As was his custom, Henry awoke with his heart pounding in his ears, his mind screaming that he was already behind. Wiping the sweat from his face, he leaped into the bathroom to splash his sleepless night away with a touch of cold water.
By the time he was dressed he was already out of breath, and his stomach ulcer was protesting loudly. Rushing into the kitchen, he grabbed a Pop-Tart and a handful of Tums. The kitchen table, counters, and even the floor were piled high with papers. Every day brought more college papers to grade, more articles needing to be written, more book deals to consider, more television contracts to negotiate… he tried not to look. He had successfully maneuvered through two doctoral programs and had landed his dream job as America’s top motivational speaker on matters of the heart… and it was killing him.
His cell phone started screeching, but he didn’t even have to look to know it was his agent. Grabbing a remote, he flipped on the television and winced as his own image filled the screen. “Ouch,” he thought. “I really do need to drop a few pounds.”
On the television, the morning talk show host sounded much too cheery as she smiled knowingly at Henry. “You’re known across the country as Dr. Love,” she smiled wryly, “and yet you’ve never married. Do you think it might be time to take your own advice?”
Henry moaned. They had pre-recorded the show the day before, and he knew what was coming. “Actually, I find it much easier to remain objective about relationships while I’m not in one,” he flashed his overpriced smile. “That, and I happen to be completely and utterly unlovable.”
Henry cut the television off as the sound of his forced laughter onscreen caused him to choke on his Pop-Tart. He had no idea how pathetic that was going to sound.
The cell phone screeched again, and this time Henry slapped it into silent submission. Grabbing his briefcase, he checked his messages on the way out.
“Henry, this is Julia,” his recent ex-girlfriend sounded heartbroken over the phone. “I just wanted to call and say… well… that I really do love you.”
Two more messages that said pretty much the same thing. Henry deleted every one of them. He had learned long ago that people say whatever they think they should, but he had spent years studying this phenomenon. “Love” was just a chemical reaction in the brain, nothing more.
He flipped on the car radio as he fought his way through rush hour traffic. “If you’re listening to this, then know this today. I love you, and God does, too.” The evangelist’s voice grated on Henry’s nerves, and he quickly switched the radio off.
The traffic came to a standstill, and Henry glanced at his text messages. One from his mother caught his eye. “Sunrise beautiful,” it stated. “God did that b/c He loves us. Didn’t have to.”
Against his better judgment, Henry actually looked at the sky. His mother was right – the dazzling display of pastel yellows, oranges, and warm pinks was absolutely breathtaking. Funny… he had driven this route for years, and had never noticed this.
For a moment, the organized thoughts of Henry’s fine-tuned mind started to slip. “God exists on a plane of existence which is far beyond human needs,” he mused. “He has no pressing reason to reach out to finite creatures with such beauty… to show us something that He knows will stir our hearts. So why does He do it?”
For one breathless moment Henry felt as if his mind was on the verge of a truth that would change everything. But then the traffic started to move again and he pushed the thought from his mind. His mother had really gotten to him this time, but in the end… he simply knew too much.
This week’s Christian Flash Weekly Challenge involved 550-650 words, the Scripture prompt below, and the added challenge of focusing on characterization (showing character through actions, not necessarily with words). Here goes!
“Always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
2 Timothy 3:7