Change is difficult, but sometimes you have no other choice, but to give in gracefully.
Finish this story: "The old man was half-submerged in sand. His slat-and-pepper hair was drenched with sweat. He pushed the spearhead of his shovel deep into the cold, wet sand and tossed another heap up and out. He was digging to China."
Digging to China
The old man was half-submerged in sand. His salt-and-pepper hair was drenched with sweat. He pushed the spearhead of his shovel deep into the cold, wet sand and tossed another heap up and out. He was digging to China.
His wife walked out into the backyard. “Harry,” she called.
The old man did not stop. His shovel continued to lift and dump, pile and mound.
“Harry! What are you doing?”
“Can’t stop now,” the old man muttered from down underneath his chin-high tunnel of sand.
“Harry, I insist. You stop that digging right this minute!”
The old man did not stop. He shoveled faster. Sand flew in sandstorm proportions. His wife threw her arm protectively over her elaborately styled hair and backed away.
“Oh, Harry!” she cried out, stamping her foot gracefully.
The digging continued. Sand piled higher.
“Harry!” she cried, even louder. Her voice, although as light and airy as a singing canary, had taken on a bit of panic as the sand climbed tower-like about the hole.
Once more, a small, delicate, yellow slipper collided with the ground in irritation, and Bertha let out an almost non-dainty sigh of exasperation. “Oh, Harry!” she wept. “I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said.” She pressed a delicate kerchief scented in violet perfume against her nose and sniffled charmingly.
But sand continued to fly through the air, helter-skelter. Bertha watched as the shiny peak of Harry’s skull disappeared. She stilled a moment as if breathing in the sweet fragrance of her kerchief, or as if pondering the situation. “Oh, Harry,” she said again, and then she sighed with such sadness the lilies in the brick planter drooped.
But the mounds of sand continued to grow taller and taller.
“It’s my kitchen,” Bertha murmured forlornly into the faint breeze of the late morning’s coolness. “Why should you suddenly decide that you want to become a cook? It’s my kitchen!”
A loud sneeze caused a corner of one of the sand mounds to capsize. Like a bouldered anthill, it collapsed inwardly. The resulting fit of coughing from down in the hole, brought Bertha closer.
Harry’s bald spot could no longer be seen. He was bent over like a sagging candle, struggling for air.
Bertha’s tears were suddenly running down her face in reckless abandon. Daintily, she wiped under her eyes and dabbed at her splashed cheeks.
"Oh, Harry. I shouldn’t have said what I said," Bertha sobbed. "It was wrong of me to be so cruel. But how can I let you take over my kitchen? How can I hand over my dishes and my spices... and my aprons? How can I...?"
But Bertha knew that this had gone too far!
“Harry,” she called out in sudden panic.
Another mound cascaded, sending her husband into spasms of coughing.
“Harry! Are you all right? Speak to me, my love... Speak to me,” Bertha called out.
But Harry wasn’t speaking to anyone. He was coughing too hard, and the sand was caving in all around him.
Bertha threw down her sweet-smelling kerchief. She ran to the side of the hole, threw herself down in the damp sand, and grabbed hold of her husband.
“Harry,” she called out. “Harry, my love. I will never order you out of my kitchen again! I love you, Harry. Please don’t go to China! Please, Harry!”
Bertha paused her words briefly so she could heave-ho. With her hands clenching Harry's shoulders, with one heavy, deliberate jerk, she lifted her husband out of the hole.
Unfortunately, Harry didn’t appear to be breathing! Bertha threw herself down on top of him and immediately began to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Harry's eyes opened the moment her lips did. His arms brought her even closer.
It was several minutes later that Harry and Bertha sat up, but on each of their faces was a radiant smile. Bertha’s was rather bashful, and she was blushing like a young maiden. Harry chuckled and stroked his wife’s long hair which had fallen down from its normally refined coif. Then his smile broadened and he said, “You don’t want me to go to China after all?”
“Oh, Harry,” Bertha sighed and fluttered her eyelashes.
Once more Harry chuckled. Then his smile grew stern. “And the kitchen?”
Bertha dropped her eyes and stared down at a blade of grass lying on the skirt of her dress. She brushed it off and smoothed out the fabric of her polka-dotted Swiss yellow frock.
“Oh, my,” she said. “I do hope I haven't stained my dress, and my hair –- it must be a mess...”
Harry raised up her chin and lovingly dabbed another kiss on her sweet, rosy-pink lips. “You look beautiful as always, Bertha,” he told her with a tender smile. “But the kitchen...?”
Bertha sighed and then sighed again. “All right, Harry. But...may I still cook sometimes, too?”
Harry rose up and swept Bertha into his arms. “We shall cook together, my love,” he said, and with a contented laugh, he carried Bertha off to the kitchen, where the two of them prepared a most delectable lunch of vegetarian lasagna and apple-spice cake.