Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: LUST (all-consuming desire; excessive craving) (01/08/15)
- TITLE: Opulence
By Leola Ogle
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The room always had a mesmerizing effect on Betty.
As a young, poor, but very beautiful small-town girl, she had sold her hopes, dreams, and her innocence for this. Expensive possessions gave her an adrenaline rush, and warm, fuzzy feelings.
Now she felt cold and empty. And old. But eighty is old.
She had lusted for wealth. Colin Agath – eighteen years older and twice married – had lusted for her. He wanted her enough to leave wife number two and marry her.
Betty’s marriage to Colin had been lonely and miserable. She learned a husband who cheated with her would cheat on her. So she gave him the freedom to pursue his conquests, and he showered her with things – expensive things. She told herself it was enough.
But it wasn’t.
Colin’s ex-wives and children hated her. So she had two children with Colin to help keep control of the wealth. Her son and daughter were also driven by lust and greed. What did she expect? They were just like her and Colin.
Sorrow and regret sucked at her as she stood in her opulent closet. Viewing her possessions didn’t bring her happiness like it used to. These things hadn’t brought love and companionship to her. Even at the end of Colin’s life, there had been no warmth between them.
A year ago she had been in the hospital. The doctors weren’t sure she would make it. And the vultures began to circle, their mouths drooling with anticipation.
Except for her granddaughter, Vanessa. Vanessa, who bounced with cheerfulness, spouting verses from the Bible and wanting to, “Pray for you, Grandma.”
Betty wanted to slap that smile right off Vanessa’s face. Her granddaughter was so giddy with joy, Betty was surprised she didn’t sprout angel wings and fly around the room sprinkling pixie dust on everyone. How did this family produce someone as nutty as Vanessa, anyway?
Prayer, indeed! The audacity of her granddaughter. Didn’t Vanessa realize that Betty had enough money to get the best medical care available? She told Vanessa to leave, take her chipper attitude and preachy-mouth with her, and not come back. Good riddance.
Betty showed them all. She lived. The vultures went sulking home. And when Betty was strong enough, she went shopping. Shopping always lifted her spirits. She bought a new diamond necklace.
Betty fingered that necklace now. It was beautiful and worth thousands. She held it against her neck and studied her reflection in the mirror. The beauty of the necklace couldn’t hide the ravages of age. Betty closed her eyes, and wondered how different her life would’ve been if she married Bud, her high school sweetheart. The irony of time was that there’s no reversing it.
The front doorbell rang and Betty placed the necklace back in its velvet-lined drawer. She heard Rose, her housekeeper, open the door. She couldn’t quite make out the conversation as muffled words floated up the stairs.
Betty sighed as footsteps bounded up the stairs. She didn’t turn when she felt a presence in the room. Hands touched her shoulders, then arms enveloped her in a hug.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Grandma?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
Thank the good Lord that Vanessa hadn’t left her alone. She continued to visit and eventually won Betty with her sincere, persistent love. Now Betty went to church with Vanessa. It was a small church with a kind and gentle pastor, boisterous kids, noisy teenagers, and sweet people.
Betty loved it.
The women’s group was doing an outreach to the poorer women in the community. Lunch would be served and everyone would pick a new outfit. Betty was donating shoes and clothing. Let the family fight over the jewelry once she was gone.
“Let’s box it all up, Vanessa. Whatever made me think I needed all this? It’s so much, just so much.”
Contentment and peace filled Betty’s heart with a warm glow. She was truly happy for the first time in her life.
Vanessa chuckled, kissed her grandmother’s cheek, gave her another hug, and said, “Then let’s get it done.”
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