Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Walk (07/20/06)
TITLE: My family's Saturday walk
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
“I will buy chocolate for you, mommee.” Katie, riding piggyback on her dad’s neck, told me, her rotund cheeks pulling into a giant smile.
I nodded, then smiled at my four-year-old. Not to be outdone, Vickie, the elder by two years tugged at my skirt. “Me too, mom. I’ll even buy you a full bar.”
Mark winked at me. “You take care of the house. We’ll soon be back.”
I saw them off to the door, waving them goodbye. As they rounded the corner, Katie turned and waved me goodbye. I had to smile. My little daughter had a funny way of waving. She’d turn her palm towards herself and move it from side to side, as if she were waving herself goodbye.
Each Saturday morning, Mark would take the girls out on a walk in the countryside. It served two purposes; the kids learnt about nature, and I had three hours to myself. Three hours to write down all the ideas that had been crashing around in my head all week long.
Soon, I settled at the computer, a steaming cup of cocoa in hand. My newest book was almost complete, but the editor at the publishing company was breathing down my neck. The book, drawing from my experiences as a mother and as a psychologist in my earlier life, was about coping with a child’s death.
“Now, what title would be suitable?” I said out loud, reading through the twelve possible titles my editor had suggested. Soon, I was lost in my work.
The doorbell rang. Muttering to myself about the disturbance, I upended my mug of cocoa, and muttered the more.
“Hello, Mrs. Bright.”
The man standing before me was a familiar face, but distantly so. I guessed he was one of the not-so-near neighbors.
“I…I live on the next street.”
“Uh…would you like to come in?” then I remembered the cocoa soaking into the rug, and hoped he’d say no.
“No…you see, I was standing outside my house when your husband and your girls came along…”
I stared him down, willing him to finish with what he had to say and go, so I could get back to my work. And the rug.
“The car rounded the bend too fast…and…”
Suddenly, I felt the cocoa reverberating in my throat, struggling to be vomited. I leaned against the door. “Which car. What happened?” I managed to ask, even though I didn’t want to know.
“It knocked them down.”
“Where? How?” Telling myself not to turn hysterical, I knew there was no way I wouldn’t.
“My wife took them to the nearest hospital. I came to tell you.”
Without thinking, I was bounding for the garage, unaware that I was slipperless and in a bathrobe, with curlers in my hair. For the first time that day, I started to pray. Bargain was more like it. God, keep them safe and I’ll be more committed in church. Please…anything you want of me…
The tears pooled in my eyes, but I blinked them back. I needed to see, so I could drive.
I met them all sitting at the hospital’s reception. They’d been treated and discharged. Just like that. Only Katie had any physical wound, a multi-colored bruise on her shoulder. Seeing they were okay, I burst into the tears I’d been trying to fight.
“Sorry mommee. I didn’t buy your chocolate.” Katie apologized, mistaking my tears of joy for that of disappointment.
“Me too, mom. I’m sorry.”
“Oh girls. I’m not mad at you. Only thankful that you’re okay.” I answered as I pulled them both into my embrace. Mark pulled us all into his larger embrace and began kissing every part of us his mouth could reach.
The girls ended up shrieking with delight. Me? I began to almost regret the deal I’d brokered with God. But I knew…knew I had to become a better Christian than I presently was. I needed to keep to the terms of that agreement, made on the morning of my family’s Saturday walk. I knew it was for my own good.
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