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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)

By Joy Faire Stewart


A gut-burning regret tore at my heart as if the mad scientist, Dr. Frankenstein, was ripping the organ from my chest without using anesthesia. I was like a surgical patient feeling intense pain coupled with the horror of being unable to fight the perpetrator slicing through my flesh.

The full moon cast a lonely, eerie glow about the bedroom, while shadows played with my imagination. The house was so quiet I heard dust particles dropping to the night stand next to the bed. Even after a brutal 16-hour shift in the ER, sleep eluded me.

As the garage door rolled up with a screech that night, the lights of my Lexus illuminated the spot where Brittany’s Volkswagen bug was usually parked. It was after midnight, and I was tired and hungry. She’d had time to drive home from her job at the restaurant, and I expected dinner to be simmering on the stove. Instead, the pots were cold.

The note simply said, “I won’t take any more.”

I even missed the hair-belching ball of fur that always sat in her lap, purring. She found him in the alley behind the restaurant after she’d finished her shift one rainy night last January. When she walked into the house, with him cradled in the crook of her arm, I thought he was dead, and she’d brought him home to bury. She bathed and fed him with an eyedropper, then applied ointment to his festering sores, ignoring my protests about possible infectious diseases. He survived, and I think she called him “Fluff.”

Tonight, I ate the last of her Jenny Craig dinners. I should’ve told her she was perfect and didn’t need to diet, ‘cause she was . . . and she didn’t.

She said I made snap decisions, acted upon impulses and placed consequences in a box to dissect at my convenience. She called me, “Dr. STAT.”

In my defense, I’ve been trained to respond quickly and efficiently. Lives depend on the decisions I make in the ER. Many times I don’t have the luxury of hesitation. Hesitation—a life may be lost.

It’s time to lance the wound.

I had an affair. Darlene meant nothing to me. I know all men say that . . . after the fact. My personal life was controlled by snap decisions and arrogance. Arrogance is a destructive acid, not a cleansing salve.

I love my wife. I never told Brittany I appreciated the long hours she worked and her sacrifices to put me through medical school. Her dreams of a college degree and completing her novel remained on hold. Although she had written several short stories, I never read any of them.

I had hopes when Brittany called and asked me to meet her for dinner in the little restaurant where we had our first date. All heads turned as she walked to the table where I waited. I noticed a radiance about her I’d never seen before. She ignored the rose I extended to her, and turned her head, rebuffing my kiss.

I said the first thing that came to mind. “How’s Fluff?” I regretted the words the moment they filled the void.

“His name is Tiger,” she sighed.

Her next words were like a scalpel to my heart. “I’ve met someone.”

Fumbling for the rose as it slipped from my hand, I tipped the water glass. The icy liquid spread across the white, linen tablecloth. I mopped the table with a napkin and then used my handkerchief. “When did this happen? Where did you meet him?”

“A lady where I work invited me to her church, I met him there.”

“Is it serious?” I said, as the words from my lips sounded like an adolescent trying to control the pitch of his voice.

“It’s a very serious relationship. He loves me, listens to what I have to say, and promises to always be faithful.”

My body was as cold as the water I dried from the table minutes before—afraid to ask the question but knowing it must be answered. “What about our marriage?”

I watched as her hazel eyes became pools of liquid sadness or perhaps joy; I was unsure, but the tears trickling down her cheeks were unmistakable.

Reaching across the table, she covered my hand with hers. “If you let Him, my new friend will heal and cleanse your soul—as He has mine.”

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This article has been read 912 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sunny Loomis 09/12/08
Hopefully this marriage will be saved. Good writing and descriptions. Nicely done.
Shelley Ledfors 09/14/08
You have some great descriptive phrases in here. Like the one about sounding like an adolescent trying to control the pitch of his voice.

It did seem a little hard to follow timeline-wise.

I *love* the ending!!!
Celeste Ammirata09/14/08
This is really good, and well written. You had me wondering about the new man. Great twist.
Jan Ackerson 09/14/08
Great characterization of your narrator!

The timeline confuses me a bit, too...if they're still married, and Brittany has become a Christian, it seems to me that she shouldn't be pursuing this relationship with the man at church...but maybe I've got it wrong.

I like the richness of meaning in the title, and the tie-in to the topic.

Chely Roach09/14/08
WOW! This was awesome. You totally had me convinced that she met a man, not the God Man...a great twist that blindsided me. Well done!
Joy Faire Stewart09/14/08
Note from author: For those who are confused about the new man in her life, it's JESUS.
Yvonne Blake 09/14/08
Good descriptions and emotions. Well written.
Lisa Graham09/14/08
Wow! Very well-written illustration of the healing power of God. This woman's pain was healed by Jesus, the Great Physician, and her witness to her estranged/physician husband was powerful. Perhaps, through her testimony regarding the Balm of Gilead, her husband may too find healing for his pain.
Scott Sheets09/15/08
You drew me into the man's emotional turmoil and brought it to a wonderful conclusion. Not perfectly wrapped up, but providing hope. Nice Job!
Leah Nichols 09/15/08
The timeline bounced around, but you did have a lot to cover in 750 words! Well done; excellent writing.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/15/08
Your last line is a zinger. Excellent.
Beth LaBuff 09/15/08
The story is such a heart-breaker (that has played out countless times). I love your ending... such a perfect prescription for that marriage. Excellent story!!!
Kristen Hester09/15/08
Nice job! I totally got that the man she met was Jesus. I was a little confused at times. At the beginning I thought he was already at home, then he was pulling his car into the garage??

Very good, descriptive writing.

One minor thing that I noticed, probably because of my husband's job: I don't know any doctors whose wives are waitresses. I was assuming she was a waitress, but perhaps she's something else, which would make sense. This just confused me a bit.

Again, SUPER!
Valarie Sullivan09/17/08
I liked the line about placing the consequences in a box to be dissected later. That was a good one!
I agree the time line was a little confusing with him pulling into the garage after being home.
Your ending was a real surprise and at first I thought it was an earthly man until the very end! Good job!
Gerald Shuler 09/17/08
She met Jesus and he learned that the cat's name is Tiger. There is definately hope for this family.

Great story. I wasn't lost in the time line at all. Little clues like finishing the last of her diet meals told the time line beautifully.
Karlene Jacobsen09/17/08
Maybe you could place him at the restaurant at the beginning then show him thinking, remembering his pain over losing his wife. This might help the timeline remain under control.

I like the was you held the tension between husband and wife when she told him about the "other man". If anything, it showed them both their marriage was worth saving. (my opinion of course)

Great story!
Beckie Stewart09/17/08
This was well-written. Great take on topic.
Kristi Peifer09/17/08
I enjoyed this! The first part threw me off a little also, but not enough to keep me from continuing! The end was great! I thought she meant an earthly man until that last part. Great way to keep us suspended until the last second!
T. F. Chezum09/17/08
Great take on the topic and a well written story. Love the ending.
Pamela Kliewer09/17/08
Great story. Even though I was a bit confused by the time line too, I kept on reading as you really drew me in. So, was I the only who thought the man would be Jesus? I caught it with this line: “It’s a very serious relationship. He loves me, listens to what I have to say, and promises to always be faithful.”
Joshua Janoski09/17/08
I LOVED your ending! It leaves me wondering if the two stayed together, but regardless, the truth was told. Jesus is the only one who can heal broken hearts and relationships. The MCs dialogue was powerful, and I felt every bit of emotion that he was feeling as I read this.

I hope this one places high, because it is one of my favorites this week.
Tessy Fuller09/23/08
I thought this was really good and I followed the time line. It was a bit scrunched but you did have a word limit. I also thought right away that she had met Jesus. Great writing!