Thursday, September 15, 2005

Diane’s Writing Class

(Run originally 6/17/04 on my old site)

Ernie Simpson

The Pemiscot County Memorial Hospital in Hayti, MO, was a good one, and I suppose still is. We had need of its use, and the talents of the medical staff there in 1964. Scott was a baby, and had come down with a bad cold, we thought, and it only got worse.

We took him there, and the doctor said he had tracheal bronchitis. That was a scary thing to me, and I really didn’t know what or how it would affect him as a child, just that it was pretty serious, serious enough to be admitted, and put in a croup tent, with a cold moisturizing fog pumped into the plastic tent over the bed. They gave him a strong antibiotic, tetracycline. This caused his permanent teeth to be slightly off-white when they came in as he was older, and as a young man he always wanted to have wonderful white teeth. We didn’t know that would be a side affect of the drug, but it wouldn’t have mattered, he needed it.

I took time off work at my teaching job in Cooter to sit with him, and Diane continued in school, driving back and forth to Arkansas State. Arkansas State was sixty-four miles from Cooter. She came in after classes and sat with him, while I went home and changed and got ready to come back to the hospital. The few days it took to get him well was a stressful time, and she was trying to do well in her major, English, and was at the time enrolled in a creative writing class as a part of her degree.

The class had just been given an assignment, write a short story, fiction, and submit it for a final grade. We talked about it, and as I recall, the idea for the story was partly one of my ideas, but she put the touch to it that won a first prize in a short story contest, and earned an A in the class, and the admiration of her teacher. I will try to tell it as I remember it, because it still has some interest after all these years. The story isn’t as professionally or technically well told as she wrote it, but contains the idea. The story came out of the stress and anxiety we as twenty-something- year -old young parents faced with this illness of our first son.


It was cold, and I was lonely, as I had been for a long time. Loneliness was with me every day. Where were all the friends? It seems I couldn’t make friends, and whenever I had a chance, something always happened to drive them away. I couldn’t figure it out, I did my best to be friendly, and to show the good side of my personality whenever I had the chance. I constantly asked the question of myself about why was I not able to have the friends others always seemed to have.

Days were long and routine for me, nothing out of the ordinary ever seemed to happen, as much as I wished for it. It seems I always wished for a life that constantly eluded me.

She appeared one morning on the path directly in front of me as I was going for my daily jog. She had long blond hair, done in a pony tail to keep it neat while she ran. Her blue jogging shorts accented her long legs as she ran effortlessly along the path.

I stopped and looked directly at her, hoping she would notice me, or at least look my way. I couldn’t help wonder if I looked O.K. because to make any impression at all would have been tough, with the way she looked. She was beautiful. To my surprise, she stopped and spoke to me. Her greeting was friendly and she seemed to be glad to chat with me.

It didn’t take long before we discovered there were lots of things we had in common. We both liked to exercise in the mornings, we had few friends, but those we had were close. She seemed to have a really outgoing personality, and I was surprised to find she really was shy inside. I suppose that was one of the things that I found so endearing about her.

At first, we met each morning for our jog, and afterwards stopped for a drink at the fountain in the park towards the end of the path. I enjoyed the chance to catch my breath, and visit and rest. At the same time, this gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better. I thought it wouldn’t take long for us to become good friends.

I was right, we became fast friends, and as the weeks passed, it didn’t take long for our relationship to become more than just friendship. I spent as much time with her as I could, sharing things I had never shared with anyone. She was very open with me, and made me believe she was not only a caring person, but that she truly cared for me. To please her became the most important thing in my life. Until now, I had been lonely, and now my life seemed to have a sense of purpose, some meaning, and a true direction. I was grateful to have her in my life, and she meant more than anything to me.

One morning, as I stepped out on our jogging path, she was nowhere to be seen. I usually began my jog just past the bench and plantings of azaleas at the south end of the park, and before I had gone very far, she always fell in stride with me the rest of the way. I didn’t know where she was, she had not mentioned she wouldn’t be here today. Well, no matter, I’ll see her later, so I didn’t really become too concerned.

She wasn’t at her apartment later that day when I went by and checked, I guess she had not come in from work just yet. I waited around until later, and she still didn’t show up. I began to wonder, because this was not like her just to not be around or to tell me she was not going to be coming home.

I left, and decided she must have been busy, doing errands or otherwise occupied, so I thought to myself, no bother, I’ll see her tomorrow morning at our regular time.

The next morning, I anticipated seeing her, but to no avail. Where could she be? This was beginning to worry me. I knew we had spent too much time together for this to be just a superficial relationship, and I knew she must have felt as I did about being together. Surely she had reasons not to be there or let me know something was keeping her away. I went back to her apartment and waited.

Dusk turned to darkness, and she still didn’t come. I was really becoming worried. How could she just disappear without a word to me? Well, she would certainly realize how inconsiderate this was, when I had a chance to see her again. I continued to wait, surely she would be home soon.

It seemed like hours had passed in the darkness before the car came down the street, slowing in front of her apartment. The lights were bright, and I didn’t want to be seen. As the car stopped at the curb in front of her place, I moved quickly to the shadows of the shrubs beside the door, and waited in the darkness.

She got out of the car when he opened the door for her, graceful and beautiful in the dim lights of the street. She was smiling at him, as he closed the door of the car and she took his arm and walked up to the door. Could this be the reason she had been avoiding me? Why didn’t she tell me there was someone else, didn’t she know this would break my heart?

I was beginning to feel a jealous rage welling up in me as they stopped in front of the door, and smiled and put their arms around each other. I was not becoming angry with her, but him. How dare he take away the one good thing in my life that kept me going each day, that had given me a feeling in my heart besides the loneliness that I had felt for such a long time.

He touched her cheek with the tips of his fingers and kissed her gently. How can I stand this any further? The anger continued to build, and I could feel my blood beginning to rush to my brain. My heart was racing with the rage I was feeling, and I knew I could not bear to see him touch her any longer.

She kissed him one last time, and turned and opened the door, looked over her shoulder at him once more, and went in, closing the door behind her. He hesitated a moment, as if wanting to remember how she looked as she turned and walked away.

This was too much. He turned and started down the walk towards the car, and I made my move. I lunged from the darkness of the shrubs, and caught him by surprise. He didn’t know what hit him. I grabbed his throat and with all my strength, I was determined not to let go. I was totally blinded by rage and anger, and nothing would stop me from my revenge.

This was a fight to the death, and I held on with a vengeance. Finally, he was still. Good. Justice has been done, and this would be the last time he would take advantage of any situation like this or anyone. It served him right, I thought, to meet an end like this. She would understand why I did it, if she ever found out, and I certainly would not tell her it was I who had taken my revenge on this lowlife.

I stood over him as my anger subsided, and soon I was able to catch my breath, and some sense of calm came over me. I decided I’d better not be here when he was discovered on the sidewalk. I wondered how she would react, surely she would know this was for the best, all around. I knew she would be all right with it once she knew the truth.

I was confident and in good spirits as I headed back to my place, and was calm enough, that I only barked once and didn’t have the slightest desire to chase the scrawny cat that jumped out of the shadows by the sidewalk.


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