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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 10

In choices, divorce, fear, fiction, love, marriage, relationships, single on October 4, 2011 at 12:02 am

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Rachel is absorbed in Mrs. Stone’s book of poetry amidst a restless sea of defendants and plaintiffs, all waiting for their day in court. It’s 9:45 AM.

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When lies are love and love is a lie

When truth is pain one can’t deny

How does a heart fulfill its vow

When fear refuses to allow

The lie to live within its walls

Or let grace heal us when it calls

“Rachel?” My attorney sits down next to me as if to wake me from a deep sleep; his voice sounds distant and muffled. I look at him and can see in his eyes that I have changed.

“Rachel, they’ve cancelled our hearing and they can’t give us a reschedule date so I’ll call you, okay?”

I nod my head, unconnected from the news that my dissolution was again delayed. Steve had still not arrived and for some odd reason that bothered me, not in a disgust sort of way but more like a longing—like I wished he were there.

“Are you okay?” Jeff’s face was closer now, his look tense.

“Yeah—yes, I’m okay.”

“I don’t believe you,” he said, standing up and straightening his tie. “Let’s stop by Sully’s for a drink, my treat.”

Normally, I would have relished such an offer—especially from him—but this wasn’t an offer; he sensed something had changed in me and it unsettled him. Something had changed, but neither of us knew what it was.

“No thanks,” I said as I stuffed Mrs. Stone’s journal in my briefcase. “I need to get back to work. There are some issues that need my attention and a pile on my desk that won’t go away unless I show up …”

“You dodging,” he interjected. “What’s going on Rachel?”

We board the elevator with another attorney and client pair, orbiting some crucial strategy for their case and I clam up. The lines from that last poem have me paralyzed. I wrestle under its tethers—its voice screaming at my soul in a faint whisper: When fear refuses to allow

My mind butts into the conversation and attempts to apply logic: Is that what is wrong with me? Did I drive Steve away because I was afraid his love for me was a lie? Have I not extended years of grace to him already? When is it time to move on?

“Rachel, I insist, let me buy you a drink, we can take my car,” Jeff takes me by the elbow and escorts me off the elevator. I’m in such a trance I don’t resist and now we’re in his Jaguar heading to Sully’s.

“No,” I say.

“No? No what?” Jeff swings into a space in the parking deck and puts the car in park.

“No, I can’t be here—with you—I can’t do this.”

He laughs, “It’s a drink, Rachel, not a date. C’mon.” I don’t move and he lets a few seconds pass to see if my decision wavers. It doesn’t. He starts his car back up and pulls onto Main Street. Nothing more is said between us and by 10:10 AM I’m back in the parking lot at the Afterglow Journey Center. I don’t look back as Jeff pulls away; I sit on the bench outside the front door, numb and captive to words I’ve never heard. They are foreign and faint, yet strong and powerful—and I’m listening.

To be continued….

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Read from the beginning…

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 9

In choices, divorce, fiction, marriage, relationships, Writing on October 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Rachel’s court date is delayed. She stuffs Mrs. Stone’s journal in her briefcase and heads out. It’s 9:05 AM.

The first poem in Mrs. Stone’s journal was short, but drenched with pain—my pain. Betrayal and lies all wrapped up in a cloak of romance. It stung, and dredged up nasty memories of when Steve first rode into my life like a prince. How hard I fell for his deceptions!

My cell rang and pulled me from the prose.

“Rachel, your case got moved to 9:45. Where are you?”

It was my attorney. Great guy—why didn’t he ride into my life instead of Steve?

“I’m still at the office. We had a passing last night and I had to meet with the widow. I’ll be right there.”

“Okay. Steve’s not here yet.”

“Big surprise. See ya,” I said, and clicked off. I shoved my cell into my briefcase along with Mrs. Stone’s journal. The courthouse is just blocks from my office so I determined to jump right back into those poems as soon as I could.

The courthouse is crazy. Seems everyone is suing someone, but no one wants to be here. My heart rate rises at each floor on the elevator. I watch the numbers change. Four is where my marriage will be declared dead. I hope Steve isn’t here yet.

My attorney is pacing by the elevator doors as I step from them with a dozen other nervous souls. He grabs my elbow and leads me quickly to a bench. We drop and he barrels into typical, 90 mph lawyer-speak.

“Slow down Jeff, I don’t even know the meaning of half those words!” He sighs.

“Rachel, if Steve doesn’t show up, we can still go forward with the divorce. I’ll ask the judge for favor, given that you have been amicable throughout this process and I think he’ll go for it. I don’t think Steve has any more leverage to stop this again.”

I shudder. The past year-and-a-half of motions, continuances and the deposition damaged my emotions beyond anything I had experienced in my life. Why won’t he just let go of me?

“Okay. Good plan, thanks Jeff.” I pulled Mrs. Stone’s journal from my briefcase, un-wrapped the cord from around its cover and leaned back against the stark white wall.

“Where’d you get that?” Jeff asked.

“From someone at the facility. It’s poetry.”

Jeff raised his brows, “Looks valuable.” I smiled, catching his sarcasm. He knew I was not the poetry type and I detected his curiosity as to this odd distraction.

My eyes found the second poem. A lump formed in my throat as its first line: When lies are love and love is a lie …

I sensed a hunger form deep inside—I need something from this book. If you had asked me on that day what I was looking for in its pages, I couldn’t have told you. I just had this strange ache inside me; a strong force that held my wrist as I dangled over a deadly precipice. I wanted to do nothing but read that journal. I looked at my watch. It was 9:20 AM. Still no Steve.

To be continued….

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Read from the beginning…

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 8

In choices, divorce, fiction, judging, lessons, marriage, office, plans, relationships, stress on October 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Rachel walks to the elevator with Mrs. Stone’s journal in her hand. It is 8:45 AM.

I don’t remember walking to the elevator. In fact, I don’t remember anything from the moment Mrs. Stone handed me her journal until I opened it and began reading.

“Read this before you go to court,” she had said.

You must know that I am a very private person. In fact, the only reason I’m writing all of this down is because—well, you’ll figure that out soon enough. What I’m saying is, only my assistant knew of my court date. On my watch, gossip is grounds for immediate termination, so I’m quite sure Kevin wouldn’t risk losing his cushy paycheck just to indulge in a few morsels of that nonsense. So how did Mrs. Stone know I was due in court by nine?

I always maintain a professional distance from our patients and their families—most especially with the Russell’s. Her connections to our Board, her national renown as a poet and Mr. Russell’s condition all combined into a big red flag. When Mr. Stone was admitted, I held a mandatory powwow to explain that his time with us would require extreme discretion, not only with the patient’s personal information, but with the staff sharing their personal information in idle chit chat to him. Be kind, compassionate, attend to his needs and that’s all, were my instructions.

Until Angie got her panties in a bunch over Mr. Stone, all was well. Somewhere along the line she took it upon herself to play judge and jury over him and if I hadn’t addressed that when I did, we would now be facing repercussions of a most unpleasant sort. I hope she’s grateful I spared her a pink slip. Regardless, I’m confident she didn’t let spill any info on me to the Stone’s either—even if she does know about my divorce.

I put that aside and focused on the journal. I had 15 minutes to get to the courthouse so I knew I couldn’t possibly read it all before then. I gathered some work and stuffed it into my briefcase then thought I could take the journal with me.

I picked it up and turned it in my hands. It was made of leather, smooth on the outside, though worn from years of use. Inside was the rough hide, unfinished, with thick sections of ivory pages folded and sewn into the spine by some kind of heavy-duty thread. Its construction was definitely crafted by an artist and felt priceless, like it had been given to a mortal by a Greek god or goddess and held magic powers … to preserve for my eyes only, centuries later. Okay, so I watch a bit too much sci-fi.

The cover page was all blank with only Mrs. Stone’s handwriting: “This book belongs to Margaret Lynette Stone,” it read. Below her name was what looked like a proverb, but I couldn’t place it: By your patience possess your souls.

I couldn’t help myself, I had to peek. It was 8:50 AM, just one page …

To be continued….

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Read from the beginning…

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 7

In choices, death, divorce, fear, fiction, help, judging, love, marriage, obedience, relationships on October 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm

A Novelette

 by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Mrs. Stone’s story of the late Russell Stone hit a nerve in Rachel. It is 8:30 AM.

The anger rising in me was shocking. I wanted to run like villagers do when the volcano they live by day-in-and-day out starts rumbling. Mrs. Stone could see the eruption forming on my face. Still, she calmly continued.

“People judge these unlived lives as actors, manipulators or lazy bums, having no idea that they are starving for an ounce of acceptance and love in any form. They remain children in their mind with no definition for what drives them or what was stolen from them; they just know they are different from everyone else.”

I felt punched in the stomach and filled with shame. I held her gaze so she couldn’t see that I am one of those judges; that I am only an hour away from dumping such a soul.

“But why did you marry him, knowing he could never be a real husband to you?” I asked. She took in a deep breath; a strange peace engulfed me as she exhaled, something I still can’t explain, though I’ve rolled it over and over in my mind ever since.

“I didn’t know all this when I married him. He seemed as normal as any man,” said Mrs. Stone through tears. “At first I felt deceived, but to honor my vows, I had to love him unconditionally as I am loved by my Creator; that is only fair, don’t you think?”

I shrugged, non-committed. I wasn’t a religious person, but I had to agree that if the Creator loves me unconditionally, I should give my fellow man the same courtesy. I mean, that made sense, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a moral, good, considerate person. I obey the law and all, but her take on it seemed unrealistic.

“But how could you play along with it all? It doesn’t seem fair to you,” I said, my voice now pleading, my mind oblivious to the clock.

“Over time I learned that his feigned normalcy was more than just an act—it was a desperate cry for help,” she said. “I knew that my love for Russell had to be bigger than me. It had to reach beyond my romantic dreams, beyond my rights as a woman, as a wife. I had to love him more than he could ever love me.”

I choked. Shaking my head I pushed all these super woman ideals as far away from me as I could. She had no idea that Steve and Mr. Stone were one and the same and I wasn’t about to tell her. I needed to extricate myself from the Stone’s upside-down world and focus on my court date. I glanced up at the clock. It’s 8:40 AM.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Stone. With all due respect, I have a 9AM meeting I can’t miss. Please forgive me for rushing off like this. The staff will help you with the paperwork we need you to complete before Mr. Stone’s burial. I will call you later today.”

Mrs. Stone smiled serenely and looked down at the journal in her hands. My hand was on the door handle when she called my name. I turned around.

“Please take this and read it before you go to court.”

I gave her a sideways look as I took the journal from her trembling hand. How did she know my ‘meeting’ was in court?

To be continued….

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Read from the beginning…

Love Smells.

In Christ, fragrance, garden, God, Jesus, love, marriage on May 1, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Breathe.

That’s the one-word advice I give to newly engaged couples.

Breathe when things get tense.  Breathe when everything around you stinks. Breathe when the inevitable storms of life threaten your dreams.

Catch wind of her scent when everything she says and does confuses you.  Take a deep whiff of those roses he brings home when everything he doesn’t say and doesn’t do hurts you.

I’m sure God had couples in mind when he planted the first flowers.  He knew, as we now know, that marriage gets challenging after the honeymoon.  He also knew that the simple act of breathing can harness the tongue and allow love’s aroma to prevail when all else reeks.

daffodils6

God knew that the force of fragrance could penetrate the heart even when the curtains are drawn on the windows of the eye and the passageway of the ear is plugged by stubborn selfishness.

It is no wonder then, that God began his plans for the first couple’s wedding in a garden.  In fact, he spent five days designing their first home (with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, 2 Peter 3:8 NIV).

After laying the foundation and installing the plumbing; after making sure everything was in good working order and all was mathematically correct, God became frivolous. When it was time to decorate, he flamboyantly carpeted and dressed their home with exquisite trimmings of every kind – crowning it with an endless array of breathtaking blossoms.

But God doesn’t get frivolous without a purpose.  His flowers were to play a vital role in love’s timeless message.  There, hidden in the frail and vulnerable petals, God placed power – power that could force the stench of hate and bitterness out of our cities, our homes and our hearts.

Shortly after their wedding, the first couple made a devastating choice.  Though that choice separated them from the Lover of their soul, God knew love was not in danger of extinction.  His fragrant presence was restored through a flower – the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley – Jesus Christ, his only Son.

Love took on the fragrance of death, he shed his blood and though the stench of the world’s sins hung on his flesh and God had to look away, Death’s decay gave way to the sweetest smell on earth – redemption.

So breathe.

Breathe God’s frivolous love when you can’t see a way out.  Breathe when your hearing is impaired by lies from the god of self.  Breathe his salvation into your soul by saying, “I do” to him at the altar of your heart – and may the fragrance of his love always fill your home.