This story is by Marien Oommen and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was the fifth time since the sun had risen that morning, that she was stirring her coffee. How much coffee does a woman need?
The Italian machine in the corner did make the most delicious coffee. It was their gift to themselves.
Her brain was now working overtime. Today was her appointment with the doctor. She was a bit nervy since morning wondering what the prognosis would be. She assumed coffee would cure it.
“Honey, I’m going to the gynaec,” she yelled to the man inside the shower.
“Ya, but why? You’re not getting a baby, are you?” Then he hummed.
“You know, those frequent checks you gotta do as you put on some years?” she replied rather vaguely.
Liz had no desire to be with child at this stage in her life. Her kids were all grown up and settled. She was no Sarah and her man was no Father Abraham.
But she had messed up her body a bit, unknown to anybody but herself. First it was anxiety that she was losing her looks, and then it was the lack of love. What compensates love better than a box of chocolates? Over everything else it was being taken for granted. She sneaked a few in her bag to suck on while driving. She had some at her bedside while she lay down to read. How can you watch the tele without a bump in your right cheek?
Her mantra at this stage in her life was to serve all with love and more tender love. But nobody understood her motives. They said she lived in a bubble.
Soon snide after snide started piling up. They liked to challenge her. Her close friend picked on her relentlessly. Anything Liz wrote or said was analysed, critiqued and she had to apologize each time to exonerate herself. This happens if you are a goody-two-shoes doormat kinda personality. Sadly Liz had all the qualities that could fill an entire chapter on Psychology.
Liz’s defence was to cover all the insults hurled on her with laughter. She had the ability to laugh at the simplest things that happened around her. That was her great weapon in hand. Her shield of armor, her shoes of peace, and her speech was the good Word, as much as she could make it possible.
Powerful weapons for a softie.
Nobody could quite get her ways. Then when her close relatives started harassing her for her faith, she didn’t know how to tackle it.
“Why do you have to be different?”
“What makes you special?”
“You think only you’re going straight to heaven?”
“O the poor blind fool. What does she know about the ways of the world?” They sniggered at her raw innocence.
It happened at such a time as this, when media, rife with hatred, got people mocking anyone who thought differently. Each one was suspect of the other. Ideologies of one section being bullied by the other section of society. It was all pretty bad. Any false move and you had it. Any wrong word that spilt out of the mouth, and you were crucified. Bitter name-calling was happening in FB posts and on other social media links.
Particularly there was that somebody who stole her peace.
He had done some awful cussing at her face when she least expected it. Liz knew in her heart, she had to forgive the blighter. The normal human response would be to bite right back.
Mark was her relative who lived in another city. He was so caught up in his own frustrations; he couldn’t bear to see any form of success around him. Liz had made the mistake of preaching to him once, and she was challenged ever after.
His silly wife was equally culpable. Together they wheeled a bit of good-natured poison around. Nobody saw it coming because they did it with a touch of veiled humor.
Liz was their target. Anything she could do, they had to prove to the world that they did it better.
So believe it of not, Liz prayed, day in and day out. That was her weapon of mass destruction. Who else could she turn to? She was all alone.
Her mother had taught her to pray for the enemy. Bless and do not curse. This is what the great Master had taught the world before He left them bereft. But who does that in this day and age? Would anybody even understand?
Is prayer a quick fix remedy? Or is it a sign of weakness? Does it even work? Her faith told her it would.
Liz remembered the incidents of her childhood, her young adult life, and her life as a young mom- which were like rocks of remembrances – of how her family had been carried through all difficult times.
But now it was like a final straw. She was almost on the verge of giving up. Liz had no idea she had to be martyred silently every day, every moment. Did her silence mean she was like dumb driven cattle?
So she ate. The relief that lay in a chocolate covered doughnut was heavenly. The weight started showing terribly, around the chin, her arms, around her waist.
Sadness made her eat without control. Death by chocolate ganache.
But Liz was also sensible to say the least in spite of her indiscriminate eating. One day, at night it hit her hard. She saw vivid images being played out on the white wall in front of her as if somebody was showing her life on canvas. Yet she could swear there was nobody in the room. Then she heard that deep voice.
“Run away, Liz. Come to the mountains. You’ve always loved the mountains.”
The figure that called out was moving away,
“Wait for me,” Liz cried out.
There she found herself, hurtling down a huge cliff. Something slimy, thick and long was tugging at her legs pulling her down. A little lamb stood on the edifice looking at her. The lamb knocked down a branch for her to hold which she clutched on to for dear life.
Liz was not meant to perish.
Rescue meant life had to go on. She would never ever go under. Nothing should ever destroy her peace ever again, Liz swore to herself. Not anybody. Life had arrived with a new meaning and purpose, creating within her a new being.
So that’s how redemption arrived. In a parcel. She could feel it in her insides. Was it the new multi vitamin tablet she was taking for energy? Surely not. For something definitely was happening within her.
It started growing inside of her. A baby at 45? Liz was horrified.
Yet she knew if she had to go through it, she would somehow get the strength as well. That’s how plan and purpose worked together in her life. Always. Even at 45.
Her principle was not to kill, not to root out or destroy, but to build up and energize.
Today’s visit with the doctor would confirm all. Hope would return. There’d be new meaning in life.
Best of all he’d be kinder to her for sure, for sure. She was speaking like a schoolgirl again.
It was definitely not worth throwing hope to the garbage bin.