Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BAGGAGE (02/08/18)
TITLE: The Gift
By C D Swanson
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The recording on the answering machine relayed a familiar refrain, “You have no new messages.”
Slumping into a high backed red leather chair, his thoughts raced as he rubbed his throbbing temples. “Perhaps a Chamomile tea and something to eat could put an end to this misery.”
He liked his job. Giving inspirational talks to thousands of people, it was an easy and lucrative living. Yet, he felt empty, restless. He couldn’t explain—maybe because he didn’t understand it himself.
Week after week, he traveled to different parts of the country. It was repetitive, and perfunctory at best, yet it was what people wanted.
However, clearly, there was something missing in his life. Sometimes he felt unexplained fear, “was it anxiety?”
The knock on the door brought him to his feet. “Hang on.”
“Good evening sir, your dinner.”
The young man smiled at the generous tip.
Ken sat down at the round white table which wobbled enough to disturb him, a perfectionist. He quickly tore a piece of napkin, and placed it under a leg. “There that should do it.”
The cold mashed potatoes plastered on the plate weren’t appealing; the same went for the leathery looking pork chops. Pushing his plate aside, he opted to drink the salty chicken soup, and eat the stale crackers. “Wow, this may be the worst dinner I’ve had in a long time.”
He thought of his life. He never thought he’d be an inspirational speaker. It wasn’t something on his radar, nor was it a dream of his. He fell into it when a friend asked him to “fill-in” for a person who took ill. Ken became an overnight sensation—it was almost like a fairy-tale—birthing a career that was neither planned—nor expected.
He threw a handful of Tums into his mouth and grimaced, then replayed a scene which swirled through his mind on a daily basis, usually at the close of each day. The chalky substance coated his mouth. He clumsily gulped down water causing great big splotches unto his shirt. The image immediately brought a smile to his lips. He heard her voice again. It was real each time he turned on thoughts of Robin.
“Ken, I’m so sorry, it’s only water it shouldn’t stain.” Robin reached for a nearby napkin with her delicate hands. “Here, let me blot it…this should absorb it before it has a chance to stain.”
“It’s okay. It’s only a shirt. Don’t worry about it. In fact, it’s not a favorite of mine; I hope it stains so I can toss it away.”
Her face dropped as she pouted her full lips.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“I bought this shirt for your birthday, remember?”
Ken thought quickly, “That was a joke sweetheart. I merely said that hoping to detract you from feeling upset about what happened. I love this shirt, and I love you.”
Her emerald eyes watched him intently. “I know silly. I was pretending—you’re not the only one who can act—I love you too.”
That was the last time he saw her. She disappeared from his life way too abruptly. He remembered hearing it on the news: “And now a sad turn of events, news anchor, Robin Thomas, has vanished without a trace. Last seen at a local restaurant, she never returned home, and authorities have given up hope as the search draws to a close.”
He shut his eyes willing the images and words from his mind.
The morning arrived quickly. After a shower, and continental breakfast, Ken grabbed hold of his weathered baggage.
The next gig sold out within one hour of going on sale.
“How do I go on when I feel empty, fearful, restless…and useless? How can I come across realistically?”
That night, when Ken walked onto the stage, he realized he was searching for that which he had all along. He felt a sense of peace, and empowerment, which was beyond explanation, and a new found confidence, that was different.
The spotlight shined on Ken and he felt warmth, God’s Spirit, and love, a gift from above. He finally was ready to move on.
“Tonight, let’s begin with 2 Timothy 1:7.”
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