Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FRESH START (01/05/17)
TITLE: The Catalyst
By Dannie Hawley
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Dad knocked. No time to extinguish the cigarette. Holding the Marlborough Light behind my back, I opened the door.
ââ‚¬Å“Hi, Punkin! Thought you might like these.ââ‚¬ Dad held out a slim vase with two pink roses. ââ‚¬Å“Theyââ‚¬â„¢re silk. Look real, donââ‚¬â„¢t they?ââ‚¬
The lump in my throat choked my response. ââ‚¬Å“Theyââ‚¬â„¢re beautiful, Daddy.ââ‚¬
As soon as my right hand grasped the vase, my father turned to leave. ââ‚¬Å“Canââ‚¬â„¢t stay. Got some for Mom, too.ââ‚¬
Closing the door, tears of shame streaked my cheeks. I snuffed out the cigarette as I passed the ashtray.
After downing the liquor, I clenched Dadââ‚¬â„¢s flowers and sobbed. What in the world am I doing?
Five years earlier, Iââ‚¬â„¢d committed my life to the Lord. The previous spring, Iââ‚¬â„¢d completed a graduate course in Christian Studies. Iââ‚¬â„¢d never been a smoker or drinker.
However, for almost seven months, Iââ‚¬â„¢d been living the truth of First Corinthians 15:33. ââ‚¬Å“Do not be misled: ââ‚¬ËœBad company corrupts good character.ââ‚¬â„¢ââ‚¬ Though not a Christian, my roommate loved people, and everyone loved her. How could a good person be bad company?
Suddenly, Barb* bounded through the door. ââ‚¬Å“Hey, get your boots on, Cowgirl. Guys are waiting for us at the Old Wrangler*!ââ‚¬
Country music exploded into the night, as we crossed the threshold. My lack of proficiency with the Texas Two-Step didnââ‚¬â„¢t hinder my fun. Most of the young guys who asked me to dance had little rhythm anyway.
Two hours later, a half-drunk, fifty-something man pulled back the chair next to me. ââ‚¬Å“How ââ‚¬Ëœbout I buy you a drink, Darlinââ‚¬â„¢?ââ‚¬
I raised my half-full glass. ââ‚¬Å“No thanks.ââ‚¬
Before I knew it, the unwanted visitor pulled me out of my chair. ââ‚¬Å“Okay. Letââ‚¬â„¢s dance.ââ‚¬
ââ‚¬Å“Donââ‚¬â„¢t think so, Bucko. Youââ‚¬â„¢re older than my father.ââ‚¬
His arms engulfed me. Swaying to the music, the stranger weaved our locked bodies onto the dance floor. Just give up. Itââ‚¬â„¢s only one dance.
Before the music stopped, the drunkard pressed his body hard against mine, his desire apparent. Yanking my hands from his grasp, I placed them on his chest and shoved with all my strength. ââ‚¬Å“Not gonna happen, cowboy. Find someone else.ââ‚¬
The rest of the night, I nursed one drink after another but never left the table. The encounter frightened me more than Iââ‚¬â„¢d admit.
Sometime after one oââ‚¬â„¢clock, we made our way home. Gingerly, I crawled to the center of my double bed, clinging hard to the mattress edge on both sides. Iââ‚¬â„¢d discovered the position kept my spinning head from tossing me to the floor.
ââ‚¬Å“Lord, help me. I hate what Iââ‚¬â„¢m doing.ââ‚¬ The image of my father handing me the roses popped into my mind, unleashing a torrent of tears. ââ‚¬Å“My parents would die if they could see me now. Some Christian witness, huh?
ââ‚¬Å“God, Iââ‚¬â„¢m so ashamed. I want to change, butââ‚¬¦ . Please, help me!ââ‚¬
Two days later, my supervisor interrupted my transcribing. ââ‚¬Å“Phone call at the main desk. Make it short.ââ‚¬
Pleasantries exchanged, my old university friend, a county attorney, got to the point. ââ‚¬Å“Iââ‚¬â„¢m Vice-Chairman of the hospital board in the town of Jordan. When can you meet with us to discuss becoming our hospital administrator?ââ‚¬
ââ‚¬Å“Youââ‚¬â„¢ve got to be kidding, Doug! What do I know about running a hospital?ââ‚¬
ââ‚¬Å“I recommended you because I know youââ‚¬â„¢re a hard worker. Youââ‚¬â„¢ve been around hospitals and medical stuff your entire working life, right? Weââ‚¬â„¢ll send you to the course to get licensed. Besides, God will help you.ââ‚¬
His last words sent a chill down my spine. He has no idea how my life has changed. Will God still help me? ââ‚¬Å“Iââ‚¬â„¢ll come for the interview but no promises. Itââ‚¬â„¢ll be great to see you and Cathy again.ââ‚¬
Returning to my desk, I struggled to focus on the dictation my fingers banged out. The last time Iââ‚¬â„¢d been with Cathy and Doug, Jesus meant everything to me. Beads of sweat moistened my upper lip. Was this Godââ‚¬â„¢s answer? Hope filled my heart.
Three weeks later, with everything I owned packed into my car, I turned onto the Interstate. ââ‚¬Å“Thank you, Father God!ââ‚¬ I shouted. ââ‚¬Å“Iââ‚¬â„¢m crossing over to Jordan and beginning again.ââ‚¬
For several decades, the silk roses stood as a beautiful reminder of the powerful love of two fathers.
A true story
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