Third-place Mark Twain Essay Contest winner Mark Stewart writes how faith can make a difference in a relationship. – By Mark Stewart

Dillon shook his head repeatedly, entirely amazed by the odd juxtaposition in which he found himself.

The last place he should’ve been was inside a Freightliner contoured against the back of a Naugahyde air-suspension seat for 600 miles a day – hardly the ideal environment to embark on a quest to forget something or someone, particularly when distractions are scarce and the only company is the self. Endless hours can run together like roadside telephone poles, converting the cab into a Petri dish where memories roil and mingle with thoughts of the present and future.

Loneliness rules here with consummate supremacy. Vast and excruciating, it will linger like a migraine and, if allowed, strangle with the measured, muscular stealth of a boa constrictor. It will doggedly percolate into a man’s soul just as water that seeks to find its own level.

These twin concerns consumed his thoughts since the New Year’s Eve quarrel and Denise’s subsequent dismissal of him the day after. It had been a garden-variety argument, one he’d felt certain they could avoid. Yet he intuitively sensed its course and found it futile trying to avert her from sending it toward its predictable conclusion.

The summer before he had reached the milestone age of 50, placing him among the minority in terms of age-related health and fitness levels, both necessary for maintaining the high stamina required of his work as a drug and alcohol counselor, a position in which he’d prospered and gained widespread acclaim for achieving some of the lowest recidivism rates year after year of any counselor in his county.

But 20-plus years of professional achievement had taken their toll, and burnout staged an insidious invasion on his life, carving away at him and resulting in his plunge into the abyss known as a “mid-life transition.”

Becoming increasingly depressed and desperate to prevent a free

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