Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ANNOYED (04/05/18)
TITLE: The Park Bench
By Leola Ogle
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Traffic wasn’t all that annoyed her. Simon. His woeful eyes as she left that morning. “You’ve changed so much, Megs.” Megs. His childish nickname for her. He was childish. Life was all about growth. She had grown and Simon hadn’t. That was the problem. Now everything about him seemed to irritate her.
She honked again just as her car made a groaning rattle and died. “Terrific. What else can go wrong?” Her voice vibrated with irritation. She called roadside assistance, then her office. With an exaggerated sigh, she exited the car. The car behind her honked and she glared. Obviously, there was an accident or road closure of some kind and no one was going anywhere.
She found a bench in the small park next to the street. An older woman was sitting on one end of the bench. She smiled at Megan. Megan smiled, hiding her annoyance. Everything and everyone irritated her lately.
“Good morning. Lovely day. My name’s Ola. What’s yours?”
Megan grimaced. She – Ola – had opened a Bible. That was another annoying thing about Simon. He had been going to church lately. He even asked her to go, reminding her they had met in their church youth group. She didn’t need God, church, or the Bible.
“I’m Megan. I don’t mean to be aloof but it’s been a strenuous morning. Isn’t it early to be at the park?”
Ola pressed the Bible to her chest. “I come here every day. I have memories in this park. I lost my little girl here.”
Megan felt trapped in the scene from Forrest Gump where he sat on a bus bench telling his story to whoever was sitting beside him. “You lost your daughter?”
Ola nodded. “Do you have children?”
“No.” Unexpected guilt surged through Megan. Simon had stopped asking about starting a family. In the early days, it was their dream – at least two children and a home in the country. Now she was climbing the corporate ladder.
Ola’s eyes got a faraway look. “I was young and pretty and had dreams of being an actress. I did summer plays. I starred in a few commercials.” She mentioned some well-known name brands. Ola chuckled. “Other commercials replaced mine many years ago.” She sighed. “I met Frederic. French, handsome, and so very charming. He was a cameraman. When I knew I was pregnant, we got married. My Paulette was beautiful and precocious, but I felt cheated. Like life had robbed me of my dreams.”
Megan shuddered. It was her fear – if she did things Simon’s way, her goals would be unfulfilled. But when had her goals changed?
“How old was Paulette when you lost her? What happened?”
“She was three. We brought her here to play, but we were arguing. I wanted to go to Hollywood and Frederic didn’t. I threatened to go alone. For my big break, you know. I didn’t notice Paulette rush past us chasing a ball, but Frederic did. He grabbed her just as she stepped into the street. A truck careened around the corner, hitting them both.”
Tears hung on Ola’s eyelashes. “In that instant, I realized what was truly important. It wasn’t my career. Do you have a career, Megan? What’s important to you?”
Sorrow started close to Megan’s heart and spread out. What if something happened to Simon? She did love him. Where had she gone wrong? “So you found God through what happened?” Megan pointed at the Bible.
“At first, I blamed God. How could he let this happen? The hospital chaplain helped me – pointed me toward God.” Ola’s eyes fixed on Megan. “In a split second, tragedy can show you what’s important.”
“Hello. Has Mama told you her story?” Megan hadn’t seen the woman with a little girl walk up.
“I’m Paulette. This is my daughter, Sabrina. You look surprised. Yes, I lived. Doctors said it was a miracle. Father lost a leg, but he, too, lived.”
Ola beamed. “I ask God every morning to send someone who needs to hear my story. God sent you, Megan.” She winked and mentioned two familiar commercials featuring an older woman. “Me. God took nothing away but gave me the best. Frederic, Paulette, Sabrina, and my dreams. We must walk Sabrina to school now, my dear. God be with you.”
Peace flowed over Megan.
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