Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)
By Karlene Jacobsen
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In the depths of her soul, she believed another world existed. It was a world where friends and family lived and loved faithfully. There she was cared about and her thoughts were valued. It was there she retreated regularly. People, tall handsome men, beautiful women, children and homes were hers for the asking. The men were heroes, fought for their women; they would not back down in a fight—especially when such a fight was for his woman, his love.
Sometimes Jenny invited her friends into her room, in the dark. “Shhh.” She instructed. “No one can know you’re here.”
Then late into the night, she talked with them, told them her pain and let them comfort her. If she closed her eyes and sat quietly enough, he would come. Jenny called him by many different names. He had various occupations and social statuses, but he always maintained one quality. He was her dream-come-true—he was who she needed him to be. His arms were strong and held her tight. He planted well-hidden kisses into her hair. His strength did not prevent him from shedding a tear with her. She felt his anger rise in her defense when she told him of the things her father said. He fumed the day she shared how her glasses flew across the room when asking her father if they ought to pray before supper; that she received the backside of her father’s hand when questioning the reason he thought she must first repent.
Jenny whispered into his ear of her love. He was the only one she could trust. He held her as she cried herself to sleep. “Shhh.” She heard him breathe into her heart. “I’ll protect you.”
For years, she had relied on him for her comfort and support. Faithfully he visited her. Then the day came when she said good-bye. Months before her wedding, she told him, “I have to go. My husband won’t understand our relationship.”
Jenny turned her face to the window, her husband—silent—navigated the car through traffic. Conversation ended years ago. When her eyes opened, scalding, salty tears splashed down her cheeks and pooled in the corners of her mouth. Oh, I wish we could talk. She thought of him. Did he watch from his home? Was he angry with her for turning away? Would she ever be good enough to earn his love? It had been years since he held her. Would he even remember her?
Movement of the car rocked to a stop as Jenny’s husband parked it in the garage. Darkness spread over and between them. Impenetrable. She walked alone into the blackened house, while he retreated to his "quiet place."
She stood statuesque in the shower, allowing the steamy water to camouflage her stormy tears. “I’m lonely! I am so tired! Please, won’t somebody love me? What am I doing wrong?” Her cries, she knew, would go unheard. Her husband rarely came to the bedroom anymore and the children were gone.
The pillow welcomed her lead-weight head. It would once again soak up her tears. As her body began to sink through the mattress into the unconscious world, she heard him. “Jenny.”
He met her in the café at the mall. It was he who scooped up her packages when someone else, in their careless haste, knocked them to the floor. He appeared at the concert, where she sat alone. He was with her when she cried by the river. She could see him now, following her each day, tears falling when hers did; face reddening when he witnessed those words of rejection flung her way. She could see now, it was he, that whispered her name over the earth—his will, her dreams fulfilled.
“Jenny.” Her surroundings lit as the sun shone around her. Its brilliance cast his face as a shadow, but there he was, standing, his arms held open wide. She inched her way toward him wondering with each step, What will my husband think?
Before the words could drip from her lips, his arms were around her and her fears melted into his chest. “Shhh,” he said, “I’ll protect you. I AM always here.”
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