Warm, bright Southern California summers seem to last forever, stretching into the fall, like a lazy cat waking up from a nap, but October meant business tonight. Darkness came early and the air was crisp as I approached the double wide trailer.
I was here to meet Audrey.
She had been a student in my "E-bay Made Easy" class at the local community center. She was the oldest person in the class at 81, spry, enthusiastic, and adorable. At the end of my class she approached me to request my help in selling a large piece of antique furniture. Her white polyester pants were pulled up to meet her brassiere and the sleeves of her pink, silk shirt rested gently on her petite frame. She wore silver dollar sized white earrings and a beaded necklace to match.
"After my husband's death, I downsized to a trailer and the fainting couch is just taking up too much space in the living room, " she explained. "I know I just took your class, but I am not comfortable on the computer." I gave her my business card and told her I would be happy to help.
She called a few days later and invited me to come take a look at the couch, so here I was, armed with a tape measure, a notepad, and a digital camera.
As walked across the lawn to Audrey's front door, two small rabbits sat in the flowerbed near the porch, chewing furiously and staring at me. I half expected them to wave, they looked so at peace with my presence. I smiled and trotted up the steps and knocked lightly on Audrey's door. The door opened immediately.
"Well, hi there honey, come on in!" She ushered me in and asked me if I would like anything to drink. I politely declined and looked around.
"Wow! Is this the fainting couch you were talking about?" My eyes were now glued on the most magnificent piece of furniture I had ever seen. It looked like it belonged in a castle!
"That's it!" she chirped brightly.
The rich, red, velvet shimmered in the low light of the living room and it was all I could do to not fall on it and stroke it lovingly. The dark, round mahogany legs were covered in carvings that looked like twisted leaves.
"This is a magnificent piece! You sure you want to get rid of it?"
She seemed surprised by my enthusiasm. "My grandchildren have no appreciation for this type of furniture. They like the modern look or the 'made in china' look as I call it. " She chuckled and touched the top of the couch with one finger. "They don't make 'em like they used to, that's for sure."
I took pictures and careful measurements of the couch and we chatted about her antique hunts all over the world. Once finished, I started to pack up my stuff.
"Audrey, I would love to stay and chat some more, but I have to get going. You know that massive wildfire all over the news? Well, my parents are literally just a few miles from it and I am very worried about them. I really need to get going so I can check in on them."
She grabbed my hands so quickly and firmly that I jumped.
"Let's pray right now!"
Her tight grip told me I did not have a choice. She launched into prayer.
"Lord, we come to you tonight and ask for your protection to be on Holly's parents. Send your angels to hover over them and protect them right now!" She punctuated the last two words by shaking my hands emphatically. In a loud, deliberate voice she continued, "Lord, here we are standing in front of a fainting couch and we have forgotten how to faint! We have forgotten to lean on you! Lord, in times of worry and trouble, lead us to the fainting couch so that we learn to rely on you and not on ourselves. Lord, we thank you in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. Amen."
Breathless, she dropped my hands. Blood began to flow back into my fingers as we hugged warmly.
As I walked out the door and into the autumn darkness, I whispered her prayer softly, to myself and to the curious rabbits most likely still lingering in the flower beds -
"Lord, lead me to the fainting couch."
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