On the 9th day of Christmas: the conclusion of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Previous paragraphs can be found in “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy & Miracles.”)
“Yeah, go figure. For years we hardly talk and when we do, it’s on the phone and only about sports or work.” He pauses; bites his lower lip. “I didn’t see this day coming.” His voice quivers with emotion; he looks away. “It was as if Dad knew last night was his last.”
Dizzy, Wendell heads for the chair near the window. “I need to sit…just for a minute.” He plops down and runs fingers through his thinning hair.
“Do I need to get one of the nurses,” Cliff asks.
Wendell fans himself with the envelope. “I’m fine. So much has happened…so much I’m having a hard time explaining.”
“I know.” Cliff puts his palm over the pocket holding the letter. “It’s as if Dad wanted to set things right. But how did he know he was out of time?”
“Luck or coincidence, I guess.”
“Or a miracle.”
Wendell stares at the envelope, unable to wrap logic around the day’s events.
Cliff steps to the threshold and halts. He keeps his back to Wendell. “You must think I’m a pretty lousy son.” Voice cracks. “Never coming to visit…”
Cliff wags his head as self-contempt delivers jaw-shattering blows.
“Don’t blame yourself,” Wendell counsels while fingering the envelope. “It’s not what Ira would have wanted. Didn’t his letter say as much? Besides, it takes two to tango.”
Cliff wipes his eyes. Then, without looking back, says: “It was nice to finally meet you, Mr. Bennett. He spoke very highly of you.”
“As he did you, Cliff.”
Wendell runs a finger around the edge of the envelope. Time is a blur and he is oblivious to the woman standing in the doorway.
“Is everything all right,” Ruth asks. “Cliff told me you got dizzy.”
“I’m fine,” he sighs as he pushes up from the chair. “Just a lot to process in one morning.”
She spies the envelope. “What’s that?”
“Something from Ira.”
“Aren’t you going to open it?”
“Later.” He tucks it in his shirt pocket. “Besides, I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about.”
Her brow furrows and she tilts her head to study him.
Wendell stares at the empty wheelchair.
“Ruth, do you believe in miracles?”
Her head rights and she perks up. “Yes. Do you?”
He takes in her sapphire eyes. “So tell me again: what time is the Christmas service?”
She smiles, stands on her toes, and kisses his cheek.