Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: QUESTION (S) (05/30/19)
By Dennis Gallemore
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Drawing in a deep breath of the wintry evening air, he stepped back inside and closed the door. Turning, he stepped over to the wooden rocking chair that waited patiently beside the fireplace and sat down, his gaze lifting to the photograph upon the mantle. His blue eyes watering, he drew in a ragged breath. “Jessica…”
“You really loved her, didn’t you?”
Looking down, he focused on the man sitting at the other end of the hearth. “You know I did, Tyler.”
“Why didn’t you tell her?”
George dropped his head. “I did. Once in a while.”
“Once in a while. What does that even mean, George? Once a day? One time a week? A month? A year?”
Lifting his head, George studied the other man before replying. “It means I didn’t say it enough, Tyler.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “Not nearly enough.”
“Why did you let her leave, George?”
Sighing, George slowly shook his head. “I don’t know. All I know is that I shouldn’t have let her walk out of my life. Now, it’s too late.”
“Is it, George? Is it too late?”
“We were married for six years. She had plenty of time to decide whether or not she wanted to be my wife any longer. There’s no going back.”
“Who says you can’t go back, George? Have either of you even filed for divorce?”
“No,” George murmured.
“Then what’s stopping you?”
“There were other problems, Tyler.”
“Jessica felt that I spent too much time with my friends and not with her.”
Closing his eyes, George slowly nodded. “Yeah, I did.”
“She didn’t think that I appreciated her.”
Opening his eyes, George wiped them with a weathered hand. “No, I didn’t. I took her for granted and the love of my life picked up her two suitcases and walked out the door and out of my life forever.”
“Forever, George? How do you know that?”
Sighing, George stood and shuffled into the kitchen. Pouring himself a cup of coffee, he added a splash of cinnamon syrup and made his way back to the fireplace. Sitting once again, he sipped the steaming coffee, his eyes falling upon a collection of vinyl records neatly stacked upon a side table.
“She loved those old albums, didn’t she, George?”
“She really did, especially Frank Sinatra’s.”
“The two of you used to put one of his records on and slow dance right here in front of the fireplace, didn’t you?”
A small smile flitted across his face. “We did. That’s all we needed on a winter’s night: soft music, the glow of the fire, and each other.” He shook his head. “We’ll never do that again.”
“Why not, George?”
“Because she’s not here.”
“Then why don’t you do something to get her back here?”
“She won’t come back to me.”
“How do you know that?”
Taking a sip of coffee, George swallowed and then set the cup on the hearth, his eyes drawn to the flickering firelight. “Because it’s what I keep telling myself,” he whispered.
“Then how would you know unless you asked her? Why don’t you call her?”
“Maybe I should.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his phone. Hesitatingly, he punched a button. “Jessica? Listen, please don’t hang up. I…I’m sorry. For everything. I know I’m probably the last person you want to talk to but I just have one question. Could you ever forgive me?” He listened to her reply, tears rolling down his cheeks. “Yes, I will go with you to church this Sunday. I’ll pick you up at your mother’s house at eight. I…I love you, Jessica.”
Putting the phone back into his pocket, George Tyler O’Reilly looked across the hearth. “Any more questions?” The man in the mirror, his face splitting into a wide smile, made no reply.
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