Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SEA CHANGE or TREE CHANGE (07/13/17)
TITLE: A Change of Mind
By Nicki Jeffery
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Glass shattered as brakes squealed.
Carmel woke up in a lather of perspiration. Again. If only the recurring nightmare wasn’t real. But it happened. Six months ago he died and her world stopped.
“Get out of the city.” Her friends advised.
“A sea change is what you need.”
“Or how about a tree change? That’s a thing these days.”
Carmel couldn’t think but she found herself acting on impulse. The driver of the first red sports car to pull up at her Manly, northern Sydney apartment was the buyer. And before she knew it, she was flying north looking for properties.
“This is exciting!” her best friend, Nerida, typed an address into her iPhone map app.
Carmel gripped the rent-a-car steering wheel tentatively.
“Valla rural, here we come!”
‘She’s too enthusiastic about everything.’ Carmel thought to herself. ‘And you’re never enthusiastic. Not even before Brad died.’
Carmel shook her head. That negative self-talk was always playing in the background of her mind, like an old cassette tape.
The hidden acreage was perfect. A meandering creek through the eucalypts and pine trees. A family of ducks on the dam bank. A four-bedroom home with mountain views and billowing smoke from the wood heater.
“I’ll come up every fortnight.” Nerida had promised after the move was complete. “And I’ll work on Garry. We’ll be retiring up here in two years max.”
And with a kiss on the cheek and a warm hug, she was gone.
Carmel dipped her feet into the creek from her spot on the muddy banks one morning. The cool water grounded her after another nightmare. She had figured the bad dreams would cease when she left the city. No more car tyres skidding. No more yelling. Peace.
Carmel sighed. ‘Of course you’re having nightmares. You’ve still got the same brain and the same memories. That will never change. And what did your counsellor say to you? You focus on the negative. That’s your thinking style.’
Nearby, the duck family slid down from the tufts of grass and into the brown water. Mother duck followed by four fluffy ducklings, with father bringing up the rear. A cow mooed in the distance. Sheep bleated and one of the ducks quacked.
Carmel tried to smile, but all she could manage was a weak grin.
The car careening down the bumpy driveway was right on time. It had been two weeks. Carmel didn’t arise from her knitting – she would finish her row of purl and Nerida would let herself in.
Moments later there was a knock on the door. “Mum?”
Carmel struggled to breathe.
The young man opened the squeaky door and made his way to the lounge room.
Carmel whispered, “Kevin.”
Enfolded in a bear hug, time stopped.
“Mum, I’ve missed you.” Still inside his embrace, Carmel glimpsed her favourite photograph of her identical twin boys. Kevin’s arm slung over Brad’s shoulder, and they both smiled with missing front teeth.
She let the tears fall.
Over mugs of steaming coffee, they talked well into the night. The warm brew and the conversation felt soothing to her broken heart. And in bed that night, she thought about her tree change.
‘You know what, Carmel? This tree change is the beginning. You are going to undergo a mind change too. Starting with being thankful for the son you still have.’
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b, 14 NIV.
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