Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MARRIAGE (08/25/16)
- TITLE: Eight-Fifty-Nine
By Joe Moreland
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To be fair, it was my idea. We paid a daily cash bonus to every employee who was working before nine in the morning, after which we locked the doors and didn’t open them again until nine-thirty. It actually made things a bit fun and competitive to see who would get in early and who wouldn’t.
Even more important, the game had the bonus effect of keeping me and Dave from getting upset at the late arrivals. We actually would high-five each other over getting to lock the door at the stroke of nine on some poor sap trying to make a run for it at the last second. The only thing better than that was one of us getting to “throw the lock”, as we called it, on the other.
I looked at my watch as I sprinted for the door. Eight-fifty-nine.
I could see Dave’s evil grin on the other side of the glass, his hand on the key as it rested in the lock, his wristwatch held up in front of his face as he counted down the seconds to nine o’clock. I snatched the door’s handle and ripped it open before he had a chance to turn the key.
“Ha! Made it!”
“Just barely--slacker.” Dave was keenly disappointed. I had locked him out the day before, so he really wanted to get even. He claimed I gloated. Which I totally did not. Unless you count dancing around in a circle, laughing and pointing while eating the last donut, gloating. Which I don’t.
“You’re lucky I made it. Otherwise you’d be doing the group interview at ten.”
“How do you figure? You’d only be locked out for a half-hour.”
“If I had gotten locked out I would have taken it as a sign from God that He wanted me to go back home and sleep until, oh, I don’t know--noon?”
I jabbed my finger at Dave’s enormous chest and looked him right in the chin.
“Gloated. Owww! Let go of my finger!”
Dave hated doing the interviews. Speaking in public was not his thing. Really not his thing. Dry mouth, jittery stomach and complete loss of words were just a few of his symptoms.
By ten o’clock our presentation room was filled with potential applicants and I was ready to get started. I strolled confidently into the room and turned to face the group, opening my mouth to speak.
Every word I could think of simply slipped out of my head and fell to the floor where they pooled, ankle-deep, around my feet. I think I said something profound like, “Uhhh…”
Sitting on the first row, closest to the door (so she could make a quick escape, I presume), sat the woman of my dreams. She had a smile that touched her eyes and seemed to make her face glow. I seriously couldn’t look away. I’m sure it made her, and the rest of the group, uncomfortable.
Dave told me later that I hesitated for only a moment, and it was barely noticeable, but, I swear, an entire conversation took place inside my head. It went something like this:
“Close your mouth, idiot! You look like an imbecile! And why did you wear that sweater today?”
“I can’t help it, she’s so pretty! What’s wrong with the sweater?”
“It looks like you were attacked by a shag carpet--and, she’s more than pretty.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean. You can tell. She’s more. She’s smart; she’s funny; she’s got a great heart; she’s going to be a great wife, an incredible mother. That’s the one. She’s ‘The One.’”
“‘The One?’ We haven’t even met yet!”
“I’m telling you, she’s ‘The ONE!’. I swear, if you screw this up, I’ll kill you!”
“Ha! Well, the joke’s on you! If you kill me you’ll be dead, too--and who will marry ‘The One’ then?”
“I’m not kidding. Do not mess this up!”
Believe it or not, that’s pretty much how the conversation went. I did make several attempts to mess things up, but between ‘other me’, and her forgiving nature, I survived.
Twenty-nine years, and four grown kids later, it turns out that ‘Other Me’ was right about everything--including the sweater (which was the first thing she made me get rid of).
Thank God for eight-fifty-nine.
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