Mr. Strauss looks up from his magazine. His foot is in a sling attached to the bed frame. He squints through his reading glasses.
“Hi, Mr.S! It’s Shamira.” I seat myself on the chair near the bed and begin rifling through my knapsack. “I brought you some more gardening magazines.” Three glossy specimens are spread out on the white blanket. “I got these from the bookstore. They’re the latest issues, so you can keep up on everything while you’re in here.”
He sighed. “Some days I don’t think I’ll ever get out of here.”
“You will.” I tell him, smiling. “Read my lips. I. Will. Get. Better.” He smiles. “See, that wasn’t so bad. You have to get better, or I’m turning you into a garden whiz for nothing.”
A raspy laugh fills the room. “You’re the best medicine.” He declares between coughs. “I’ll read these, you go on and spread your smile with the others.”
“Not until I pray for you.” I nod towards his foot. “How’s the leg today and where’s Mrs. S?”
“Itches where I can’t scratch and makes my back ache. Mandy went to buy coffee.”
I bow my head and organize his complaints into polite requests. When I open my eyes, he has a funny look on his face. “What’s the matter?”
He blinks. “My leg…it stopped itching.”
“Have a good evening, Mr. S.” I grab my bag and hurry out to the next room.
The goth teen nearly mows me over as he hurries towards the elevator. I cautiously peek around the door.
Miss Marie is still there, her white hair curling so prettily around her face. “Hi, Miss Marie!” I whisper, slipping into the room and half-closing the door.
She tries to smile, but I see the tears glistening on her cheeks.
“What’s the matter?”
Another tear trickles down. “That boy that went out? That’s my grandson, Jake. Or Jock, as he likes to call himself.” She sniffles. “I don’t know how to get through to him anymore. Ever since my stroke, he’s been so distant. I’m the only family he’s got.”
I squeeze her hand and then pull a hair brush and clip from my knapsack, circling around to work on her hair.
“The rent is due, but my social security hasn’t come in yet. The landlord’s pushing him around because he’s just a boy. His job barely pays for gas and clothes.”
A pocketpak of Kleenex pats away the tears and I smooth on some face cream from a sample packet. A little gold compact mirror is tucked into her hand.
I bow my head and whisper a prayer for her aching heart and body, for her strained relationship with her grandson and that her finances will work themselves out.
“Bless you, dear.” She says, fighting back fresh tears. “You always have an open heart and ready prayer.”
Jock is hovering by the door as I exit.
He steps inside. “Hey Gram? I'm sorry.”
The business man is leaving the next room and I slip inside to see Monica. She smiles weakly. “Hey girlfriend!”
“Hiya. What’s up?”
She laughs and then coughs. “I’ll get out next week, they say the baby and I both lost blood, so they want to keep us under surveillance.” She grabs my hand. “Shamira, pray for me. That was Bobby, he still wants a divorce. He says the baby doesn’t change anything.”
I hold her hands and pray for her marriage to be according to God’s will, for her and the baby to be healthy and her to be wrapped in a Father’s love.
“That was beautiful.” Monica whispered, swiping at tears. “I think you’re an angel in disguise.”
I smile and pull out a journal with a glitter pen. “Here. I know you like to write, enjoy!”
I am out the door before she can say her thanks.
There is one more stop. “Hi Uncle Henry!” I hand over a stack of CD’s. “I brought your favorite music. How ya doin’?”
“Better than yesterday.” He smiles. “What was today’s sermon?”
“Finding our spiritual gifts.” I flopped on the window lounge. “You would’ve liked it.”
“I see. Have you figured out your gifts yet?”
I sighed. “Sort of. I’m working on it…”
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