Shana frowned as she saw Landon’s name flashing on her ringing phone. It was Friday, and he should be on his way home. Balancing a fretful Kelsey with one arm, she answered the phone with apprehension, and then heard her husband’s quiet voice.
“Hi Honey, I’m afraid I won’t make it tonight. The boss needed somebody to work a shift tomorrow, and I sort of agreed to do it…” his voice trailed weakly.
Landon knew Shana was having a hard time with this temporary job arrangement and he, she could tell, was not at all confident in breaking this news to her. She thought he’d been a bit hasty to find work while his regular business was rebuilding, following last month’s hurricane. She had tried to be supportive, knowing he was a careful provider for them and was worried about meeting the expenses. Still, it was so hard with him working several hours away, coming home only on weekends. She was getting very tired, keeping up with her small bookkeeping business, caring for little Kelsey and four-year-old Richie, as well as all the other household tasks.
“Oh, Landon,” she sighed. “I don’t know how I can tell Richie. He is expecting you home in just a few hours.”
Kelsey squirmed in her arms, starting to cry, and Shana felt like joining her.
“Be patient, Honey,” he said, “Just a few months longer. I’m really being paid well, and lucky to have found this job, you know. It will help so much. Do you want me to talk to Richie? I’ll try to make him understand,” Landon finished.
“No, he’s taking a bath and getting ready for bed. I’ll break it to him in a little while,” Shana answered wearily.
“I’m sorry. I love you.” Landon said, uneasily.
“Okay. Love you too.” Shana tried to sound more cheerful than she felt. She hung up and turned to get Richie out of the bathtub.
Before she could talk to him, Richie was in his pajamas and poised in bed to say his prayers. She couldn’t help smiling at his little hands clenched together and head bowed firmly. He was so intense—indeed his father’s son, she thought.
“Dear God, bless my Momma and baby sister, and my Dad driving home. Make him turn that key in the lock real soon, God, ‘cause You know I can’t go to sleep ‘til I hear that click.” Richie’s earnest little voice continued before Shana could interrupt.
“And Please, God, would You tell him we sure do need him at our house? He doesn’t listen so good to me. He says some funny jokes and pats me on the head sometimes, and I like that. Amen.”
Shana felt tears near the surface, deciding to wait until morning to break the news to Richie. Surely, he would go to sleep soon. She would find something exciting to do tomorrow to take his mind off Landon’s absence. She just couldn’t tell him tonight, not after that prayer.
With a heavy heart, Shana carried a sleeping Kelsey to her crib.
Afterward, she read a few words in her devotional book and fell exhausted into her own bed. She slept fitfully, occasionally hearing Richie stirring in his bed across the hall.
Sometime later, perhaps three or four hours, she awoke to a sound. It frightened her, at first, and she sat up straight. Then she realized it was a key turning in the front door.
“Click.” It was unmistakable. Richie beat her to the door, wrapping himself around Landon, who stood there grinning.
“Hi Guys, Sorry I’m so late. I had to find someone to take a Saturday shift, ‘cause I needed to see you. And I told the boss I wouldn’t be able to work but a couple more weeks. We’ll make it somehow until the plant here can reopen. It’s just too hard to be away so much.”
Richie piped up, “A couple more weeks, huh, Dad? That means two more clicks, right?”
Landon’s tired face looked puzzled, and it was Shana’s turn to speak.
“I’ll explain in the morning,” she smiled. “Can we all go to bed now?”
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