Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MARRIAGE (08/25/16)
- TITLE: Too Old for Drama
By M. C. Syben
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I’m expecting company; a first date is driving a long way to see me. I want my breath to be perfect, so I booked a teeth cleaning. Who knows, stranger things have happened. He could be Mr. Right.
A new dental office with an unfamiliar dental hygienist makes me more nervous than my impending visitor.
“Hello. My name is Brenda. Follow me.”
I’m led to a small, bland room with one window. A leather dental chair sits in the middle with a tray of tools by its side. A lamp hangs overhead.
“Go ahead, sit down.”
This is the first time I’ve had dental work done at my new home in the North Carolina Smokey’s. Will this gal do a good, painless job?
“Let’s see what we have here. Open wide. Ooo weee, looks like we been on a picnic.”
I had brushed my teeth and flossed before coming, but some old caps act as food traps. She must be digging deep. Although I’m embarrassed, she seems thorough.
Brenda tells me about her life. “…Oh, yes, I married young. Actually, married my high school sweet heart, DeWayne.”
Of course, with my mouth wide open, I can only reply “Ahhh” in various tones of response.
“We’d actually known each other all our lives in church. We married at eighteen. Our plan was to wait five years before we had a baby and doncha know, five months later, I was pregnant.”
“Yep, and I was on the pill!”
“Well, we thought it was meant to be, what with his diabetes and my heart problems; it was a miracle.”
“What, you say? Oh, yes, I was always in and out of the hospital as a girl with operations on my heart. And DeWayne with his diabetes…he was so skinny. Miracle we got pregnant at all, and we had a perfect baby girl. Just wonderful. The Lord truly blessed us.”
“We had a wonderful life together.” At this point, this very young thirty-sh looking gal stopped working, got in my face, nose to nose, and said, “and then DeWayne DIED.”
“He DIED. DeWayne died.”
By now, I’m invested in what was a lovely story. My eyes water. My saliva runs over.
“Here, close your lips around this.”
While the sucker relieves the goopy buildup in my mouth, my mind is a tornado of prayers for this young widow, mother, tortured soul. How can she be working? How can she be so calm? What faith this woman must have to carry on with life.
“You ready? You ready to go on?”
“I…I was about to ask you the same thing. What killed Dwayne?”
“He died of the diabetes. He had already lost a foot…problems with his eyes. This time, we got him to the hospital too late. Doctors came out and told me. I went into shock. They slapped me in the hospital. It was like a strange dream losing my DeWayne. We been married eighteen years.”
I have the time line wrong. I suddenly realize that as I get older, people tend to look younger to me. This girl must be thirty-six?
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Oh, don’t be sorry. I’m long over it. It was six years ago.”
Now, I feel duped. My wrenched heart experienced a drama not in the present tense, but in the past.
“Open up. Anyway, I’ve remarried. In fact, I married DeWayne’s best friend.”
“You won’t believe what his name is.”
I don’t emit a sound. I just stare into her eyes.
“Oh ah Ahd.”
“I know. Can you imagine? I been married to Wayne five years now, and I still have trouble remembering to call him Wayne and not DeWayne. But he’s so sweet. He tells me, ‘Brenda, I don’t care whether you call me DeWayne or Wayne, just so long as you call me.’ But I’m trying to get better. Mind you, it’s not the same marriage as with DeWayne. It’s different. But Wayne is very sweet.”
At this point, I rinse out my mouth, emotionally exhausted. However, the mirror reflects the best cleaning I ever received in my life. I will return to Brenda for that reason and wonder if she has any more engaging stories in her repertoire.
As for my visitor? He was rebounding from a relationship—not yet ready for dating let alone marriage. Me? I’ve learned I’m far too old for drama.
Fiction (based on a true story)
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