Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Hide and Seek (08/07/08)
TITLE: The Saga of a Temporary Loser
By Jason Swiney
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Last night, while lying in bed trying to recall if I turned off the new gas grill, Lori informed me of today’s family plan. She would take Ali, our little girl, shopping for kindergarten clothes and I could use the day to accomplish the chores I had shunned all summer. To avoid perusing through pinks and panties and purses, I agreed.
While my little girl still dreamt of castles and my wife assaulted the snooze button, I attacked the morning. Clean out the storage rooms and the closets…take the old clothes to the community shelter and the garbage to the county landfill… mow the yard…hammer down those nails sticking up on the deck …and finish painting the back of the house. Ahead waited a day of good, solid man work, certainly ill suited for the wearing of a wedding ring. So I slid it off and put it…somewhere.
When drowsy Lori complained of my morning noise production, I rearranged my work schedule and headed outside to finish painting before the August sun heated up. By ten o’clock I was exhausted and relaxing in my hammock. My wife woke me.
“Nice job honey.”
Ali, ready to shop with her sparkly purple purse, studied the house. “Looks pretty Daddy,” she chirped. “Can I touch it?” She moved toward the wet paint with Lori in quick pursuit.
Leading our darting little angel away by the hand, Lori blew me a kiss. “We are off to the mall to find some deals and save you some money,” she laughed. “There are biscuits on the stove…whenever you head inside to clean.”
After tackling three downstairs closets and one creepy storage room, I had gathered six bags of clothes and garbage. Upstairs, Ali’s room was my main target. It was a land littered with half-naked dolls, broken-tail mermaids, label-less crayons, frayed princess gowns, and as many ridiculous toys as the grandparents’ income could supply. In the bottom of Ali’s closet, shoved into a corner, I found the dirty, worn “baby duck” backpack she had carried, well…drug, to pre-school. For sentimental reasons I thought about keeping it, for sanitary reasons I trashed it.
I completed my chores, saving the county’s nasty landfill for last. After returning from the realm of overgrown flies and clinging stench, I quickly showered. I intended to get clean and then put on my wedding ring. I also intended for my ring to be right where I thought I had left it.
Lori usually responds to my misplaced items by rolling her eyes. Knowing a lost wedding ring could result in the rolling of my head, I immediately did what any good husband would do; I frantically searched for that symbol of love. For an hour I tore the house apart. Nothing. The ring still wasn’t in the usual places the third or fourth times I checked.
As soon as Lori and Ali returned home, I again did what any desperate husband would do. I kept my left hand hidden and secretly sought help.
“Ali…have you by any chance seen Daddy’s wedding ring?”
She grinned and did a ballet spin. “I know where it is Daddy.”
My heart slowed to a normal rhythm. “Can you tell me please?”
“I saw it on your dresser this morning. I took it and put it in my special place so it would be safe. I’ll show you.” Ali took my hand and led me up the steps to her room.
“Okay Daddy, shut your eyes.” I peeked as we stepped past carriages and crowns and coloring books. Ali opened her closet door.
“Daddy, my backpack!” she screamed. ”My duck backpack, it’s gone. My favorite backpack is gone!”
“Ali,” I asked, knowing the forthcoming answer. “Was that your special place?”
I think we were both crying.
So…back to the county landfill to save my head and my marriage. I can’t wait to start digging through trash and reeking refuse. It’s getting dark and I don’t even know how late it stays open, but I’m going back no matter what…if only I can find my keys.
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