“Try hitting that square thing, Edward.”
“Which square thing? There’s a million square things under here.”
Cars, trucks, and SUVs flashed past while they stood hunched under the raised hood of their car. Edward turned the screwdriver handle-side down and whacked at the silver box his wife pointed to. It wouldn’t help, but it gave him an excuse to vent his frustrations.
He turned and inched his way back to the driver’s door, keeping his body pressed close to the car, away from the thundering traffic. He let out a sigh of relief once he safely got in. He said a prayer and tried the key again. Nothing.
“Now what, Genius?” he questioned the image in his mirror.
The passenger door opened and Margie sat down. She looked at him. Her red hair was wind-blown and sweaty, while her cheeks were red from the sun that relentlessly burned her pale skin.
“Let’s walk, Love,” she finally said.
“Are you sure? It’s hot and you’ve been out there in the sun too long already.”
“Well, I know it isn’t best, but it’s all we can do at this point. Right?”
He shrugged his answer. They trudged for miles, but no one slowed to offer help.
After the sun began to dart behind the pines hugging the roadway, they stopped for a rest. The prickly grass that stubbornly lined the burning pavement poked the bare skin around their ankles as they sat.
“What a day, Edward.”
“But, honestly, can it get much worse?” She squinted up at him with a crooked smile and a wistful expression in her eyes.
He knew the game. Worst-case scenario. They played it often to keep their spirits from sagging. The life they were living was filled with one, huge word: poverty.
“It could’ve been worse,” he started. “We could’ve been in the Sahara when the car quit...”
“…with a wind storm blowing sand up our noses as we …”
“…stumbled blindly, stepping on rattlers and scorpions…”
“…with no hospital or anti-venom serum to be found,” she finished. They smiled at one another. He leaned over and brushed the hair of her bangs away from her eyes.
“There’s a miracle growing in me, Edward,” she spoke softly.
He smiled again, but said nothing. He looked away from her questioning eyes and focused his gaze into the pine forest. He heard a small sigh escape her lips and then she jumped up.
“I’m rested. Let’s go!”
He stood, brushing the debris from his jeans, and pulled her into a hug before he set the
pace on the road again.
Night stars came out from hiding. The moon sat on the edge of the treetops and watched them walk. The traffic had long ago wound its way over the horizon, the red taillights streaming away.
Their shoes slapped the road in rhythm, but they didn’t speak. He knew she was hurt. Since the morning, when she’d showed him that stick with the neon blue line, she’d glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, trying to gauge his thoughts.
He was being selfish, but inside of him, a war was raging. A baby was not what they needed. Not what they could afford. Not what would help their already desperate situation. What would he do? He was not ready. Not ready. Not ready. His doubts kept pace with his footsteps.
They reached their apartment late in the night. She went in to start her bath while he ran water into a glass and drank. He turned on the tiny TV in the living room and sat down on the edge of the couch. An old movie flickered its gray light onto the dark walls. It was a Christmas rerun. That figured!
The film sputtered through the nativity scene. As he gazed at the television, the Spirit in him welled up, and began to work in his heart. Softening. Comforting. A tear trickled down his rough cheek then splashed onto his hand.
A close-up of Mary appeared on the screen. The camera panned to Joseph. Baby Jesus.
“They were not ready,” whispered the Spirit, “but they trusted Him anyway.”
Margie came out from her bath, kissed his cheek, and snuggled close. He returned her kiss and wrapped his arms around her. He smiled into her eyes. He could trust. He would trust. Everything would be all right.
Worry dropped away for the first time. Peace emerged; happiness beckoned, and a Christmas miracle grew.
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