Don’t mess with Lent by Godfrey Wray

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Godfrey Wray

Even before he opened his eyes, Jones felt the hurt.His head was splitting. It seemed to weigh a ton.
What had caused this sudden painful sensation?
He remembered he’d finally gone to sleep just after midnight, and then came… the dream.
It was so vivid.
He often had dreams but they simply made no sense when he awoke.
Not this one, however.
He struggled to sit upright and look around the room. His only chair was overturned. The lamp shade was on the ground while his wardrobe lay open and disturbed.
He couldn’t understand what had happened. He was sure everything was normal when he’d climbed into bed. Maybe he had underestimated the potency of the drinks he’d consumed earlier.
He wanted to rush out the room to see what other mayhem might be awaiting. But he held back because he’d spent his life as a logician; not believing in spirits, ghosts or the translation of dreams. A little voice inside his head was urging him to be cool and try to remember everything about the night before.
The door to his bathroom opened with a single announcement: “Hey, it’s time for me to go.” The tone made him wince and close his eyes.
There was not a scintilla of warmth or emotion in the hissed expression.
This was no dream. This was “for real.”
There stood the not-so-young woman he had met the night before, face impassive and unreadable. Her eyes had locked onto his and seemed to penetrate right through to his soul. For all his inner strength he couldn’t tear his gaze away or move a muscle. He was frozen; riveted in uncertainty.
She advanced further into the room and stood with hands akimbo. The pause that followed was significant, though she didn’t seem to be waiting for an answer. She appeared to be gathering force to launch into the main thrust of a torrid monologue
So it was.
“All those promises you made last night at the bar, I knew you were a big bluff. And that talk about observing Lent as a season of penance, reflection and fasting. Ha! Ha! You’re a bigger sinner than me. See how many Guinness bottles at the side of the bed and you justifying the brew as more of a tonic than alcohol.”
Memory came flowing back to Jones
He was desperate to say something in his defense, but try as he might no words came. In desperation he made a grab for the woman’s arm but she recoiled and lashed out with the back of her right hand, catching him across a cheek. She cast one last scornful look in his direction before moving towards the door and saying: “I’m gone. I took what you promised me.”
The stinging blow must have loosened Jones’ tongue. With that statement and the slamming of the door that followed, Jones found enough alacrity to hop off the bed, head throbbing with pain.
His left leg immediately let him down and he collapsed onto the floor. The sensation (or lack) rooted him to a small area on the carpet, hands vigorously massaging the lifeless left limb. He stayed there for more than half-an-hour and gradually the blood flow increased.
During the time he was on the floor Jones had more than ample time to
understand the depths of his own duplicity.
That day he had gone to his church to get his Ashes and there he had made his silent vow not to drink any type of alcohol during the 46-day period of abstinence. Yet before a day had passed he had succumbed to the spirits and the flesh.
My grandmother always cautioned us not to make promises that we couldn’t keep.
Jones thinks he is ‘back to normal’ but the little brush with the dreaded stroke has been an eye-opener.