Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SICK (05/09/19)
TITLE: The Cure
By Holly Westefeld
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"I am sick of everything! Sick of professors who think theirs is the only class, sick of my parents trying to run my life, sick of cheating guys, sick of people I thought were friends stabbing me in the back!"
"Wow! It sounds like a lot of things are avalanching on you at once."
"You can say that again. My eleven o'clock class actually got out early, so I went by Tom's dorm to see if he wanted to head to lunch early, and found him satisfying another appetite with Julie!"
"Oh, Jessi, how horrible!"
Jessica flopped on her bed and buried her face in her pillow. After her sobs ebbed, she rolled over and grabbed a tissue. Once her tears were dried, Candace extended a business card. Jessica frowned down at it. It simply read:
77 7th Street
No appointment necessary
"What is this?"
"I went there when some things in my life were spinning out of control. He is making such a difference for me."
"I can't afford a counselor, and I'm sure not gonna ask my parents."
"Free? Like a non-profit?"
"I guess. I never actually asked. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I was in such a bad place I just went."
Jessica glanced at the card again. "It doesn't list hours..."
"I've never seen them posted, but never found it closed."
"Thanks. I'll check it out after I finish the paper I have due tomorrow."
"Oh, one thing I should tell you is that he stays behind a curtain, ya know, kind of like the wizard in The Wizard of Oz."
"I'll try almost anything that will keep me from doing something stupid."
Jessica stood before the unassuming building with 77 over the door, turned the knob slowly, and peered inside. A sense of calm enveloped her. She stepped through, closing the door softly behind her, transfixed by the blue ombre interior, sky at the ceiling, down to plush deep ocean carpet.
"Good afternoon. Please have a seat."
Jessica sunk into an over-stuffed chair that matched the carpet.
"How may I help you today?"
Jessica focused on the silhouette barely visible behind a curtain in the same hues. She poured her heart out for what seemed like hours. When she fell silent, the gentle voice asked, "That is a lot to forgive, is it not, Jessica?"
"You cannot be cured from the poison of bitterness if you will not forgive. It does not sicken those who have hurt you. It only destroys you."
"If you are not ready or do not have the opportunity to express it in person, you may write a letter. You can send it or burn it, but let it go."
"I should just let people off the hook for what they have done to me?"
"You will move on freely, with increased wisdom. I hope you will return soon."
Jessica stepped outside, shading her eyes from the intensity of the sun, unsure if she would return.
Jessica settled in to the blue chair. The silhouette seemed more defined than it had the first time.
"It's good to see you, Jessica. How are you doing today?"
"Not very well. I did what you suggested, and that helped a lot, but as I forgave others, I began to realize how much I have hurt others myself."
"Excellent! Have you asked their forgiveness?"
"Some, but there are others with whom I am no longer in contact. The guilt, if possible, feels worse than the bitterness."
"You can tell me, and I can cure you of that burden."
Again, Jessica poured out her heart. When she finished, the silhouette seemed more solid still.
"Look at your feet, Jessica."
She was startled to see a pile of wicked-looking thorns. Each had one of the wrongs she had inflicted on someone written on it.
"If you will place them in my hands, you will be cured of them forever."
Carefully, Jessica gathered the thorns and approached the curtain. It parted, and scarred hands took them from her, weaving them in to his crown.
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