Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TEXTING (05/18/17)
TITLE: An Act of Love
By Leola Ogle
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Adam and Candace met at the canning factory. She was an assembler and he was a supervisor – the son of the owner. He was kind, steady, gentle, quiet, and a tad homely. She was pretty, flirtatious, energetic, troubled and looking for a way out of poverty and an abusive home life.
Adam was her ticket out. He was shy and tongue-tied around her. He expressed his attraction through texts – shared the longings of his heart through texting. He was swept away by her seductive charm – caught in a current stronger than a tsunami. His head hadn’t stopped spinning by the time they were married. He counted his blessings as three babies came the first five years – Caroline, Jack, and Joey.
There was a storm brewing in Candace that Adam was unaware of. While she had everything she thought she wanted – a nice home, a loving husband, beautiful children, money for luxuries – she was not happy.
Happiness cannot be had through externals if the misery is internal – a truth Candace hadn’t grasped.
In the neighborhood gathering of women, Candace complained that Adam was boring and ugly. “He never wants to do anything fun. He’s content to work all day and then be at home playing with the kids. I want excitement.”
She sarcastically referred to him as Toad. The women sighed in empathy. When Candace began flirting with their husbands, their empathy ceased as abruptly as a severed power cord.
How long Candace and Allison’s husband, Dylan, had been carrying on, no one knew for sure. Allison showed up on Adam’s front porch one morning waving Dylan’s cellphone in the air. “Dylan left his phone when he went to the hardware store this morning.” Allison’s voice trembled and her eyes glistened with tears. “Hardware store!” she snorted. “I picked the phone up when it dinged. It was a text from Candace telling him she was on her way. Where did Candace tell you she was going?”
Adam shrugged, the blood draining from his face. The words “To the grocery store” stuck in his throat. He tried to picture Dylan, but couldn’t. He was on a wave-as-you-come-and-go relationship with the neighbors. Candace was the social butterfly. He wasn’t.
While he stewed about whether to confront Candace with Allison’s discovery, the decision was resolved by Allison confronting Dylan, who came to the house to tell Candace. “Pack your stuff, sweetheart. We’re getting outta here,” Dylan told her, ignoring Adam standing there.
While Candace packed, curiosity and the need to know, like an unseen force, drove Adam to grab Candace’s cellphone off the counter and check her text messages. Dylan sneered. Adam blanched. It wasn’t just words, but photos too graphic for the imagination – images that burned into his brain like acid.
He dropped the phone just as Candace came stomping into the room, suitcase in hand, and snatched up the phone. “Bye, Toad. You can have the kids.”
Toad? That first week, Adam was sure Candace would come back. His mother came to help with the kids, but after three weeks – weeks of commiserating with Allison – his mother returned home.
“I can help,” Allison said. Tears sprang to her eyes, as they did most days. “That’s one of the last cruel things Dylan said to me. ‘You can’t even have babies, Allison.’” She swiped at her eyes. “I can’t, Adam. But Dylan saying that was like a knife in my heart.”
Candace and Dylan lasted six months. Dylan came home to Allison, who kicked him out. Candace breezed in to say hello to the kids, but she already had a new fellow waiting in the car for her.
Two years later, Allison and Adam married. Caroline, Jack, and Joey already thought of her as mother. As often happens, the years were kind to Adam, and he became quite handsome. Allison told him the toad became a prince.
For the next five years Candace had a succession of men, stopping by to see the kids once or twice a year. Adam and Allison were deeply in love and happy. Then the rain fell on their parade. Candace notified them via text that she was dying from lung cancer.
Love stories have many facets. Candace spent her remaining weeks in Adam’s home, cared for by Allison, and surrounded by her children. For Adam and Allison, it was true forgiveness, an act of love.
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