Worry – Speakeasy #162 (Fiction)


“Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy, unblinking eyes.” Alena dabbed her nose with a wadded tissue.

“You survived a traumatic event. It’s natural to fixate on a specific detail,” the therapist said.

She avoided looking into his eyes. Instead, she forced her gaze to remain within the black frame around his degree. She stared at the cursive letters of his name, Thomas L. Roberts, until they blurred into an undecipherable black smear.

“Would it help to talk about the accident?”

“Accident?” For a moment Alena looked into his eyes. “Oh.” She glanced at her hands folded in her lap, ignoring the large wheels just beyond the vinyl-covered armrests. “I guess.”

He nodded his approval as he fiddled with an apple cinnamon candle he’d lit before their session.

She returned her focus to the framed degree above his head. “I could’ve driven that road blindfolded, navigating by muscle memory. But I’d never traveled after dusk before. When I rounded a curve and saw the elk, eyes reflecting the headlight beam, I knew I didn’t have time to stop, so I swerved. Other than the slight turn of his head, made apparent by the shift of his antlers, he didn’t move. I remember bumping the guardrail at least twice and then sliding off the road where the guardrail ended. The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital bed and a doctor telling me he couldn’t save my legs.”

“How did you react to that?”

“Are you serious?” Alena again looked at Mr. Roberts. “I was pissed. I called him horrible names. I accused him of being a liar, until I looked at the bed and saw the lump under the covers ended around what should’ve been my mid-thigh. I resented the doctor for saving me.” She caught sight of a painting to her left and turned her head to get a better look.

Mr. Roberts followed her gaze. “That’s Oswalt Krel. Said to be an ancestor of mine.”

She furrowed her brow as she studied the painting.

“It’s a replica, of course. Dürer’s work is rarely seen in private hands.”

“His eyes,” She murmured. “They hint of worry or fear, too much for a single man to bear. I know those eyes.”

Mr. Roberts waited for her to continue, but after several minutes, he asked, “Where have you seen those eyes?”

Attention still focused on the painting, she said, “My dad. He didn’t share burdens with us. He had many health issues we never knew about until after-the-fact. Whenever we’d ask him why he didn’t tell us, he’d just say, ‘I didn’t want you to worry.’ As if that explained everything.” She dabbed her face with the tissue again. “I see worry differently. I need it to feel alive. It’s like worry reminds me that I shouldn’t take this day for granted because it could be my last. If I am blessed with more time, I don’t see the worry as being in vain… it’s more like insurance.”

“Have you explained that to your dad?”

“Yeah. Soon after, he told us about a tumor that needed to be biopsied. He admitted his fears. For the first time, my brother, two sisters and I shared the burden of worry with him.” She clenched her eyes shut and took a deep breath. “But all of our worries together couldn’t save him. He died before the biopsy could be completed.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

Tears streaked down her cheeks. When Mr. Roberts offered a box of tissues, Alena plucked several from the opening. “I had my accident the night he died. I should’ve worried about myself, I guess. Since then, I always see Dad’s eyes in the moments after cancer won and his soul returned to God.” She blew her nose into the mass of tissues. “I saw them in the elk. I see them in that painting. Those eyes will forever be the line between what I was and what I am now.”


This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly writing prompt.  The challenge is to write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 667) (1) using “Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy, unblinking eyes.” as the first line; AND (2) include some reference to the media prompt: a painting by Albrecht Dürer,

Well, I’ve written ‘weird’ for the last two weeks, so this time, I decided to go for emotional.  (You know, just in case you think you know what to expect, I have to keep changing it up 🙂 )  This story is somewhat inspired by a conversation I had with my best friend on Saturday.  Her dad may have cancer again and isn’t a candidate for operation because of age and other health issues.  My prayers (and thoughts, obviously) are with her.

The challenge is open to anyone, so if you’re curious, click the badge below for complete guidelines!


At Sea

Being on a ship during a storm at sea can be a scary place.  Wind whips the waves into a frenzy and the vessel rides each wave before settling into the water again.  This repeats in an endless loop, the wood creaking with every rise and fall of the ship.  I wonder which will break first – the sun through the clouds or the ship.

This week, life has been a storm for me.  Resolution to one uncertainty opened up a myriad of other questions.  Each time a new threat appeared, I worried, I prayed, then worried some more.  My worry reminded me that my trust in God could be stronger.  Though not everything is tied up in a pretty little bow, I am satisfied that I will not sink.

I’m not the only one who lets fear rule at times.  The disciples felt certain they would drown in a storm- even with Jesus on the boat.  Fear is such a part of our human nature that, although Jesus himself was right there with them, they still had doubts as to whether they would survive.  Jesus calmed the storm and said, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)

I’ve had this passage in my mind this week.  I know troubles are a part of this life, and I know God hasn’t left me to go it alone.   I just need to release my white-knuckled grip on my idea of the future and allow faith to overcome fear.

Calmer waters.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

Weathering Storms

Dust painting the sky brown

Saturday afternoon a dust storm blew over the city.  Grit and debris, as well as a small amount of rain, carried through the air, reducing visibility.  Mesquite trees submitted to the winds- their trunks gave enough so that they bent but didn’t snap.  Sure, with high enough winds, sustained for a long enough period of time, they would eventually give in and break.

I’m going through my own storms right now.  Uncertainty creates stress, which is the wind that threatens to break me.  But I have added strength from an outside source:  God.  My weakness lies in the fact that I rely too much on myself.  I’ll figure out a way…I can make this work…I can change this.  I often don’t call on God’s strength until worry has already settled in the bottom of my stomach.

I don’t’ know what’s going to happen.  I know what outcome is easiest, but I have no clue what result is best.  (I’ve seen enough blessings in disguise to know not to pray for the easiest outcome.)  And here’s the big one:  no amount of worry will change what is.

Like the dust storm last night, trials are only temporary.  I ask for strength to weather the storm, no matter how long or how fierce it may be.

Even in dark clouds, there is light

Some scriptures that encouraged me this week:

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:2)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.  (Psalm 55:22)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Even When The Answer Is “No”

In my January 22nd post, I wrote about my fear and worry associated with our dog, Josie’s health.  I appreciate all the prayers, well-wishes, good thoughts and candle-lighting that you did in response to that post.  Your kindness helped me through a tough time.  It has been several weeks now, and I’m happy (relieved) to report no more full-fledged seizures.  Of course, she does still have twitches and balance issues that make my heart skip a beat, but nothing like the middle-of-the-night horror I witnessed before my husband rushed her to the animal hospital in January.

Sometimes God responds to prayers with a “no” (like a parent does when a child wants a candy bar for dinner).  The child may not like the answer, but the parent knows more about nutrition.

This time, God gave me the answer I wanted to hear – “it’s not Josie’s time to go.”  I know very well that this answer could change at any time.  Hey, it could change for me, or anyone I love.  Remembering this helps me to step back and be thankful for the blessings I do have – even when they don’t feel like blessings in the moment.

When my kids are testing their boundaries (and my patience), it’s easy to forget that God’s plan is probably not to drive me insane by my 40th birthday.  Maybe it is…I don’t know.  If so, God will be pleased to know that as of last night, His plan is on track.

When I come home to yet another dog accident in our bathroom, and wish for a spotless house, I forget that each of our pets touches my soul in ways that make me a better person.  I have to remind myself that if God intended me to have floors clean enough to eat off of, tables and plates would not have been invented.

Like the constant, powerful movement of water sculpts rock formations, events in my life work in repetitive motions to mold me into what He planned for me since the day I took my first breath.  It is amazing to me that water – a substance we drink everyday – can so drastically change a rock’s appearance.  A rock seems so solid and unmovable.  Kind of like me, at times.

I’d like to think that my faith makes me pliable in Your hands, but I’d be kidding myself.  There are times when even I can recognize my rigidity.  Time and again, You have shown that when I trust You, I am not let down, and I am not alone.  Yet I still have a tendency to hold my fears and worries close to my chest, even as I pray that I might have the strength to let them go.  This push and pull leaves me nothing but a knot in my stomach.

I go to sleep with a heavy heart and this prayer on my lips;

That you will give me the strength to tip the balance –

To trust that even if my worries are just and fears are realized,

You will not leave me cold and hungry, but will continue to provide.


Fear Should Not Be A Factor

Fear is an unwelcome guest who drops by unannounced and brings two mischievous cousins – Worry and Doubt.  I bolt the door and pretend I’m not home, but fear doesn’t care.  It kicks the door open and drops its overstuffed 6-piece luggage set in my entryway, switches the TV to ESPN (oh, wait…that was hubby :)), eats all my brownies and has the nerve to leave the crumbs between my couch cushions.

I put on my ‘nice’ face (i.e., not the one I wear when the kids use my best kitchen scissors to try to cut rocks in the back yard) and sweetly ask Fear how long it plans to stay.  Fear laughs at me and cranes its neck to see the TV screen behind me.  Doubt and Worry get inside my head and mess with my senses.  I begin to wonder if I can extricate the trio from my life.

Fear comes in different forms.

There is the fear punishment and infliction of mental anguish:

The IRS and I are pen pals. There's another post in this mess somewhere!

There is fear involving life and death – our mortality or that of someone we love.

Whole lotta sweet, in a little bit o' dog

Some of you might remember how Josie came into our lives in November.  If not, click here for the story.

Last week, Josie started having seizures again.  The mild seizure activity from the evening culminated in my hubby rushing her to an all-night animal hospital at 2AM after a horrifying seizure.  She was stabilized and so far, her blood work is normal.  The only test result missing is Valley Fever, but the vet is skeptical this is the cause of her issues.

Little Josie is on Phenobarbital now.  At least the Pharmacist has a sense of humor….they sent home a bottle of small pills with instructions to cut them into fourths.  I crushed the first pill I tried to cut, and no amount of angry muttering could put it back together again.  My husband got one clean cut before botching the second cut and nearly cutting his fingertip.

For two days, I have been watching Josie.  Every facial twitch, muscle spasm and collapse of her legs sends my heart into my stomach and riles Fear (and the annoying cousins.)  I fear each errant movement will turn out to be another “big one”.  I doubt my ability to calmly get through the experience, and I worry I won’t know when God says it’s time to let go.

We’ve been told it can take several weeks for the medication to get in her bloodstream.  We’ve also been advised that the wobbliness is normal.  For me, neither statement offers much comfort.  I’ve had to look elsewhere for that.

John 14:27:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I open the door of my heart for Peace to make itself at home.  With Peace, there is no room for Fear, Worry or Doubt.