Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)
TITLE: From This Moment On
By Jody Day
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“Let’s not and say we did.” Gladys turned the page of her magazine with a thwack.
“What? Don’t like my music?” He turned the volume up louder and peered sideways at his wife of nearly forty-eight years.
“Slow down, you’re gonna hit that truck.” She grabbed the dashboard and gasped. Their vehicle came within inches of the one in front of them.
“You scared me to death. I wasn’t going to hit him. Give me a little credit.” Forty-eight years and the same argument. Sheesh.
“You never give yourself enough room to allow for the vehicle in front of you. Such a long drive to the grandkids and I can’t risk napping because of your driving.”
“You were cute as you could be, standing looking back at me, and it was plain to see
that I'd enjoy your company.” He reached over and squeezed her hand. “Don’t be mad, I’m sorry. Okay?”
Gladys let her magazine fall to the floorboard. Tears trickled down her nose. She scrounged her purse for a tissue.
“What is wrong, honey bun? I thought you wanted to go see the grands this weekend.”
“I want a lot of things. Mostly I want to not have a lump in my breast.”
Curtis braked the car in the middle of the highway. He jerked the gears to Park. He turned to her. Her head bowed over her tissues and she sobbed. Cars whooshed past, honking. His throat went dry. He couldn’t croak out a thing.
“For heaven’s sake, Curtis, get off the road.” She dabbed at her eyes.
Curtis gripped the steering wheel. His eyes filled with tears. The car seemed to veer to the shoulder by itself. Curtis couldn’t remember having driven it there. As if on cue, a deluge pounded down upon the car, isolating them from the outside world. Gladys scooted over to her husband and he wrapped his arms around her.
“I’m not even going to fuss about you not telling me about this. It was when you went to the doctor last week, right?” He held her closer.
“Yes, and they’ve already done a biopsy on it. I haven’t gotten the news yet.” She leaned into Curtis’ shoulder and took a deep breath.
“So that’s why you’ve been so cranky.”
“Yes. When you started singing about looking back my heart just started screaming.” The tears began again.
“I can imagine that you are afraid. I would be. Heck, I am now.” Could he hold her any closer?
“I’m not afraid of being dead. I know I’ll be with Jesus, but I am afraid of dying a slow death that’s hard on you and everybody in the family. I’m afraid of pain, of not being able to take care of myself.” She held her breath to try and gain control.
“Aren’t you thinking kind of far ahead? The results might not be bad.” His prayers had already begun. Please, God, don’t let this happen to her, to us.
“I don’t want to look back anymore. I want to live right now and on into the future. Even if it’s the worst, this whole thing has got me thinking. We spend a lot of time talking about the past. It’s been wonderful, but I want to close that book and live fully in the now. The possibility of leaving you makes me want to savor every moment.” She looked into his eyes, and then wiped his tears away.
“You got it, Princess.” He’d be sure every moment from here on out was special, cancer or not.
They drove on to their grandchildren’s home in silence. Curtis never let go of her hand. As they opened the door, a host of friends and family yelled, “Surprise, Happy Anniversary!”
“Yes, happy and blessed, from this moment on,” Curtis whispered in Gladys’ ear. They stepped into the circle of love, looking forward.
*Looking Back to See by Jim Ed Brown, 1954
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