Jane pictured a day of peace and quiet; planned on not answering the phone, leaving the house or watching TV.
Energized by the thought, she set a breakfast-of-champions on the table before her husband, Bob.
As if starving, a strip of bacon and half an egg were inhaled. “Hmm, you should book a day off more often. Whatcha’ got planned?”
Jane handed him a napkin for the glob of ketchup and egg hanging on his moustache and smiled. “As little as possible.”
Fifteen minutes later, coffee in hand, she was starting her day as she liked, but couldn’t always do. Jane turned to Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always…”
Now this is something we’re good at. Bob and Jane Smiley were known for their love of life, calm demeanor and smiling patience in the face of frustration.
The ring of the cordless interrupted Jane’s meditations. Going against her previous plan, she ran to find it.
Nine-year-old, Sara, passed her on the way to the bathroom. “Morning, Mom.”
“Hey, I’m heading into a very important meeting and just realized I forgot my laptop at home? Think you could drop it off?”
The water was running in the bathroom. Jimmy, seven, now at the closed door, was hopping from one foot to the next, grimacing in discomfort.
“Sara, you need to open the door for Jimmy.”
Jane took a deep breath. “Sorry. Yes, I can do that for you.”
“Thanks, Babe. I’m all smiles cause you’re the best.”
Thinking up ways to use their name in conversation was the ongoing challenge. Conceding the win, they’d “high-five” their wit. Jane didn’t feel like conceding.
While dressing she heard Sara banging on the bathroom door over the sound of the still-running water.
Jane was about to suggest a more polite approach when she felt her socks getting wet. As they both looked down, the water flowed past their feet into the hall.
“Jimmy, open the door NOW!”
Jane turned as her son came from the kitchen. “What do you want Mom?”
Finding the key, Jane got inside turned off the tap and pulled the plug in the sink. Sara scooped up a sopping, disgruntled cat, the sole occupant of the now-flooded bathroom. With a shrug of embarrassment, she explained, “Half-pint was thirsty, Mom.”
Leaving to find dry socks, Jane was met by Bart, the golden retriever, happily crunching on kitty litter. Wanting to share his treasures, Bart pressed his nose into Jane’s thigh leaving a blotch of softened pebbles, saliva and little bits of “best-not-to-ask” on her new jeans.
An hour later Jane was in her car, working her way back to rejoicing. The bathroom fiasco behind her, children at school, she cranked her favorite worship CD, harmonizing in true Smiley fashion.
At the chorus, the car sputtered and stalled.
Waiting to jog across the busy highway, a delivery truck rumbled to a stop beside her, its rear tire rolling perfectly into a pothole. Jane felt, before she saw, the sludgy, brown contents propelled from the hole down the back of her white, cotton pants.
Without the cash deposit for the jerrican, she went straight to the bank machine. Conscious of the soiled state of her backside, she stood sideways. After three tries at remembering her password, the machine invited her to contact her local bank, keeping her card.
A familiar voice behind her asked, “Jane? Is that you?”
Once over the initial embarrassment of having her boss see the mess she was in, Jane actually rejoiced over their chance meeting. He paid for the filled jerrican and took her back to the car.
By the time Jane got to Bob’s office, her pants were dried and crusty. Attempting to remain incognito, she never noticed the trail of dirt dropping in clumps as she darted in and out a side door.
The phone rang as the mantle clock chimed one.
“We thought you’d like to know…” this can’t be good…
“…Jimmy had to spend his lunch hour in detention. During Science he carried another student’s desk into the boys’ bathroom. We realize Lisa had been teasing him but Jimmy’s reaction broke the “Code of Conduct”...
Reflecting on her “day off” as she prepared for bed, Jane couldn’t help being amused. Guess it’s called practicing rejoicing-always.
Bob came out of the bathroom, a silly grin on his face. “So…bet you’re wishing you had another day off.”
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