Authors: Janice Thompson
“I doubt it.” Kent
shook his head as he reached for his wallet.
The two chatted as
they paid for the repairs and then headed out to their vehicles together. To
his left, the sun began to set, nearly blinding Kent with its glare.
At least he thought
that dazzle came from the sun. Right now, he couldn’t really be sure.
Shauna leaned back against her chair and surveyed the messy
dining room table. “Everything was so good, Mom.”
“Thank you.” Her mother flashed a broad smile.
“I sure missed your cooking when I was in school,” Shauna
added. In fact, she couldn’t remember when she’d had a better meal. No one
could make chicken cacciatore like her mom, and Shauna had done without it far
“Glad you enjoyed it.
And I’m happy to have you here to cook for. After you moved up to College
Station, I practically stopped cooking altogether. Your father and I ate out
more than ever.”
“Really? I didn’t know
that.” She looked at her father intently for his response. Surely he would have
“Spent a fortune at
that new diner on the interstate,” her dad said. “And their food sure didn’t
taste like your mom’s.” He made a face.
“I’ll bet.” Shauna
couldn’t imagine how her father could have possibly adapted to restaurant food
after years of eating like a king. She certainly understood the adjustment
after shifting to college-cafeteria foods.
“Didn’t make a whole lot of sense to cook big meals just for
the two of us.” Her mother shrugged then reached to pick up Shauna’s plate.
“But now that you’re back, I’ll be cooking more. And who
. .maybe one of these days I’ll have a houseful of grandbabies to cook for.
Then I’ll start fixing meals you can all be proud of again.” She winked for
Shauna groaned. “Oh, Mom.”
“In the meantime,” Shauna’s father pushed his chair away
from the table, “I’ll probably take off another ten or twenty pounds. But don’t
worry about me. I’ll be just fine.” He rubbed his protruding belly, and Shauna
“Wouldn’t hurt you to take off a few pounds,” her mother
said as she picked up his plate and added it to the stack.
Shauna snapped to
attention as she realized her mother planned to do the dishes alone. “Oh, don’t
mess with that,” she said. “Why don’t you and Dad go watch some TV and let me
get the dishes for a change?”
She felt a slight
embarrassment at being waited on. Something about it made her feel like a child
again. Returning home after college had its perks, to be sure, but she didn’t
want to take advantage of her parents in any way.
Her mom’s eyebrows
elevated slightly. “Are you sure?”
“Of course.” Shauna
stood and began to clear the table. “You’ve both been so great to let me come
back home. The least I can do is carry my own load. I don’t want to be a
burden, trust me.”
“You could never be a
burden.” Her father stood from his place at the head of the table. “Never have
been and never will be.”
Shauna turned to face
her parents head-on. “I just want you to know,” she said, “that when my
paychecks start rolling in, I plan to help out financially around here. It’s
the least I can do.”
“Well now, I don’t
. .” her father looked a little
uneasy with the idea.
Shauna crossed her
arms as her thoughts flowed freely. “You guys paid all of my college expenses.
That’s more than a lot of parents would do. You put a roof over my head for
years—before and after college. And you’ve helped me find a job.”
“That’s what parents
are for,” he argued.
“I know,” she said,
“but you know what the Bible
. . ‘To whom much
is given, much is required.’ I’ve been given so much over the years, and I just
want you to know how grateful I am—and how hard I’m going to work to
“No big rush, honey.”
Her father kissed her on the forehead. “We missed you while you were away, and
we love having you home again.”
“I know.” She couldn’t help but smile. “I love being here,
too. But I really don’t plan to stay forever, I promise. One of these days I’m
going to have a family of my own.”
it won’t be too long.
Her father pressed her
into a warm embrace. “Don’t be in any hurry, sweetheart. Just take your time
until you’re sure you’ve found someone who’s worthy of you.”
“Sounds like a typical
dad comment.” Shauna couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Just doing my job.”
He gave her another hug then headed into the living room to read the newspaper.
Shauna whispered the
next words, keeping her thoughts to herself, just in case. “I might have
someone in mind, already.” She glanced at her cell phone, which sat perched and
ready on the kitchen counter. All evening long she had awaited a call from Joey.
Would it ever come?
She thought about him
as she cleared the table. She dreamed of him as she loaded the dishwasher.
Their last few months together in College Station had pretty much sealed their
relationship, at least according to her way of thinking. Sure, he was busy with
his graduate classes, but
. .soon he would come
for a visit, and her parents would see just how awesome he was.
She already knew, of
course. He was pretty much everything she had always hoped for, right down to
the amazing work ethic. His love for the Lord was evident, and he came from a
great family. Though he hadn’t expressed much interest in children, she felt
sure he would come around. Most guys did, right?
As she worked, Shauna
tried to imagine what her life would be like once she and Joey married. Would
she stand at a sink like this, rinsing dishes? Would he stand beside her with a
dishtowel in hand, ready to help? Would they sit together in the living room
afterwards, watching movies and talking about the day’s events? Would they
bathe their children then tuck them into bed each night? Shauna wrapped herself
deep in thought as she considered the possibilities.
After finishing up the
dishes, she set up her computer on the tiny desk in the bedroom she’d loved
since childhood. Never one for technical things, she struggled to figure out
which cord went with which machine. Finally, convinced she had the thing put
together correctly, she sat in the chair and pushed the button, ready to get
down to business.
As the machine booted up, Shauna fought the nagging feeling
that something felt wrong. She couldn’t quite put her finger on what it might
be. Something just seemed amiss. Sooner or later it would reveal itself.
The computer went
through an unusually slow process of getting to the main screen and even
bypassed her password process. “That’s odd.” She tapped at the keyboard,
growing anxious. After some time, the monitor lit up, though the colors on the
screen threw her a bit.
“What in the world? Where is my wallpaper?” Instead of the
usual blue sky and white fluffy clouds, an artistic rendition of the Last
Supper covered the screen. “Is someone trying to tell me something?” Not that
she minded, but those guys at the computer shop should at least ask before changing
her configurations. She scrambled to find the familiar icon for her word
processor. For some reason, it had been moved. In fact, nothing seemed to be in
the right place.
“Looks like they added more than just a twelve-dollar part.
They revamped the whole machine.” Finally, after extensive searching, she found
the necessary word-processing program. “It’s about time,” she mumbled. Looking
at the blank screen, she began to type:
Dear Joey, I
have great news! I’ve got a new job at a day-care center. After searching for
days, I finally stumbled across one that’s not too far from my parents’ home.
That’s a good thing, considering the fact that gas prices are so high. At least
this way I’ll keep my costs down. And here’s a plus—it’s a Christian day
care. I’m so excited about that part because I can share my faith with the kids
and the other workers.
The lady who
runs the place is named Mrs. Fritz.
Funny name, right?
She’s a little quirky, but, then again, so am I. She’s from the “Old School,”
if you know what I mean. I hope that won’t be a problem. At any rate, she seems
to like me, and I’m pretty sure I can do a good job. I know I don’t have much
teaching time under my belt, but I’m sure the things I learned in college will
prove to be valuable.
college, how are your classes? I’m so proud of you for going on with your
schooling. I don’t know if I’ve said that enough, but I am. Just think, this
time next year you’ll have your master’s. Wow!
I know you’re swamped, but I’m still hoping you
can come down for a couple of days next month. My parents are dying to meet
you. They talk about you all the time. Well, I talk about you all of the time,
Do you miss me? I think about you almost every
day. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten a letter from you yet. Did you get the one
I sent last week? I’ve sent a couple of E-mails, too. I know you don’t like the
computer, so I guess we’ll just have to stay connected the old-fashioned way.
I guess that’s
all for now. I’m going to go to bed tonight thinking of you. Are you thinking
Love and kisses, Shauna.
She saved the document, and then reached up to print the
letter. Leaning back, she let herself begin to think about Joey. He was two
years older and working on his master’s degree in psychology. His dark brown
eyes were usually serious, but she didn’t mind that. He was pretty nearly
perfect in every other way. They shared similar values and aspirations. Their
relationship had been as much academic as romantic, but she hadn’t really
Shauna looked at the
printer suddenly, realizing the document hadn’t begun to print. “What in the
world is taking so long?” She immediately checked the printer folder on the PC,
but was unable to find the appropriate driver listed. “What do those crazy people
think they’re doing?” Her frustration continued to mount.
Why in the world had she paid them before checking their
Kent turned on the computer, anxious to get busy on his
sermon notes. It would take weeks—maybe months—to feel at ease in
front of the congregation. The past several Sundays he had faced them with fear
and trembling, anxious to hear from God and then share the appropriate message,
but terrified he might not be able to speak a single sentence.
The computer seemed to boot up considerably faster than
usual. “Wow. Looks like I really got my money’s worth.” The front screen
appeared—a soft blue sky with white billowy clouds. “What’s this?”
Someone had messed with his wallpaper.
Well, no big deal; probably just some young technician with
too much time on his hands. Kent opened the word-processing program and looked
around for the familiar folder titled
“Come on now.”
Agitation set in. Tampering with something that valuable was no joking matter.
Kent began a frantic search of the computer’s programs, looking for his notes.
They weren’t here. But lots of other things were. File after file of
unidentifiable stuff. Love letters, college papers, personal notes, and
“Ah-ha!” Letterhead. “Shauna J. Alexander.”
As Shauna stood out on the back deck of her parents’ home,
she sipped a cup of hot coffee and spent a few minutes in prayer. The morning
sun beamed high in the sky, causing a bit of a glare. Pinks and purples from the
morning’s sunrise had long since been replaced with a bright blue cloudless
expanse. Shauna reveled in it a moment longer before picking up the portable
phone to make the necessary call. She punched in the now-familiar number,
prepared to do battle.
Unlimited.” The voice on the other end sounded cheery. A rehearsed cheery.
Undeterred by the
fellow’s jovial attitude, she forged ahead. “This is Shauna Alexander,” she
“Oh, Ms. Alexander,”
the friendly voice interrupted. “Say no more. We just heard from Mr. Chapman.
He’s got your computer.”
She let out a sigh of
happy to know she wouldn’t have to come out
swinging. “I was hoping you’d say that.”
“We’re so sorry about
the mix-up.” Genuine empathy filled his voice. “The technician apparently
confused the tags on the two machines. An unusual mistake, at least for us. In
fact, I can’t recall when it’s ever happened before.”
“He’s terribly sorry,” the man continued.
any rate, Mr. Chapman’s coming at ten thirty to drop off your PC.
chance you could come at the same time? Save him another trip?”
“Ten thirty?” Shauna
glanced down at her watch. It was already nine forty-five. For a moment, she
thought about saying no, but then remembered Kent Chapman’s deep green eyes.
She didn’t want to be the source of agitation to those kind eyes. “I’ll be
there.” Shauna groaned as she hung up the phone. With a bit of frustration over
losing yet another day to this problem, she headed back into the house to pack
up the computer.