Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FRAGILE (02/23/17)
- TITLE: The Day Reality Changed
By Jenny Fulton
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Jack slowly opened his eyes to the light’s presence. His body was exhausted and desperately cried for sleep. The mind, however, was restless. Tormenting thoughts catapulted through his consciousness with such force that no amount of sleep could dull them.
They had fought. Again. And now, per the pre-established pattern, Madelyn was in the living room, sound asleep on the couch.
A buzzing sound interrupted his contemplations.
She must have set the alarm on her phone, Jack thought.
Figuring she may want to know her alarm had gone off, he rolled across the bed, retrieved the phone from the nightstand, and tapped the screen to turn the alarm off.
The screen lit up but, instead of displaying the image of a blinking alarm clock, it showed, on a big, yellow screen, a text message that in one momentary glance, sent Jack’s world crashing down around him.
He looked again, wishing desperately that he was still asleep, that the words he’d read were not really there.
But they were, bright and clear, in all their lewd explicitness.
Maybe someone got the wrong number, he thought desperately. Maybe it’s all one big mistake, one big misunderstanding.
Fighting to remain calm, Jack maneuvered his way through Madelyn’s messages and as he did, his hopes of an honest mistake completely disappeared. This message had been only one of a long stream of similar messages that stretched further and further back into the past.
His eyes blurred. His head spun. Pain gripped his heart.
Rejecting the pain, he channeled its energy into anger. The world came back into focus.
He grabbed the phone, jumped out of bed, and threw open the bedroom door.
“What is this?” he yelled.
Madelyn’s eyes shot wide open.
“What is this?” he yelled again. He closed the distance between them and placed the phone directly before her eyes.
“I… I occasionally get weird messages,” Madelyn said lamely.
“Dozens? From the same number? Do you think I’m stupid?”
Madelyn grew quiet and her eyes dropped. Finally, she lifted them and said, “Don’t hate him. He’s a good Christian man.”
Jack’s mouth fell open in disbelief. Although he’d been raised in a Christian home, he’d left the faith long ago, back when his academic abilities had brought him to the conclusion that Christianity was for those who didn’t understand quantum physics. Notwithstanding his long-held position, he knew from his upbringing that a “good Christian man” did not have an affair with another man’s wife.
With his eyes blazing and his heart still burning, Jack threw the phone at his wife of eleven years and left to get ready for work, hoping he would be able to lose himself in his job as he usually did.
Work, however, provided no relief. The morning taunted him, tormented him.
He left early and returned home in hopes of being able to talk things out with Madelyn.
She was gone.
His soul twisted in anguish and a cry rang out from some forgotten place deep within. “God, if you are real, then either find me or leave me the hell alone!”
In response, a single word came to his mind.
It was the name of his neighbor.
Having no energy left to doubt, Jack ran out the door and two houses down to where Dan and his wife Brenda lived. They seem like good, Christianly people, he thought, though truth be told, he had never had more than the most basic of conversations with them.
He knocked at the door, hardly knowing what to expect.
Dan opened it, took one look at him, and said, “You’re having marital trouble, aren’t you?”
Jack gaped. There was no way Dan could have known. At that moment, his world changed yet again. Oh my, he thought. There is a God and I’ve been an idiot.
This is a fictionalized account of a true story. Although the situation with his wife deteriorated to the point of divorce after she became engaged to the man she had been seeing, “Jack” turned to a full-hearted pursuit of God. He began attending church regularly, joined the choir, enrolled in a local seminary, and, in less than two years, knew more about God’s word than I had learned in two decades.
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