I leave you this holiday season with a wonderful piece by Sharon Cupp Pennington. Merry Christmas and may your new year be filled with joy, love and peace.
The Right Thing
By Sharon Cupp Pennington
Deborah Sterling tipped the deliveryman and closed the door, sliding glittering ribbon off the foil box. Christmas was her favorite season. Carols, greeting cards, gifts wrapped to perfection by the ladies at Craig’s Ballantine Avenue store. Married thirty years, he delighted in spoiling her and their only child, Daniel.
Deborah sat, box in her lap. She lifted the photograph atop a Chippendale table and ran her finger across the handsome soldier’s face. “Where are you, son?” she whispered.
“Don’t give up on him,” Craig had said. “Daniel’s a Marine. Superbly trained. Iraq’s swarming with Coalition, Deb. They’ll bring him home by Christmas.”
Christmas. Three weeks away?
She returned the photograph, studied the box. Craig’s futile attempt to lessen her grief.
Three fortune cookies were nestled inside. She cracked one open, removed its paper sliver. “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Trembling, she read the second fortune. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
She dropped the third cookie back in the box. A cruel joke from someone against the war.
Someone who knew her father.
Reverend Albert Merriday swore by the Golden Rule. Her mother embraced it every hardworking day of her short life. In lean times they dug deeper, gave more.
“Not because it’s expected,” her father said, “but because it’s the right thing.”
Last visit home, he’d called Deborah spoiled, with scrambled priorities.
But he didn’t know her. Not then. Not now.
She stood, setting the box by the window. Snow fell again. Daniel loved the snow. Craig once swore she’d never want for anything. Well, she wanted now.
“You need busy work.”
She hurried to her studio. For twenty years she’d designed for one of the most prestigious houses — and the most fickle stars.
She circled the mannequin, tried not to think of fortune cookies, who cruelly sent them. Every year she’d allocated one dress for someone in need, gratis. They’d met Jimmy Chang years ago. He and his wife drove Deborah to the hospital the night she went into premature labor in their small restaurant’s busy kitchen. Another night Craig worked late at his store.
In January, the Chang’s eldest daughter would wear this wedding dress.
The telephone rang. Hurrying to answer, Deborah bumped the sewing table. Seed pearls scattered. “Hello?”
Craig’s voice. “Turn on the TV, Deb.”
“Why, what channel?”
“Doesn’t matter. Networks are all running the story. Daniel, three others! All a little worse for wear, but—”
“How, where? Oh, God, when?”
“No details yet. Jimmy called to say he’d sent you the fortune cookies from lunch. God only knows why you like those tasteless things, but he made these special, a reminder of the lovely things you do for others. Deb, turn on the TV!”
She dropped the phone, ran downstairs, switched on the news.
Laughing, crying, she snatched up the box from Jimmy Chang. Hands shaking, Deborah could hardly unfurl the third cookie’s fortune. She choked out the words, “Good things come to those who wait.”
Sharon Cupp Pennington’s short stories have appeared in numerous online and print venues, with anthology contributions to The Rocking Chair Reader in the Coming Home edition (2004) and Family Gatherings (2005), A Cup of Comfort for Weddings: Something Old, Something New (2007), and Good Old Days Magazine (March, 2007). Draumr Publishing released her debut romantic suspense novel, Hoodoo Money, in May 2008 and the sequel, Mangroves and Monsters, in November 2009. She resides in Texas with her husband where she is currently working on her next project.