Wordhaus, the site where this short story was published, was recently shut down. I’m attaching the full story here so everyone who wanted to read it can continue to enjoy it.
“Lost and Found”
She pulls over on the side of the road; the drive bringing everything to the surface.
Cordelia throws the door open the moment lightning strikes; the night sky brightening for a moment as if to expose her emotional state. The light quickly disappears as she falls to her knees in the mud.
So this is what rock bottom feels like. Her demons in full circle, one by one. First was turning away from God when she needed Him most. Then the hate growing towards her best friend, Jessica, having an affair with Joseph, breaking up the already shaky marriage. The heartache over losing her parents followed months later, dying of heart attacks hours apart.
She wanted to scream at the violent sky, taunting her with its brief flashes of hope and rain soaking her to the bone. She met Joseph on a night just like this when she left her umbrella in a diner after going out with friends. The gentleman that he was, he flagged her down and handed it to her.
They went out a few days later. The rest was history until the affair was discovered.
Cordelia curls herself into a ball, tears mixing with the water that should provide healing for her soul. Water made her fears go away for a time. She went to the spa every year on her birthday. Other days she went for a swim. Yet, the water hides her pain until she steps outside, goes to her car and enters her empty house where Joseph’s stuff used to be.
The emptiness left behind reminders of the affair with Jessica. Everything she did for him a waste. Jessica became the antidote he needed for his restaurant failing inspections and numerous fines when he didn’t make the efforts to fix the issues. What did she ever see in him? The umbrella retriever man dreaming of a franchise that gave Cordelia everything she supposedly wanted.
The perfect woman winning all, when others fail.
But here she was, on a stormy Friday night after discovering Joseph and Jessica’s engagement. He finally made an effort with his fines and failed inspections, but only with Jessica’s insistence.
To Joseph, Cordelia held him back from his potential, going so far as to blame her for the affair. His words when the affair came out stung her heart for weeks. She did care and told him to make an effort, take more business classes. She cared enough to be his crying shoulder when he felt he failed as a husband to provide the life and stability she deserved. She could go on and on about her efforts, but what good would that do? She was on her own, or at least, told herself she was.
Lightning followed a clap of thunder. Cordelia wipes her tears with a sigh. “God, what do I do? I’m more lost now than I have ever been my entire life. Nothing makes sense anymore.” Another clap of thunder interrupted her thoughts. “You didn’t warn me this would happen!”
Silence greets her in reply.
“Joseph says I failed him. Well! You failed me! You’ve shaken my confidence with everything in my life!”
She places her head on her knees as a sob escapes her lips. Cordelia didn’t care how soaked she was getting or the lonely house that would greet her.
Nothing could help her now.
Hearing a car pull up behind hers, she looks up in surprise. A rusty, red Ford F-150. The door slowly opens as someone jumps out, his boots making a plop in the ever-growing puddles.
“Are you alright, ma’am?” he asks, taking out a flashlight.
“Y-Yes, I am sir,” Cordelia replies. “My engine’s fine.”
“I wasn’t talking about your car.”
Cordelia freezes in awe, blinded by a light. “I-I appreciate you stopping, sir, but really, I’m fine.”
“You shouldn’t be alone out here. If you want, I could give you a ride home—”
“That’s fine.” She gets up to open her door. “Why did you stop though?”
“Everyone needs a hand sometimes.” He tips his hat to her. “I can follow you home if you need it.”
Cordelia was a loss for words. Can I trust him?
Yes, was the response.
She looks around in confusion, but shakes it off. Then, she faces the man in front of her. “I thank you for stopping. You didn’t have to. I—” she glances down at her feet.
“Would you like to talk over coffee?”
Cordelia’s head snaps up. “You sure? I don’t want to take up your time—”
“Oh no don’t put that idea in your head,” he assures, “I own the coffee place downtown. My wife makes a great brew!”
She smiles. “I like that.”
“Wonderful! You know, on the way here I felt an urge to stop when I saw your car. You look like you could use some friends right now.”
“You have no idea.”
The man chuckles, lowering the flashlight. Cordelia saw he was a much older gentleman with rimmed glasses, a worn Yankees baseball cap and a blue plaid shirt with matching jeans. “Well young lady, let me tell you this. Whatever troubles you are going through right now, the Lord will take care of them.”
“How do you know?”
“Easy: my wife, my shop…” he pauses. “a little faith and hard work.”
“I advised someone to do the same. He didn’t listen and blames me for everything that’s happened to him.”
“Then he has lost his way too. Just needs the right person to give him some perspective. It’s getting dark, we should go. Name’s Philip by the way.”
Cordelia smiles, “Cordelia.” She gets into her car. She follows the man’s truck as he pulls back on the highway. Whoever this man was, Cordelia was thankful.
A step in the right direction. A little step, but still a step towards progress for the journeys forward.
She was on her way back from the brink.