Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PROCRASTINATE (08/04/16)
- TITLE: Stage Four
By Francy Judge
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“Good afternoon, Mr. Turner…Mrs. Turner.” I shake their hands. They stare at me with wide eyes and creased foreheads. “I’ll get right to it: I have good news and bad news.”
Mr. Turner takes his wife’s hand in his.
“You both have stage four Procrastinitis.”
Mrs. Turner bursts into tears. “Oh, God, no!”
“How did we both get the same disease?”
“It is contagious.”
As Mrs. Turner sobs, Mr. Turner strokes her arm. “Everything will be okay, dear. We just have to trust God…and we haven’t heard the good news.”
I cleared my throat. “The good news is that I am an expert in this field, having overcome the disease myself years ago. I can help you. I recommend you start treatment immediately.”
“Yes, whatever you say.”
“How is today at 3:00 PM?”
They huddle together. Mrs. Turner pulls out her calendar and shakes her head.
Mr. Turner answers for both of them. “I’m sorry. Today isn’t convenient.”
“How is tomorrow?”
They huddle again. “No, tomorrow won’t work either. We are free next Friday. I think.”
"Can you come here at 9:00?”
“AM or PM?”
“AM. Do you understand how important it is that you don’t waste any time? Intense treatment sessions are imperative to your recovery.”
“Yes, but 9:00 AM is too early. We can come at 1:00PM.”
“Okay, fine. See you then.” As I shut the door to leave, my phone sings “You’re an overcomer…” My theme song and slightly embarrassing ringtone.
My wife, Lauren, decides to text instead.
“Remember…dinner with my parents tonight. I know you’ll be tempted to sharpen a hundred pencils and call every patient, but please don’t give in and let even a sneeze of your illness return. Come straight home. I love you.”
I put the pencils back in my desk and close the appointment book. "Lord, lift my feet out of here and take away this urge to drive the long way home.”
Friday morning, 1:15PM: The office is quiet other than the humming air conditioner. I tap my pencil fifty-five times before I call Mr. Turner.
“Hello?” His voice sounds raspy.
“Mr. Turner, did you forget you had an appointment today?”
“Of course not.”
“Then why aren’t you here?”
“My wife and I can’t leave until we find the cat and the front door. They have both disappeared.”
“Your disease is progressing. Do you mind if I may a house call?”
“Are you sure you want to come here? It’s a bit messy.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes to help you. I care about my patients.”
My heart sinks as I pull into their gravel driveway. Weeds as tall as newly planted trees dominate the grass. Some roof shingles dangle from a corner. Most of the window screens are torn and flap in the breeze. I imagine these are projects they put off until the right tomorrow came—but it never did.
I knock. And knock again.
A faint “Come in!” calls from a back room. I try to push the door open, but piles of boxes block the entrance. I shove it open with my heel and squeeze through the narrow opening.
“Mr. Turner? Mrs. Turner?”
“We’re here, stuck in the hallway.”
“What are you doing with all these boxes?”
“We were going to clean and start a knitwear business, tomorrow.”
I make a path through clothes mounds, twenty bags of knit hats, scarves, and blankets, cat climbing toys, take-out food bags, and lift the broken door that is blocking the hallway.
Mrs. Turner’s hair is a scraggly mess, and her clothes, wrinkled. “Have you seen Mittens?”
After three hours of rearranging boxes and tossing garbage, we hear a cry from the bedroom. Mittens had fallen between loose floor boards.
My heart aches to see this couple suffering with procrastinitis. I slide clothes off the couch and sit with them, explaining the steps to recovery. “The first step is to remove the words tomorrow and later from your vocabulary and replace them with today and now. When you’re able to master this step, you’ll be on your way to a healthier life. It won’t be easy, but you can do it.”
They pray, “Lord Jesus, please return soon, so we don’t have to clean this mess.”
At least they didn’t say “Tomorrow.”
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