father,” Sarah declared.
“The husband you have when you don’t have a husband.” Mary agreed. Sarah’s silver-haired neighbour gave her an empathetic half-smile.
Jordan and Will were bouncing on the trampoline, squealing with delight.
“I thought we would be a family when we came to live here. But I’m practically a single Mum.”
Mary patted Sarah’s bony shoulder and handed her a bag of clothes. “Have a look through these, love. I couldn’t resist the overalls. They’re Oshkosh B’gosh brand.”
“Thank you.” Sarah smiled weakly.
Mary sorted clothes at a local op shop and was constantly bringing Sarah treasures for her boys. Each garbage bag of donated goods once belonged to a family. Each item told a story.
Standing in church trying to keep Jordan and Will within arm’s reach, Sarah glimpsed couples worshipping. It had long been her desire to hold her husband’s hand in church. What kind of men would her sons grow up to be with Brad’s example? Or, more to the point, without it.
“Good morning, Sarah.” Rebecca and Wendy greeted.
“Hi,” Sarah wearily replied, as she dragged Will into the crèche room.
“Brad away again?” Rebecca asked, spooning strawberry yoghurt into her toddler’s mouth.
Rebecca’s expression showed her concern.
“Let us know if you need anything,” Wendy offered, bouncing her baby girl on her knees. “A meal, some washing folded?”
That night, Sarah kneeled beside their queen bed, hands clasped in prayer. She didn’t know what to say to God. As she thought about not being a family due to Brad’s absence, and not having family around, faces came to mind. There was Mary, and her church friends. They were standing in a circle around her and her sons.
A shrill ring pierced the silence.
Sarah jumped and reached for the handheld phone. “Hello?”
“Oh, it’s just me. How are you, love?” Mary’s warmth came through the line.
“I’m okay … just missing Brad.”
Mary paused and swallowed, “Sarah, you know I say what I think. Brad’s a good man. He’s doing what he can to provide for your family.”
“It’s just not what I imagined my family to be like. And not having my Dad and Mum and siblings around.”
“It’s all in our perspective, dear. We can choose to be thankful for what we have, or regretful of what we feel we don’t have. I know I can’t replace your Mum. But the people God has placed in your sphere of influence can be your family.”
Sarah found herself smiling as she pondered what God had just shown her before Mary rang, and what Mary was now saying.
“Thanks for being my family.”
The front door squeaked open as keys jangled in the lock. Sarah glanced at the bedside clock. 3:15am. The fridge shut.
Microwave whirred. Presently, the shower ran.
Brad tiptoed around into his side of their bed.
“Welcome home,” Sarah whispered “How was the drive?”
Brad pulled his wife into his strong arms. “Uneventful. Steve’s taking the load up to Brisbane. So I’m all yours for the next day or so.”
Sarah nuzzled into his neck. Being married to a long haul truck driver who loved his job was her reality. But she didn’t have to view it as a prison sentence.
As she drifted back to sleep in his embrace, a Bible verse came to mind, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
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