Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Laury. Be sure to visit her blog, “In My Daddy’s arms,” for the links to the other Fiction submissions posted.
This week’s submission is the first Challenge Entry that landed me in the Editor’s Choice list, and one that I had a lot of fun writing. I enjoy writing about married couples, and particularly coming up with different little twists on some of the popular themes.
Something to Share
Topic: The Game of Life
Challenge Entry, Week of September 11, 2008
The phone on his desk rang, and he glanced at the display to see who was calling. With a nervous twinge he hadn’t felt since that first date they’d shared, he answered it. “Hi, Peg.”
“A delivery guy just showed up here,” she said, skipping the pleasantries. “Have you completely lost your mind?”
“Did you read the card? I’m trying to apologize.”
“Don, you’ve done some crazy things before, but this takes the cake. You do realize most men send flowers when they’re trying to apologize, don’t you? I’ve never heard of anyone sending a silly board game and a box of cereal.”
“Then I assume you didn’t read the card.”
“No, I was too busy wondering if you’d taken up smoking strange weeds. I had to cut my bath short to answer the door, and I find this kid with a basket containing, of all things, Life cereal and the game of Life. Is this your idea of a funny way to tell me to get a life?”
He cringed at the question. “Peg, I said an awful lot of stupid things the other night in the heat of anger. My pride at that moment might have found them satisfying, but pride isn’t one of the better emotions to speak from. I was talking to my Dad yesterday, and I told him what happened. He reminded me that I was supposed to love you as Christ loved the church, and asked if I could ever imagine Jesus talking to the church the way I’d talked to you. I had to admit that, no; I couldn’t imagine that at all.”
“That still doesn’t explain this basket.”
“Dad told me life was much like the game. We can play it alone if we want, but what’s the point? There’s no one to laugh with when the foibles of the game turn funny. There’s no one to smile at when the game is over and say, ‘I enjoyed that’. There’s no one to push you or challenge you to do better, and no one for you to challenge either. The game is empty and meaningless unless you’re playing it with someone else.” He took a deep breath. “When we got married, I promised to go through life with you. The other night, in the middle of the argument, I forgot that promise for a moment. Maybe it’s just a silly board game, but sending it to you is my way of remembering that you are the one I want to go through life with.”
“What about the cereal?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Dad told me about the first morning he truly realized he was married. He said it wasn’t during the honeymoon; it was that first workday after the honeymoon when he sat down at the small table in their apartment, and Mom was sitting across from him in her old robe. Her hair was a mess, she hadn’t put on any makeup yet, and she had just poured herself a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast. He looked at her, and knew that was what he would see every morning for the rest of his life. He asked her to pass the cereal, and decided that if that was what marriage was, he could easily live with that.
“I was a fool, Peg. I said things that I wish I could take back, but I can’t. Maybe a game and a box of cereal aren’t as pretty as a bouquet of flowers would be, but I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to tell you that I’m sorry and to ask you to forgive me. There is no one in this world I’d rather play a game with or wake up next to each morning before going in and sharing a box of cereal with. I want to go through life with you, and I want to share my life with you, and I want to keep the promises I made in love rather than keeping the words I spoke in anger.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone.
“I’m sorry Peg. Can you forgive me?”
“Will you be home for dinner? There isn’t much in the house, but I do have an unopened box of cereal, and I have a new game we could play this evening.”
“You can bet your life, I’ll be there.”