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TITLE: Home repair
By Monica Uwajeh
08/20/08
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I have two main concerns. Is the story engaging? And can one see threads of the gospel in it? Also let me know if my main character's too feminized. I haven't been around too many men, so I may have this tendency.
Home Repair
My name is Mike Davidson. I'm a contractor from Norway Maine. I can fix anything, except my marriage. My wife Nikki, an interior decorator, is currently living in Portland with another man. And this isn't the first time she's cheated on me. This is the first time she's moved out. I've considered divorce before, but now it's not an option for me. The more I read God's Word the more in He tells me I need to hang in there. After all, He never gives up on me. It is 8 p.m. Normally, I am just taking a shower after work. Tonight for some reason, I'm on my knees praying for Nikki.

The phone rings. I scramble to my feet in surprise.

"My name is officer Bloomberg. I'm looking for Nikki Brown."

"This is her husband. Officer, what's wrong? I find myself saying before I can even think.

"Is your wife there?"

"No."

My voice is shaky.

"Well, I should probably just tell you," said the officer. " After all, this affects you too. Your sister-in-law Kate Ashton died in a car accident."

I hold the phone to my ear for several minutes. Then I hang up.

I realize I don't have a number for Nikki. But I do know her lover's name. And I have a Portland phone book. I scan the page or the number. My fingers are shaking so I make several unsuccessful attempts to dial. Then I ask God to help me with Nikki. I finally get it right.

"Hello," I say, my voice is shaking again. "May I speak with my wife?"

I hear him shout Nikki's name.

"Hello, Mike, what is it?" She says. "Simon told me you sounded strange."

"Nikki, your sister Kate died tonight."

"Mike, will you pray for me? I have to tell Ash and go get her."

"I don't know Ash as well as you do. But I don't think she'll move in with you and your boyfriend."

"You're right, I'll have to move into Kate's house," Nikki declares. "But she'll have to understand I'm going to keep seeing Simon."

"I'm sure she won't try to stop you," I say in a monotone voice.

"I'll give her your love and condolences."

"Nikki, I'm sorry. And I will pray for you. I am praying for you."

"I know," she half whispers.

"God loves you, Nikki. And so do I.

She is silent.

I hang up. And drop to my knees again. Thoughts press against my head until it feels like I have a sinus headache.

"God told His people He loved them in Hosea when they fell in love with other gods," I say pushing back the guilt Satan is trying to heap on me. "Lord, you love Nikki more than I do. I don't know what you're doing except trying to bring her back to You comfort her and Ashley as they mourn Kate's death. I praise You for giving Nikki the grace to love Ash enough to move out of Simon’s house… in Jesus name."
The next morning, the phone rang again. It was my niece.

"Ash, I'm so sorry about your mom," I say.

"Will you be at the funeral, Uncle Mike?" She asks.

"I don't know if your aunt wants me there."

"I want you there. I need you there. And by the way, she asked Simon not to come.”

"See how much she loves you? She knows you wouldn't want him there.

"And she knows how much I need you there. And I think deep down she knows she needs you there too."

"Honey, that's not the point. I'll be there for you. And for your aunt as much as she'll let me be."

"I've been praying you two would get back together every day, "she says. Maybe this is God's way of answering my prayers."

"You could be right, Ash." I say. But don't worry about my marriage to your aunt."

"The thought of God bringing you back two together is the only thing keeping me sane right now."

"I'm not saying you're wrong, Ash. In fact, I hope you're right."
At the funeral, I go up to Ash, and she gives me a hug and holds on like she's afraid I'll disappear.

"I'll be here for you as long as the Lord allows," I say setting her on the shoulder.

Nikki comes up behind her and says, "No matter what happens between your uncle and I, he can come visit you anytime he wants."

She must think my heart's made of cedar because she put a nail right through it. She's seriously considering divorcing me.

Ash releases her grip. Her eyes narrow. She stares at me. I give a half smile. She looks around the headrest of her wheelchair and stares at her aunt. Her eyes now have a slight glare.

I tap her on the shoulder and whisper, "Just keep praying. Just keep praying."

"Okay", she says in a voice that seems mixed with resolve and resignation.



Three weeks later, my phone rings.

Before I can even say hello, Ash says in a voice of childhood exuberance, "Simon broke up with Aunt Nikki."

"I thought they were going to keep seeing each other," I say after smashing the phone to my ear to make sure I heard her right.

"She hasn't gone to Portland since she moved here except to clean out her office. And Simon won't come up here because of the price of gas. Amazing, the fact that she's married is nothing to him. But let gas be four dollars a gallon. And she's no longer worth it. What did she ever see in him?"

"Excitement. Let's face it. A guy with his own sailboat seems pretty cool."

"Aunt Nikki said he wanted to take me for a ride with them sometime. She tried to tell him I wouldn't want to go. But he kept pushing. So she brought it up. It would've been cool to go on a sailboat. But I just wouldn't do anything to condone that relationship."

"I figured you wouldn't. But Ash, this doesn't necessarily mean your aunt Nikki’s gonna come back."

"How about a little faith, Uncle Mike?" She says.

"Ash, you know what I mean," I respond. "I love you. And I just want you to recognize she might not be ready. Simon wasn't the reason she left."

"We've been praying and reading the Bible since she moved in. In fact, she was meditating on Ruth chapter 2 when she decided to vacate the office and look for a job up here."

"I'm starting a new job tomorrow. And I need a painter if she's interested. Is she home?

"She's in the living room. Let me get her."

I hear Ash yell for her aunt.

"Listen, I need someone to paint a little girl's bedroom starting tomorrow. Would you be interested?"

"I don't know why you would want to hire me after what I did," Nikki says.

"I've hurt God," I say. "And He still works with me because He loves me. You know I won't push Nikki it's all your choice."

"Jack and the guys are never gonna believe this," Nikki says. "What time do I start? And where is it?"
"8 a.m. sharp. 9999 Carter Street."

What she doesn't know is I'm going in at seven.



The next morning, I arrive at the new site.

Jack walks in at 7:15 a.m. and I'm doing some preliminary work.

"Jack, sit down, I need to talk to you," I say.

"Boss, what is it?" Jack inquires peering at me.

"Nikki needs a job. And she's coming to work for me."

"When are you going to give up on the woman?" Jack says. How about a little tough love?"

"I wonder if the Angels ask God the same question every time we sin, I say. After all, He sent His Son to be treated like common trash and die for us."

"True, but God does discipline us."

"Yes, but that's His job, not mine. What she needs from me and from you too, is prayer and respect."

"What's going on?"

"Nikki's sister died in a car accident. And you've met my niece Ash. So I think you can fill in the blanks."

"And I'm guessing that other guy's history," Jack says.

"I just wanna make sure she's treated with the same respect you'd give any other coworker," I say.

"Will do, boss, by God's grace," Jack declares.

"That's all I'm asking," I respond.



At lunchtime, I go in to the bedroom they’re painting.

"Time for lunch, guys," I say.

I see them smiling.

"It's good to see my team getting along so well," I say.

"God knows what He's doing," Jack says.

"Amen. But what do you mean?"

He led you to hire an interior decorator to help paint this room. I can match colors but I'm not that sharp when it comes to distinguishing shades. I never would've caught the shop's error. But Nikki’s got a great eye."

"Only God could use such a small thing as a grandfather teaching his granddaughter his trade in so many ways," Nikki says. But He knew someday I would need a job to support my niece."

"And He knew He could use all of your talents to help us do our job right," Jack says.

"You're right, " I say. "It's lunchtime."

"Mike, where were you planning to go to lunch?" Nikki says.

Good thing I didn't have any tools because I would've dropped them.

"Why?"

"I thought maybe I'd call Ash and we'd go to lunch—the three of us, I mean."

This is good. This is very good. It's all I can do not to shout, hallelujah. She wouldn't give Ash false hope, me maybe. But not Ash.

"Market Square. Unless you'd rather go some place else," I say.

"That's fine," Nikki declares. "I know how much Ash likes their cheeseburgers."

"But you both like the fish at Maurice's," I say.

"None of us can afford that right now," Nikki says.

"I'd like to take the two of you out for a real nice lunch someday, if you don't mind."

"That would be great."



We arrive at the restaurant. As soon as we get our table Ash pipes up saying, "So does this mean you two are getting back together.

Silence. Then Nikki reaches for my hand. What are we going to do until I can sell Kate's house?"

"What do you think I am, Mr. fix it?" I say.

"Aren't you?"

"I fix houses, by God's grace, but stuff like this is out of my league. Let’s pray"

"What's the problem? Ash inquires. Do we need to sell mom's house before we move into uncle Mike’s."

"Ladies, there's another option," I say. I can see about renting out my house and moving in with you."

Ash is nodding her head. For Nikki's part, her eyes are moistening. "You've done so much," she says. We—I mean I don't deserve it."

"Thank you. But I can't take the credit. God did it all. "And I don't deserve it either.

"What do you mean?"

“You want me to get all teary-eyed, don't you? I don't deserve to have my family back. Sure, it's God's will, but that doesn't mean I deserve it. Just because I've been a faithful husband, doesn't mean I have always done right by the Lord."

" None of us has, Mike, not even Ash here,” Nikki says tapping our niece on the shoulder.
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