Fly Away

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[Fly, fly away]

[Fly away in the morning]

[Fly, fly away]

[Just don’t give me any warning]

Remembering:

I stood by the window in the hospital room. If I had a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope, I’d be able to see the house where our little family had been so happy for so many years. I gazed out the window regretting that it had all gone so wrong.

My thoughts were centered on my one and only husband, Tim Sherman. He and I had chosen that house together. We loved it at first sight. The view of the valley from the deck was spectacular. It was a made-to-order house for us.

I remember Tim looking into my eyes and saying, “Holly, this is where we’ll raise our family.” I agreed wholeheartedly.

Tim was the man of my dreams. He was a good-looking, hard-working man with real moral fiber. He was trustworthy, honest, and loyal. He had a beautiful soul.

He worked for the railroad. I was a high school teacher. In addition to his work for the railroad, he also was a lay-preacher in our church.

Did he have some faults? I didn’t notice any for a long, long time. He happily shared parental and household duties with me as we raised our three children. We have two daughters, Dolly and Anna, and a son, Jeremy.

Of course, eventually, the kids grew up and left us with the proverbial empty nest.

First to leave was Dolly when she married a great young man named Christo.

Next came Anna when she married Zeth. He was not a particularly religious young man. While I liked him a lot, I was afraid that Tim wouldn’t approve of him. But Tim didn’t judge Zeth in any way. When Zeth did the old-fashioned thing and asked for Anna’s hand in marriage, Tim was quick to give his approval and his blessing. In fact, Tim ended up performing the marriage ceremony that joined Zeth and Anna together as one in the sight of God.

Finally, we lost Jeremy to a wonderful girl named Elouise. When Jeremy vacated his room, we became empty-nesters. Coinciding with that, I began to change. As the days passed, I began to wish that my life was more exciting.

Tim was a good husband, a good provider, and a great father; but he was kind of a stick-in-the-mud, so to speak. He never did anything to rock my world.

I know that my complaint would be considered frivolous by most people. I’m sure many women would die for the life that I’ve lived.

When we were raising the children, it wasn’t of concern to me that we never went to exotic or exclusive places or did any super-exciting things. Our life together was sort of mundane, but we had plenty of good times. Nevertheless, deep inside, I now wanted exotic. I wanted exclusive. I wanted exciting.

We never did any super-erotic acts in bed either. Our sex life was good but very predictable. Now, I wanted some new adventures, positions, and routines. I wanted some super-erotic sex.

Maybe it was a mid-life crisis. Maybe it was because of our empty nest. I knew my life was getting ever closer to the end. I began to realize that this wasn’t the dress rehearsal; it was the real deal. Maybe it’s the only deal! What if this is all we get? I don’t want to reach the end without doing some spectacular things.

I wanted more variety in my life. I wanted more action. I wanted better sex and more of it. What I had was a boring life and a husband that had developed erectile dysfunction.

Please understand, I wasn’t being mistreated or abused. In fact, I didn’t doubt Tim’s love in any way. He was a wonderful man and was as faithful as an old dog. I just wanted a frisky new puppy. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it was.

The biggest complaint that I had was that Tim was the man of the family in a “Christian” way. Our church, and I believe most churches, taught that the man was the head of the family in every way. He was the one responsible for the family.

As such, he had the final say in everything. He made the important decisions. To his credit, Tim discussed most things with me, but we were not equal partners in our marriage. I felt that he was the master of everything, including me.

I couldn’t tell him about my desire for new sexual experiences because he would just remind me about the teachings of the church. God had ordained only one way for marriage partners to have sex and only one position to accomplish it. Oddly enough, it was referred to as the “missionary” position.

Also, he would remind me that God made only one cavity in a woman to be used for sex. That cavity served for conceiving a baby and then for delivering it nine months later. He would say that Oral sex is an abomination in the sight of God. Anal sex is the equivalent of boarding a train headed straight to the gates of hell. Both of those were an ungodly misuse of an orifice designed for a different purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, our sex was enjoyable and full of love for many years. Predictable, but satisfying. When the ED came along, it wasn’t so satisfying anymore. Due to his reluctance to discuss “private and unmentionable” things like that with another person, even a physician, he didn’t seek any medical help for his ED problem.

All of this amounted to a perfect storm that soon led to some thunder and lightning.

Beginning:

My kids were gone and so was my tortuous monthly menstrual cycle. Maybe it was coincidental, but I began to act on my desire to get more out of life. It became a reality when I decided that I needed a motorcycle.

“You want what?” exclaimed Tim. “Do you know how dangerous those machines are, honey? In a contest with a car, the motorcycle always loses. You’re a mother. If you won’t give that idea up for your own safety, think of your kids.”

“Come on, Tim. Our kids are grown and on their own. It’s not like they need me now like they used to. I want to do something for myself, for a change. I want to live ‘on the edge’ for once in my life. I need to try performing without a net.”

“Where are you going to keep a motorcycle? There sure isn’t any room in the garage for it.”

“I’ve got that covered, Tim. The Browns have agreed to let me keep it in their barn. That’s just a hop, skip, and jump from our house.”

“So, you’re going to take money out of our joint account to buy yourself a motorcycle? Don’t I have some say about where our money goes, honey?”

“I’m glad you mentioned that Tim. I’ve opened a bank account of my own and I think you should do the same.

“I’m putting half of my earnings in my personal account and half in our joint account from now on. You should do it too. Then we each can have some money that we can spend on ourselves without the other’s approval.”

“Sounds like you are slowly but surely moving out of our marriage, Holly. Is that what this is all about?”

“It depends on whether you’re going to let me do some things on my own or not. For instance, I’m not giving up my Harley.”

“You’ve already bought it? Is that what I’m hearing, Holly?”

“You’re hearing right, Tim. I have a Hog of my own. Would you like to see it?”

“I’ll skip that, Holly. I think we should make an appointment with Elder Simpson to discuss our marriage problems. We’ve been together too long to just throw everything away. That’s where we’re headed with your attitude, Holly.”

“Tim, I’m not going to talk with Elder Simpson. I don’t need to hear him quote scripture to me about how the man’s the boss. Maybe that was true when that mythical book was written, but nowadays marriage should be a cooperative effort. Both partners should have an equal say in everything.”

“What’s happened to you, Holly? How can you refer to the Bible as a ‘mythical book?’ You, of all people, should know that there’s no such thing as equality in everything. That’s just not the way things function. Someone has to be the final authority. Everyone should have their input, but ultimately, someone has to be responsible for making a decision in cases where the parties can’t agree.”

“Why does that person always have to be the man, Tim?”

“You know what the Bible says, Holly. You know the words, but let me refresh your memory:

[ Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.]

“That’s from Ephesians 5:22-33, Holly.”

“Yes, Tim, I’m familiar with those words. I don’t think they apply to the modern world.

After that conversation, Tim moved all his clothes to the spare bedroom. Anything that was left of our marriage was in grave danger.

Leaving:

I joined a motorcycle club and began to attend meetings and take some training classes. I took riding classes, safety classes, and even some motorcycle repair classes.

That’s where I met Steffen Barber. He was at least a decade younger than me. I was attracted to him and I could tell that he was interested in me too.

I don’t mean to brag, but I look much younger than I am. When I go places with my daughters, we’re often thought to be sisters. I don’t look old enough to be their mom.

Steffen was really surprised when I told him my age, but it didn’t stop him from giving me the full-court press.

We rode together on many motorcycle events and outings. On “buddy-rides,” we were always “buddies.”

At that point, we were only associating at motorcycle events. We were both married. My children were grown, but Steffen had three pre-teen kids. He had two daughters and a son. We were attracted to each other, for sure, and we had fun together, but that’s as far as it went.

Steffen was a car salesman. I’d decided to trade in my old minivan for something more exciting. I talked to Steffen about it. He said that he had just the car for me. I dropped by the dealership and he showed me a bright-red Mustang. I had to have that car!

We worked out a trade. Steffen gave me a really good deal. After the sale was completed, Steffen suggested that we go to lunch together to celebrate. That was the beginning of a relationship that included more than just motorcycle-connected activities.

Over a period of a few months, lunches turned into dinners. Soon, dinner became what could only be called “dating.” We had to be very careful. We had to sneak around. It was difficult, but the relationship grew, slowly but surely.

We learned that we both considered ourselves to be in “failing” marriages. I was especially worried about being responsible for breaking up his family. I didn’t want to be responsible for hurting his young children.

He assured me that his marriage was already over. No matter what happened between the two of us, he’d be getting a divorce.

Meanwhile, my marriage was getting more and more fractured. When I brought the Mustang home, the proverbial “shit hit the fan.”

“What in the world are you trying to do, Holly? Can’t you act your age? First a Harley and now a Mustang! Do you think those things make you a young chick again? Who are you anyway? For God’s sake; grow up and act your age.”

At that point, Tim told me that we were going to see Elder Simpson next week. It wasn’t a choice; it was a command.

[Remember: “Wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”]

“Look, Tim, I don’t buy that crap anymore. You can talk to the Exalted Elder all you want, but I won’t. Our children have all left. They were the only glue holding us together for the last year or so. If you try to force me to talk to Elder Simpson, I’ll end it right now. I mean it, Tim. Our marriage is in your hands.”

The following day when I got home from work, Elder Simpson was sitting in our living room with Tim. I just turned on my heel and walked out the door. I drove to my sister’s house and crashed on her couch for the night.

The next day, I decided to fly away. After Tim had left for work, my sister and I drove her pickup truck to our house. It took several trips, but I was soon a semi-permanent occupant of her guest bedroom, and lots of my things were in storage. Most reminders of me had been removed from the house that I’d loved so much through so many years. Without any warning, I had taken the first step out of my marriage.

I soon followed that with additional steps. I contacted a law firm that specialized in marriage problems and divorce law. They assigned an attorney to my case. His name is Alvin Lane. He has a degree in Psychology in addition to his law credentials. I explained my situation to him and told him that I wanted to file for a divorce. He probed my heart and mind for any way to save my marriage, but finally gave up and had his legal team prepare the necessary papers.

Tim called me nearly every day. We talked, but neither of us would budge from our position.

After we had the divorce papers in hand, we agreed to meet at a nearby restaurant.

He was still looking for ways to save our marriage. I told him that I couldn’t see any future for us. Since he didn’t see our marriage as a partnership, there was no way for us to continue.

He held his head in his hands as he said, “You’ve charged me with Extreme Mental Cruelty. Really? I would’ve thought that would mean telling you that you were a horrible wife or that you were not a good mother. Something like saying that you were a bad person and that I was sorry that I’d married you. Or maybe throwing cuss words at you. Have I ever done any of those things? Can you please give me an example of my being mentally cruel to you?”

I answered, “How about saying ‘wives should submit to their husbands in everything.’ Isn’t that a mentally cruel statement, Tim?”

“Those aren’t my words, Holly. If you believe the Bible at all anymore, then you know that they’re God’s words. Are you divorcing me, or God?

“While we’re at it, Holly, I’m also charged with being an ‘Excessively Controlling Spouse.’ Please, tell me what I’ve done that led you to accuse me of that.”

“Well, for one thing, you never let me drive when we went somewhere on a family trip.”

“I never let you drive? Well, usually when we went on those trips, you’d already packed a lunch, some snacks, and even some suitcases. You’d already done the things that made the trip possible. Are you saying that I should have made you drive too?

“Holly, I guess I always thought that you’d already done your part. I thought it was my duty to do the driving. I never suspected that you wanted to drive or that you resented me for not letting you drive. Did you ever ask me to let you drive? I’m sure I would’ve let you drive if I’d had any idea you wanted, or maybe even needed, to do it. I honestly don’t remember you ever asking to drive.

“Can you give me some more examples of where I went wrong? Please, I need to know, Holly.”

“Oh, Tim, those charges are just lawyer legalese. It’s providing some reason for our parting. It’s like adultery or abandonment or irreconcilable differences. It’s just a reason that the lawyers use.”

“I get that, Holly, but the reasons you’ve given aren’t true and they’re very unfair and hurtful to me. If you want to be rid of me that much, then I don’t want to deny you your freedom.”

Saying that, he picked up his pen and signed the divorce petition. Then he handed the papers to me and left the restaurant.

The next time I saw him was the day we went to court. The judge granted me alimony and half of all our assets, which included our house. Even I thought that it was extreme, but I knew that Steffen and I would need the money.

Steffen’s divorce resulted in him paying child support and alimony in addition to giving the house to his wife, at least until the children were eighteen years old. Steffen had to pay half of the house payment but wasn’t allowed to live there. Go, figure!

If his wife re-married, much of that would go away. For that reason, I can guarantee that she’ll never remarry. She may be a wife to someone in every way possible, but she’ll never make it legal. She’s smarter than that. So am I.

As I walked out of the building, Elder Simpson intercepted me. I’d seen him in the courtroom, but I sure didn’t want to talk to him. He just put his hand on my shoulder and said, “When you wrong one of God’s servants, it never goes unpunished. You may avoid the punishment for a long time, but it will come. It will come.”

Crazy old fool! If he’s trying to scare me, he failed. I felt bad for Tim, but not because of what Elder Simpson had to say.

Message:

Steffen and I didn’t live together after our divorces. I bought a small house with the money that Tim gave me when he bought out my share of our home. It was like Steffen and I were still dating. We were more than friends with benefits, but less than husband and wife. Getting married would be stupid for us since it would end my alimony. Much of our “exciting” life was being financed by my alimony from Tim. How incredulous is that?

Steffen and I did lots of exciting things. We attended many major league sporting events together, including a World Series Game, a Super Bowl, and a basketball final-four game. There’s no doubt about it, we were moving in exclusive circles and living the very definition of an exciting life.

We went on fabulous vacations. We even went to England and France. We have pictures of us visiting Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower. We went to the best National Parks too, sometimes on our motorcycles.

The excitement was there both in and out of bed. Much of what we did in bed would be considered sinful by Tim. Steffen took me to heights where the air was so rare that I often came close to passing out. He introduced me to many things; the most mind-blowing of which had to be my introduction to multiple orgasms. Tim always considered the job done when he had made his deposit. Quite often, that meant no orgasm for me. Neither of us ever had more than one! That was then, this is now.

Unlike Tim, Steffen recognized no sexual limits. He was not above using any or all of my orifices for anything he desired. It didn’t matter whether or not that was their originally intended purpose. While Tim was always gentle, Steffen was aggressive. His performance bordered on roughness. He dominated me and I loved it! In a way, I was fulfilling my biblical role more with Steffen than I had with Tim. I was submitting to my man completely, just as the good-book ordered! Having said that, I’m sure Elder Simpson wouldn’t see it that way. He would have abandoned me to the devil and sent me streaking straight to hell.

At first, all my children turned on me. That was the one real price that I paid for what I did. As time went by, my two daughters accepted the reality of my new life. Only Anna forgave me. Dolly didn’t forgive me, but she accepted me and allowed me back into her life. My son may never accept what I did, let alone forgive me. He sides entirely with his father and refuses to even talk to me unless it’s absolutely necessary.

The first dark cloud in my new life appeared when a hail storm came through town. It damaged the roof of almost every house in town. Mine was no exception. I needed a new roof, but I had insurance, so it was no big deal.

When the crew came to do the roofing job, they discovered that part of the roof supporting structure was rotten. Upon further investigation, they found that one whole wall was rotten and covered with toxic mold.

The cost of repairing the house would be $20,000. I bought the house for $80,000. If I were to repair it, I’d have $100,000 tied up in an $80,000 house.

I consulted a lawyer about suing the former owners for non-disclosure of the rot and mold. He said that we would have to prove that they knew about it before the sale. That might prove to be difficult.

Upon further investigation, he discovered that the sellers had gone through an expensive divorce and there was probably no way to get that kind of money from them.

He said that even if we could get a judgment against them, which was far from certain, getting the money was an entirely different thing. It’s a “blood from turnip” situation, he observed. So, no matter how I look at it, I’m screwed.

A few days after I got the bad news about my house, as I was surfing the web with my iPhone, a pop-up window appeared. It said: [A former believer has rejected God. The punishment will be three curses. The first curse is underway. Two more curses will follow unless there is immediate repentance.]

Really? A Curse?

I concluded that the curse declaration had to have been sent by one of three people. It could’ve been sent by Tim, Jeremy, or Elder Simpson. No matter who was responsible, it was a dastardly thing to do. It certainly was not a “Christian” act. How did they get it to appear in a pop-up window on my iPhone screen? That’s a mystery in itself.

It was two days later when I began to believe in curses. Somehow, the city got word about the condition of my house. An inspector came out and my house ended up being condemned. That meant that I had to vacate the house immediately. Then, I had thirty days to start getting it repaired or have it torn down and removed from the lot. The only other option was to sell it to someone else with full disclosure of the rot and mold. What are the chances of that resulting in a sale?

I also found out that insurance companies are happy to collect their premiums but unhappy to make payments. They would have covered replacing the roof, but rot and mold were not covered by my policy. My loss would be huge!

I knew that paying $20,000 to repair the house was not an option. Having it torn down and hauled away was priced to me at $8,000. Figuring that I might get $12,000 for the lot, my loss would still be $76,000.

I talked it over with Steffen and he, rather reluctantly, invited me to move in with him. It presented some complications when it was his turn to have the kids at his place. Also, it allowed me to see some sides of him that I’d never seen before.

We’d been lovers, and as such, we were together a lot. But we both had our own little domains to retreat to, which meant that we each had our privacy too. We had the best of both worlds.

When I moved in with him, we were always together except when one or both of us was at work. There’s a hell of a difference. Things that didn’t bother me when I witnessed them occasionally, bothered me much more when I saw them repeatedly.

It was a bunch of little things. His facial expression when I said something that he disagreed with. How quickly he got mad when something went wrong. How opinionated he was about people, especially my friends. Of course, there was the universal problem of leaving the toilet seat up.

There was nothing big, just a lot of small but annoying actions and views. I was especially disappointed in the way he treated his children. He wasn’t very tolerant and was very quick to punish. It wasn’t my place to interfere, so I didn’t say anything. His parenting skills weren’t even close to what I’d seen from Tim.

After a month had passed, I was on my way to work one day when I saw Tim’s truck parked at the hole-in-the-wall café where he liked to get breakfast. I decided that it was about time to confront him about the curse-message fiasco.

When I entered the cafe, he was sitting at the counter. I sat down next to him and said, “Let’s get a booth.”

He looked at me with a strange expression on his face. He signaled the waitress, picked up his coffee, and walked to an open booth.

I sat across from him and ordered coffee and a Danish. When the waitress left, I looked him in the eye and said, “OK, Tim. What’s all this curse-message shit about?”

His look convinced me that he had no idea what I was talking about. I’d lived with him for enough years to know how to read him. “What are you talking about, Holly? This is strange even for you. What do you mean by curse-message shit? Guess you need to enlighten me.”

I said, “Before we get to that, look at this,” as I showed him the condemnation report from the city. He looked startled. “I heard from the kids that you had a problem with your house, but I never heard about it being condemned. Can’t you get your money back from the seller?” he asked.

“I tried that. I consulted a lawyer. He said I might get a judgment against them, but it was a long-shot since we would have to prove that they knew about the problem when they sold. Even if we got a judgment, there’s very little chance of getting any money. They divorced, are broke, and have left the area. The lawyer said things went pretty bad for them financially after the divorce.”

“I can relate to that. Been there, done that,” stated Tim.

I ignored his comment and showed him the curse message saying, “If you’re not behind this message, then I think it has to be Jeremy or Elder Simpson.”

“Holly, how do you think it would help me to do anything to hurt you? I need things to go well with you and your lover-boy so he’ll marry you and I can start keeping some of my salary. I swear to you, I know nothing about that message. As for Elder Simpson, he died two months ago. How did you not see that in the paper? His car was hit by a train. It was all over the news.”

“I guess that might have been when Steffen and I were overseas. I didn’t keep up with the hometown news.”

“The kids told me about your trip. That must be nice. Wish I could afford a trip.”

I ignored that comment. “Guess I need to talk to Jeremy. It must be him doing this,” I muttered.

“Holly, he doesn’t like what you did to me and our family, but he’d never do anything like that. The boy still loves you. He just can’t handle the fallout that you caused.”

“So, where did this message come from, Tim? Do you expect me to believe an angel sent it?”

“No. I think you should be looking at your lover boy’s wife and extended family. They’re the ones that got hurt the most by your actions. I got knocked down, but they got knocked out!”

“His wife seemed to take it pretty well, Tim. She doesn’t seem like a vengeful type of person,” I replied.

“If she took losing her husband and family with no thought of vengeance, then she’s a saint,” answered Tim.

“Look, Holly, I know the fire chief pretty well. We play cards together once a week. I think I might be able to work a deal for you with him. You could offer your house to them for a practice operation. They’d burn it and clean up the lot at no cost to you. Then you could put the lot up for sale. I’m not saying you’d get your money back, but you could minimize your losses. You’d get a tax break too since it would be handled like a donation to charity. If you want, I’ll ask him to give you a call.”

I did some quick figuring in my head. A loss of $68,000 would be better than losing $76,000. Also, with the tax break, I might end up losing less than $68,000. I thanked Tim and told him to set it up with the fire department. I left the restaurant thinking about Tim. He had every reason to hate me, but I’m convinced that he had nothing to do with the curse message and I think his idea about donating the house to the fire department might be my best option. I doubt that anyone would buy a condemned house. I could get caught having to pay to have it torn down and hauled away. Donating it to the fire department would avoid that.

Two days later, I received a call from the fire chief. He wanted to examine my house to see if it would be a good candidate for a burning exercise. He asked about the mold, and I told him the whole story.

I met him at the house and he examined the affected area and then said that he wanted to have a structural engineer examine the damaged area to see if it would be safe for his men to do the burning exercise.

The engineer arrived about an hour later and completed his examination. He told me that he would give his report to the fire chief.

The next day, I got a call from Tim. He told me that he had some good news for me. “The structural engineer’s report found that the mold in the house was not toxic. He had it checked by two different labs and both confirmed that the mold was not toxic. The original report was in error. The dry rot could be repaired and the non-toxic mold could be easily removed. A local company could make the house safe and inhabitable for around $5,000. They can have the project completed in a week.”

Needless to say, I was overjoyed. Boy, am I glad that I decided to stop and talk to Tim that day! And I’m so thankful that he took an interest in my problem. Steffen hadn’t been any help at all! It was thanks to Tim that we discovered there was no toxic mold and that the rotten wood could be replaced at a small cost. Who was behind all of that false information that resulted in my house being condemned? Could I sue someone?

Rethinking:

Two weeks later, I was back in my own little house. I was very happy to be in charge of my life again. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t enjoy living with Steffen all that much. I believe he felt the same way. I’m quite sure that he was relieved to see me leave. That also marked a considerable decrease in the amount of time that I spent with Steffen. Our dating slowed down to a crawl.

When I threatened to sue the company that had made the false report about the mold, they settled by paying for the repairs. The whole thing would end up costing me nothing and I would have a new roof and a sound house. It was at that point that I stepped back and did some soul searching.

It was not lost on me that when disaster struck, Steffen did hardly anything to help me. It was Tim that came to my rescue. After everything that I’d done to him, he was there for me. He could have rejoiced in my karma and left me hanging, but he’s not that kind of man.

When our trouble all started, if he had indulged some of my craziness and let me wander around a bit; maybe get his-and-her motorcycles, I might have been content. I think “content” is a keyword for us in many respects.

I had been content with my life right up until the day that I wasn’t. I was content with my husband, my family, my house, and even my church. My sex life wasn’t anything like what I have with Steffen, but I was content with it. In fact, the contentment I felt during the cuddling-afterglow with Tim was as powerful in its way as the excitement that I felt with Steffen. Having said that, I know that I wouldn’t be sexually content with Tim anymore. Not after experiencing Steffen in bed.

There’s one thing about escalation; it’s difficult to go back. Escalation feeds on itself. Once I’d experienced the new positions for sex and the almost painfully erotic sensations that Steffen provided, I was looking forward, not backward. How long would it be before I would need DP and threesomes for satisfaction? Escalation calls for more escalation, not less. I began to wonder if I could change that. Could I go against the grain and start downshifting?

Number Two:

My reverie ended when I received another pop-up message. This one simply said: [ The second curse is coming. Be ready.]

Nothing bad happened until the following Thursday when I got a frantic call from Anna saying that Maxell, my grandson, had been involved in an accident on his four-wheeler. He was in the hospital. He’d suffered severe head and back injuries. The doctors warned that there was a chance he would be paralyzed.

Steffen was out of town attending a car show. Without a thought, I picked up my phone and called Tim. He’d been informed too and was leaving work to pack a bag and head to Anna’s house.

“Tim, do you want to ride down with me?” I asked. “I can come by the house and pick you up. I’ve already packed. I can be at the house in a few minutes. Just look for my Mustang.”

“Holly, let’s take my SUV. That Mustang holds some bad memories for me. Besides, there’s lots more storage for luggage and all in the SUV.”

“Ok, Tim, I get that. You know where I am. I’ll be ready when you get here.”

I called Steffen and left a message telling him what had happened. I informed him that I was heading to Anna’s to be with her family and help out. I didn’t, however, tell him that I was riding down with Tim.

When Tim arrived, I put my stuff in his SUV. While doing that, I told him that I’d received a second curse message which was probably why this “accident” had happened to Maxell.

“Holly, are you saying you got another of those messages and it predicted what happened to Maxell?” he cried. “Let me see it, Holly. What does it say?”

I brought up the message and handed him my phone. He took my phone and handed me the keys to his SUV.

“You want me to drive?”, I questioned.

“You drive while I read,” he exclaimed.

It was not lost on me that he’d asked me to drive his precious SUV.

After he read the message, he said, “It’s not very specific. This could just be a strange coincidence.”

“It could be,” I answered; “but won’t you admit that it would be one hell of a coincidence?”

“Yeah, I see that; but I can’t bring myself to believe that they’re messages from God either. This is strange stuff, Holly. Very strange stuff.”

When we arrived, we went straight to the hospital. The news was not good. Maxell couldn’t move his legs. He was paralyzed below the waist. If the paralysis persisted, they could try an operation. They called in a specialist from another city for a consultation.

When the specialist arrived and examined Maxell, he said that there was a 50/50 chance that Maxell would recover in the next week or two. If the paralysis persisted, the chances of the operation working were a little less than 50/50. He’d have to wait for the swelling to subside and treat the severe inflammation before he could operate. He advised us to schedule the operation now so we would be on the list if it was needed. We could always cancel if the paralysis subsided.

The family was in complete agreement that we needed to give Maxell every chance possible to get well, so we scheduled the operation. We all agreed to chip in on any non-covered expenses.

On the day that Tim and I left for home, things were still not improving. It looked like Maxell would be needing the operation.

Tim and I didn’t have many chances to talk until we were in the SUV heading home. We decided that we’d go halfway and stop for lunch. He told me to pick which half I wanted to drive. I said that I wanted to drive first in case he changed his mind. He assured me that he was not going to change his mind. He handed me the keys once again.

“Tim, I feel like I’m to blame for what happened to Maxell. As much as I hate to consider that there might be some ‘twilight-zone’ stuff going on with those curse-messages, I can’t get over thinking that they’re meant to punish me.”

“Holly, think about it. If this was done to punish you, why am I being punished too? I’m hurting about Maxell as much as you are. So, if it is punishment, it’s directed at both of us.”

“I was the one that nearly lost a house because of that first curse, Tim. You’re just collateral damage in this second curse.

“Tim, I spent many years by your side and I’ve never heard a fire-and-brimstone sermon from you. But I’ve heard plenty of them from other preachers. I remember these words being quoted by Elder Simpson himself: [Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.]

“Tim, I think the impending things are hastening upon me.”

“Holly, that quote is from the old testament. I think God treated us differently in the old testament than Jesus did in the new testament. It’s kind of like parenting. When your child is young and just learning, there are things they can’t understand no matter how hard you try to explain them. Sometimes you must teach them through corporal punishment. When they’re older, you can reason with them. Corporal punishment is no longer required.

“Jesus taught us and reasoned with us through love. He moved away from corporal punishment. Do you remember the prostitute that was brought to him and he asked the person that was without sin to cast the first stone? He also forgave her.”

“I do remember that story, Tim. Do you know what I think about every time I hear it? I always wonder why Jesus failed to ask them where the man was. It takes two to tango, Tim. As usual, only the woman was dragged out to be killed.”

“You have a point there, Holly. I hadn’t thought about that. In your case, I don’t think for a moment that the so-called curse-messages are from God or that you’re responsible for what happened to Maxell. What you did mainly hurt me. I’ve forgiven you. If I forgive you, how can God not forgive you too? You have to stop blaming yourself. I hope that you can forgive me too.”

I can’t believe this man. I’ve hurt him as much as one person can hurt another, and he talks about forgiving me. What kind of man is this? Why did I turn away from him?

When Tim dropped me off at my house, I kissed him lightly on the cheek and thanked him for everything.

Reconsidering:

My son still doesn’t talk to me. My daughters tolerate me. They were nice to me when Tim and I were there to see Maxell. They were nice to me, but they were loving toward Tim. There’s a big difference and I could feel it. Everyone could see it.

Tim did his best to include me in everything. I believe that Tim really did forgive me. His actions proved it.

Ever since Tim said that it was probably Steffen’s ex sending those messages, I’ve wondered about Celia. Was she behind it? Did she have the computer skills to do something like that? Or was it Steffen himself? Were they both involved?

I just don’t know. My mind is numb. All I know for sure is that I’ve made a horrible mistake. I wanted an exciting life, and I’d gotten it on steroids. I devastated a good man that had proven himself for many years for the excitement of a younger man that had provided all of the things that I thought I was looking for.

Steffen was very good in bed. Sex with him was never boring. And yes, we went on exciting trips together and attended exclusive events. Never mind that we financed most of that with my alimony from my mundane ex-husband. Never mind that Steffen never proposed to me or bought me a ring. He was not about to kill the goose whose “golden eggs” made everything possible.

Even so, things were cooling off between us. I began to suspect that he’d found someone else. What did I expect? He cheated on his wife with me. I’m not even married to him. What would keep him from going outside of our relationship? What would keep him from cheating on me? I knew the answer to that question; absolutely nothing.

Fantasy

Weeks went by. I hardly ever saw Steffen. I hadn’t seen Tim since we got back from visiting Maxell. Talk about a mundane life!

I’ll admit to being horny. I had a collection of dildoes, but they weren’t giving me much satisfaction. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see Steffen coming up my sidewalk right after I got home from work. I offered to fix us a meal. He said, “Don’t worry about supper. You’ll have plenty to eat. I’ve got a nice surprise for you. He picked me up and headed for the bedroom. I won’t lie, I was ready for whatever he had in mind.

We were on my bed. He was heating me up with his fingers and tongue. He made no move to do anything more than foreplay. I was like a firecracker! My fuse was burning, but he wouldn’t let me go off. This was not like Steffen. He’d never moved this slowly before. I was way past ready. I was about to get one of my dildoes when the doorbell rang.

Steffen jumped up and ran to the door naked. I heard him talking to someone in the living room. Why did he let someone in the house?

That question was answered when the bedroom door opened and he walked in with two other naked men. I looked up and said, “What the hell, Steffen?”

“Well, Holly, my slut. I remembered your fantasy about being double penetrated and enjoying a threesome. This is your fantasy becoming a reality. Between the three of us, you’ll be getting about thirty inches at a time. By midnight, all of your holes will be full. You’ll be able to get your supper by just swallowing.”

What I experienced that night was mind-numbing. Steffen was his normal aggressive self. The guy they called Bill was even more aggressive than Steffen. The one called Luke was different. He was somewhat aggressive at the start. In fact, a couple of times he spanked my naked ass quite hard with his hand. He seemed to be mad at me. He even growled at me a couple of times. I didn’t know what to think about him. As time went by, his attitude must have changed. He began treating me better. He started entering me very slowly while kissing my lips or my breast, depending on whether or not my mouth was available. He would ease in and then pull out. He was driving me insane, but it was a fantastic insanity. Yes, he continued to use me but unlike the other two, he didn’t abuse me. With him, there was no roughness or domination. It reminded me of when Tim was in his prime. It was not lost on me that while doing the most sinful thing I had ever done, I thought of Tim.

It had been going on for hours and I was losing it. I began to drift away at times. I was pretty well unresponsive to anything. I guess it stopped being satisfying for the guys too when I turned into a wet noodle.

Steffen and Bill got dressed and left just before midnight. Luke was still in the process of locating his clothes and getting dressed. I was spent and sore. I had cum running down my legs like a river. Steffen was right, I had swallowed my liquid dinner and I wasn’t hungry. All of my orifices felt full. I wondered for a dizzy moment if Elder Simpson was watching me from above.

I saw Luke walk into the bathroom. He was still in his underwear! I heard water running. In my fuzzy dreariness and lingering pain, I wondered what was happening in there. Why was he still in his underwear? “My God, I hope he doesn’t want more sex!” That was the thought running through my mind.

I was in a woozy stupor when I felt myself being lifted from the bed. I looked up and saw Luke’s face. His strong arms were holding me softly as he carried me to the bathroom and gently placed me in a glorious bath of heavenly warm water. It felt like paradise to my overused body.

As I enjoyed the comfy, healing water; my thoughts ran wild. How many times did Steffen call me his slut that evening? Bill must have thought my name was “whore.” That’s all he ever called me. Only Luke called me Holly and sometimes a word of endearment like “honey” or “sweetheart.”

As I continued to ponder, I wished that my fantasy had remained just that. When I experienced it, at first, I was in heaven. By the time it ended, I was in hell. It was apparent that Steffen didn’t hold me in any regard whatsoever. I was nothing but his whore and he was happy to share me with his friends.

Through the heavy fog in my head, I watched as Luke gently cleansed my body of foreign fluids and ineffective lubricants. With every stroke of the washcloth, I could feel my sin washing away. I was barely awake when he placed my limp body in my bed. I whispered, “thanks, Tim.” If Luke corrected me, I didn’t hear him.

I did notice him crawling into bed with me and warming my shaking body with his warm skin. Soon there was nothing but darkness. It lasted until I awoke to the smell of fresh coffee brewing.

I slithered out of bed and groped for my robe. Somehow, I wrapped it around my naked body and stumbled my way toward the delightful smell of bacon frying.

When I made it to the kitchen door, Luke ran to me and helped me get to my chair. He placed a plate filled with bacon, eggs, and hash browns in front of me along with a steaming cup of divine coffee. I was as hungry as I’d ever been in my life, but I also felt queasy. Luke kissed my cheek and that helped my hunger overtake my nausea. I ate like a starving beast.

Luke called in sick and helped me do the same. We spent the day talking, hugging, and recovering. Luke apologized profusely and often. I told him about Tim and my marriage woes, the ensuing divorce, and my house problems. I told him about the mysterious messages. I emptied my soul to this man that I didn’t even know; to this man that participated in my ravaging just a few hours ago. Somehow, it seemed alright.

He told me about his wife, Jamie. She died six months ago in a boating accident. When it happened, he thought she was spending the weekend at her mother’s house. He was devastated when he learned the truth. The boat she was in belonged to a guy named Jake Sommers. She was enjoying herself with another man. It all came out. Jake had been Jamie’s lover for nearly a year. Luke had been clueless.

When it all hit him, when he realized the extent of the betrayal, he became bitter. He turned on all women. He wanted to hurt them to compensate for the way a woman had demolished him. That’s why he had readily agreed to take part in the threesome with me at Steffen’s invitation.

As the sexual acts progressed, he saw me wither. He saw my eagerness turn into helplessness. It didn’t make him feel better, it made him feel worse. He felt dirty, filthy, and tarnished. For some reason, his hate of what Jamie did to him turned to compassion for this woman that was shifting from eagerness and lust to hopelessness and regret. He envisioned me as Jamie before the life-ending affair. He wanted to do for me what he couldn’t do for her. He was a godsend to this devil-possessed woman that I had become.

We shared our lives through an endless conversation that day. It continued through the simple but delicious lunch that he prepared for us and the dinner at a nice restaurant that evening. When he drove me home, I felt like I was with an old friend. He told me he felt the same way.

When we pulled into my driveway, he ran over and opened my door. He left his car running as he walked me to my door. I was confused. I asked him to pull his car into the garage and stay the night with me. He said that he was unable to shift gears that quickly. He said, “I participated in your savaging last night, and now I’m going to be your lover tonight? I want to be your lover, but I want it to be when you’ve had time to digest everything that happened. You need to know what you feel for Steffen and Tim before you consider forgiving me, let alone loving me.

I watched him drive away and it was like seeing my best friend leave. For all intents and purposes, he had rescued me. Yes, he participated in that orgy, but so did I. Maybe I became a victim as things progressed, but I was a willing participant at the beginning. One thing about it, I lived out my fantasy and there’s nothing of it left in my heart or brain. No more fantasies for me! I want reality, whatever that turns out to be.

Reality:

Then came another life-changing day. It was the day that Anna called to tell me that Maxell was improving. He moved his ankles and toes that night. He also could feel touches on his legs. The doctors gave him a very good chance for a full recovery. A full recovery! It doesn’t get any better than that.

I was as happy as I’d been in months. Maxell’s doing great and I’m in my little house again. “God is in his heaven, and all’s right with the world.”

Only one thing was bothering me. Anna told me that she’d tried calling her dad several times to tell him the good news, but both his landline and cell went straight to voice mail. She left messages but hadn’t heard anything from him. That was odd.

I decided to drive past the old house on my way to work. His truck wasn’t in the driveway. But what left me aghast was the for-sale sign in the yard.

I called Dolly. She hadn’t been able to contact her dad either, but she was as surprised as me about the for-sale sign. She speculated that some kids had put the sign there as a lark, or a real estate office had placed it there by mistake. I saved the phone number for the real estate office in my phone contacts. While I was doing that, I received another pop-up message. It read: [Today marks the third and final curse.] Now my day wasn’t so happy.

When I arrived at work, I called the real estate office. They confirmed that Tim Sherman had authorized his son, Jeremy, to list the house. The listing was completed two days ago. Upon getting that information, I decided the only thing I could do was bite the bullet and call Jeremy. He might tell me to go to hell, but I had to make the effort.

I called his cell and he surprised me by answering.

“What do you want?” he growled.

“Jeremy, I know you hate me and you have good reason to, but for God’s sake, Son, please tell me why your father is selling the house and why he doesn’t answer his phone?”

“Why do you care, Mom? Why in the hell do you think that it concerns you? You left him for some slime ball. Have you forgotten that?”

“Ok, Jeremy. If the mistake I made can’t ever be forgiven; if you can’t understand that I never stopped loving you or your father, then I guess it comes down to what your dad always used to say, ‘If I needed to know, they’d tell me.’ You remember him saying that, don’t you Son?”

“OK, Mom, since I think you’re responsible for what’s happened, I guess you need to know what you’ve done. That man that you left after so many years together. That man that you still claim to love. That man is dying, Mom. He’s dying!

“He’s in the Houston Cancer Hospital. I’m the only family member here at his side. When you thought he had ED and left him for someone more virile; when you took a lover to replace your dysfunctional husband; did it ever occur to you that it might be more than simple erectile dysfunction? Did the word, “cancer,” ever enter your mind?

“In your conspicuous absence, I brought him here to Houston to have his prostate removed. When they did the preliminary staging tests, they discovered that his cancer had spread. He was in stage four. When I asked the doctor about the extent of the spreading, he said that a list of places where it hadn’t invaded would be a shorter list than where it had.

“Maybe that’s why you can’t reach him. Better go back to the stud that keeps you happy in bed. Dad can’t do that anymore. You were right about that, Mom. It’s a good thing for you that you found that guy.”

At that point, Jeremy’s tough facade broke and he began to sob.

“Son, listen to me. I’m heading to Houston right now. How do I get to the hospital? What’s his room number?”

When Jeremy was able to talk again, he informed me that they were coming back home. They would be leaving in a few hours. Tim would be going to an extended care facility just down the street from our old house. He would stay there until he died. Hospice would be on hand to help him through his last days.

“As to your question about why he’s selling the house, Mom, it cost him a lot of money to buy-out your part of the house. The alimony you got was a strain too. Since you also got half of all his assets, and since he can no longer work, he’s selling the house so he won’t leave any huge medical bills for us kids to pay when he’s gone.

“I just hope this makes you happy, Mom. You won, he lost. He lost big time. He’s sunk about as low as a man can sink. It’s all thanks to you, Mom. Just continue with your newly found happiness and leave us alone.”

“Jeremy, listen to me and believe every word I say. I want you to call the real estate company and cancel the listing. I want you to bring Tim home to his house. I will take a leave-of-absence from work. I will care for him 24/7 in his own home. He’ll be in the house that he loves and he’ll be cared for by someone that loves him. I do love him, Jeremy, I do.

“I didn’t win anything. I lost more than you can imagine. I will dedicate myself to care for the man that for so many years took such good care of me. I promise that, Son.

“At home in his house, you and your sisters can come and stay anytime you want. Your old rooms will be ready. I’ll see to that. I suppose it’s all my fault like you said. I know this; it’s my duty to do this for him and our children. I’ll see to it that he has everything he needs. I’ll use that money that you mentioned to do everything for him that’s possible to make him comfortable.

“Jeremy, can you do this for him? I beg you, Son. Please help me help him. It makes sense, Son. You know that it does.”

When Jeremy composed himself, he answered: “Thanks, Mom. I was praying that something like this would happen. I was praying for a miracle. I never dreamed, after all that happened, that you would provide the miracle. I’ll make the calls to the real estate company and the long-term care facility. I’ll cancel both. I’ll bring Dad home. Thanks, Mom.”

Home:

I was sitting on the porch swing when Tim and Jeremy drove up to the house. I ran out to the car and opened the passenger door. I helped Tim out of the car and walked hand in hand with him to the porch steps.

He struggled up the steps with my help. I was appalled at how much he had deteriorated since the last time I saw him. He was panting when he finally sat down in his favorite recliner.

Jeremy showed me the bag of medicine that the hospital had sent home with him. There were three sheets of instructions about how and when the meds should be administered.

The first order of business was getting Tim comfortable. Next, I made snacks for him and Jeremy.

After Jeremy left, it was just Tim and me together in this special house for the first time in many moons. We conversed like two old friends that hadn’t seen each other for years. We had lots of catching up to do.

Tim finally got tired and took a nap. While he was napping, I read all of the instructions that the doctors had provided. I was determined to give him the best care possible.

When bedtime came, I helped Tim get into bed. He was suffering some severe back pain. I rubbed the salve that had been provided into the painful area. He was finally able to obtain some relief and get some sleep. I crawled into bed with him. I wanted to be close-by if he needed anything.

Once during the night, I sensed that he was in distress. He seemed to be in a panic. I reached out and touched him. He looked at me there right next to him. He grabbed my hand. He calmed down immediately. He held my hand until he fell asleep again.

As the days passed, we were as close as ever before. We spent some happy hours reminiscing. We spoke a lot about the past, but never about the future. We were comfortable with each other as much as ever. We were as happy as it was possible to be, under the circumstances. We cuddled together every night.

There were also many hours when we just held each other and cried. Maybe we were each crying for different reasons, but our tears mingled into a river of hurt, regret, and hopelessness. As his condition continued to worsen, we had to buy a walker. A couple of weeks later, we bought a wheelchair.

I knew the time was getting short and I desperately wanted to take Tim to church one more time, but we needed a specially equipped van to make that happen. I visited a dealer that I knew handled custom vehicles. They located a van that was just what we needed. It was one of those tall ones made by Mercedes called a Sprinter. It was modified to include a lift and other equipment to handle a wheelchair patient. The salesman wasn’t sure they could have it here by Saturday.

When I saw the price, I was disappointed. It was very expensive. I was willing to trade in my Harley and my Mustang, but the salesman wasn’t sure they could accept a motorcycle. He left to talk to the boss about it.

When he came back, he said that the boss had been on his way down to talk to me, but halfway down the stairs, he turned around and went back to his office. The salesman ventured that his boss must have received an important phone call.

We waited a few minutes for the boss. The salesman got us coffee and donuts while we waited. Talk about surprises! When the boss joined us, it was Luke! He said, “When I saw who the customer was, I needed some time to think about the situation.

“I made some phone calls and I have a proposal for you.”

I quipped, “Oh, Luke. This is so sudden, but I accept!”

He grinned saying, “That comes later, but I like your answer.

He told me that one of his rules was to never turn down a sale, but in my case, since he knew the circumstances, he made some calls and found a perfectly equipped van that he could lend me. He pointed out that when the inevitable happened, I would be stuck with a van I didn’t need, plus, the Harley and Mustang that I loved would be gone. He said if I approved, it would cost me nothing for however long I needed the van. He could deliver it on Friday.

I was ecstatic. I said, “Luke, you don’t know how glad I am that I met you. I know the circumstances were dismal, but at least some good came from a bad deed. This will be such a good thing for Tim. I’ll be eternally grateful.

“How did we converse so long and I didn’t know anything about how you earn your living?”

“Well, Holly, I don’t know about your job either. Guess we had more important things to talk about. Don’t you think this means that we need to have more conversations? When the time is right, let’s see to that.”

I hugged him and whispered my answer in his ear. He smiled.

When I got home, I told Tim that I’d rented a van that was equipped to handle a wheelchair. I told him that we would use it to get him to church on Sunday.

I was taken aback when he informed me that he hadn’t been to church since the day I left him. Tears were streaming down my face as I shrieked, “What have I done? I turned you away from your God!”

“No, Holly, don’t blame yourself. When you started on the path that would ultimately lead you away from me. When you bought the Harley and the Mustang. When you began to question my authority as head of the family and even the Word of God that it was based on, I began to pray.

“I prayed harder than I’d ever prayed before. I prayed for guidance to keep you at my side and for the preservation of our family. On the day that you left me, I said one last prayer. To be more accurate, I yelled the prayer at the top of my voice. It was the prayer that Jesus uttered from the cross: ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’ That’s was the last prayer to cross my lips. I haven’t been to church and I haven’t prayed since.

“While we are on that subject; when you told me about the curses, I knew that it was my rejection that caused it all. You blamed yourself, but it was me. You once said that I was just collateral damage, but in truth, you were suffering collateral damage because I rejected God.”

“Oh, Tim. I don’t believe that. Your God would never turn on you like that. You have served him well for as long as I’ve known you. He’s a God of love.”

“Holly, look at me. Does this shell of a man look like a man in God’s favor? Do you think I’m feeling his love? I’ve never been so alone. I lost both you and God.”

“You might have lost me for a while, but I’m certain that you didn’t lose God,” I stated.

Then, out of the blue, he asked me if I was a feminist. I was very reluctant to enter uncharted territory that might be counterproductive, but I knew that I couldn’t ignore him. I told him that I was an equalist, not a feminist. I don’t know if there is such a thing, but it’s what I believe in. I’m for marriage equality.

That evening, I prayed for the first time in a long time. I admitted to God that I didn’t know how he awarded points for getting into heaven. I stated that if I had accumulated any points for being a devoted wife for over twenty years and raising three upstanding children, I wanted those points transferred to Tim’s account. I confessed that it was my fault that he had lost faith.

On Sunday, we did go to church. Everyone was so happy to see us. We were welcomed with open arms. It was like we had never been gone. We met Elder Young; he was Elder Simpson’s replacement. He had an appropriate name since he was a very young-looking man. He was quite different in many respects from his predecessor. It was good to be in our church home again. I repeated the payer that I’d said on Friday while standing at the altar of the church where Tim and I were married. I had never prayed harder in my life.

As we were leaving, I saw Luke! He was talking to Elder Young. Tim was busy talking to some friends, so I excused myself and walked toward Luke. Elder Young saw me coming and said, “Holly, this is my big brother, Luther.”

I reached out to shake hands as if we had never met, but Luke held my hand in both of his as he said, “Bro, this is the woman I told you about.” Elder Young said, “I understand completely. I ask God to surround both of you with his forgiveness, love, and blessings. He’s not done with you two yet.”

Luke squeezed my hand as he said, “I sure hope not.”

Someone else began talking to Elder Young, so I spoke to Luke. “Looks like there’s lots that I don’t know about you. Did you tell him how we met?

“Every detail, Holly. He reminded me that God works in mysterious ways. Can you think of a crazier or more mysterious way to meet the person that you will marry?” he asked.

“No, I can’t. Are my ears deceiving me? Did I just get my second proposal of the day?”

“When it’s appropriate, I’ll do it right. In the meantime, just reserve a place in your heart for me.”

“Already done, Luke. Already done.”

With that, I walked back to Tim with a tear on my cheek. In my heart, I knew that I was walking from one good man to another. Deep down, I realized that I didn’t deserve either one.

I’m so thankful for those last two months that Tim and I were able to spend with each other in our family home. I’m glad that the kids were able to visit often. We were all together for Independence Day. The view of the fireworks from our deck was spectacular. It was so good to be a family again.

I knew that the end was near. In my mind, I pictured it as the whole family gathering at Tim’s bedside in our lovely home as he slipped peacefully into the hands of his God. When it came, it wasn’t like that.

That night, Tim’s pain had been worse than ever. I gave him the maximum dose allowable of the pain medicine, but it didn’t help. All at once, he couldn’t breathe. It was taking all of his energy just to draw a breath. He was struggling so hard that his chest raised off of the bed with every breath as he struggled to get oxygen.

Just the two of us were there. The family wasn’t aware of this sudden development. I couldn’t see him suffer like that anymore.

I went out on the porch and called our family doctor. When he heard what was happening, he sent an ambulance to take us to the hospital. He told me they would make Tim’s last hours comfortable. I called Jeremy and told him where we were. He called the others.

When they let me into Tim’s room, they were giving him some medicine via an IV. He was still having difficulty breathing, but the medicine seemed to be calming him. I let myself wonder if they’d found a miracle drug to make him better. I read the name on the IV bag. It was morphine. Not a miracle cure, but a source of some much-needed relief.

In a few minutes, he was sleeping peacefully. A few hours later, the whole family had gathered at his bedside. Elder Young was there too. We were all there with him wondering with each breath if it would be his last. It was nearly like I’d visualized, but just not at home. Somehow, he lasted through the night. It was like he didn’t want to leave us. One of the nurses encouraged us to speak to him and let him know that it was alright for him to let go. I refused to do that. It wasn’t alright. I wanted him with me as long as possible.

The first rays of sunlight were shining through the window. I held his hand in mine and vowed that I would never let go, and I didn’t. I held it for the rest of his life, which was about fifteen minutes.

The alarm went off. We all looked at the heart-scope. It had flatlined.

I stayed with Tim until they came for his body. As they carried him out, I swear that I saw something leave his body and fly out the window. I ran to the window and watched it fly away. It looped toward our old house and then rose straight upward! I watched it rise and I waved goodbye saying, “Fly away, my love. Fly away to a better place where you will be fully appreciated. Fly away!

Through my tears, I saw Luke entering the room. He walked up to me and hugged me. He wiped my tears away and stayed right beside me as I continued to stand by the window. If I had a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope, I’d be able to see the house where our little family had been so happy. But I knew it would never again be a happy place for us.

It wasn’t the house that provided our happiness. It was the family that had lived and loved within those walls. It was the laughter that echoed in the halls. It was the memories that everyone recalls. It was the joy that flowed from every window. It was the peace that permeated every nook and cranny. Most of all, it was the man that made it all happen. Now, it’s just a house.

I was jolted out of my reverie when my iPhone chimed. I knew that sound, it signaled a new pop-up window. That’s the last thing in the world that I wanted to see. Please, no more curses. My hand trembled as I reached for the phone. I looked at the message. It was just three words. It simply said:

[IT IS OVER]

[I guess everything’s been done]

[If there’s nothing here for you]

[If you want to chase the sun]

[Then that’s what you ought to do]

[And fly, fly away]

[Fly away in the morning]

[Fly, fly away]

[Just don’t give me any warning’]

The End

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