Just My Luck

Tap,tap…tap tap tap. Tap, tap…tap tap tap.

Leah Donovan awoke to the rhythmic sound of rain drops hitting her bedroom window. She really didn’t want to get up. The bed felt so good, but she had to get ready for work.

When she turned on the water in the shower, it was cold and remained that way. She quickly jumped in, washed, then jumped out. After she got dressed, she went to put on her shoes, but one of the heels had begun to separate. She went to grab a quick breakfast of toast and juice, but the bread was molded and there was no juice.

avaxnewsLeah felt like she just wasn’t having any luck. She grabbed her wallet, keys, and cell phone. Once outside, she was bombarded with raindrops. She doubled back for her red umbrella.

As Leah walked the three blocks to the bus stop, the rain stopped. Rays of sun tried their best to break through the clouds before them. She closed the red umbrella hoping it would not be needed anytime soon.

Leah stood at the bus stop with the others she saw most mornings. No one seemed to speak – just nod a greeting and proceed with whatever they were doing. Her cell phone buzzed.

<Jim: Tuesday, 7:17am>: Not feeling well. Won’t be in. Can you make the presentation at 8:30am?

Leah’s eyes grew large. She never liked standing in front of groups, especially when she had not prepared for whatever she was supposed to speak about. She started typing an excuse for why she couldn’t do it, then erased it.

<Leah, Tuesday, 7:19am>: Sorry you’re not feeling well. Sure I can do it.

<Jim: Tuesday, 7:20am>: Thank you. I’ll email you the presentation.

Leah felt ill in a way, nervous really. She checked her email. Jim’s presentation was there. She clicked on the file. Scrolling through the slides there was much that she was not familiar with. A second email came in. It was notes. Thank God!

Leah got on the bus and swiped her pass while fully immersed in the content of her unexpected task. She sat on one of the side benches, laying down her umbrella and wallet as her eyes stayed glued to her cell phone.   When her stop came up, she rose from her seat still studying the presentation while managing to grab her wallet without looking. She descended the bus stairs and off to work.

Once there, Leah had to hustle to make sure everything for the presentation was set up and ready. She mimicked a dry run as she sat in her cube and then reviewed Jim’s notes again. Even after all of that, she still felt ill-prepared. Her hands were sweaty and her stomach felt on the verge of lurching. She hated being put on the spot, but this was for Jim. He’d mentored her since she joined the company over two years ago. And he had been there when her sister passed away.

Then it dawned on her. Leah looked at her desk and didn’t see the umbrella. She started to panic. Where is it? She scrounged around the drawers in her cube then tried retracing her steps. It hit her. She left it on the bus. She started to cry. It was all she had left of her. Leah tried to collect herself. The presentation was in five minutes, and in this moment, it didn’t matter compared to what she had lost – again.

She frantically looked up the name of the bus company and called. They didn’t offer much help, just a “check back tomorrow to see if it turns up in our lost and found”.

Leah felt like she couldn’t function. Her mind was stuck on the red umbrella and her sister. Her co-worker broke her glazed stare by reminding her about the presentation.

Leah completed the presentation successfully and had received a few pats on the back from her peers. The distraction of the umbrella had obviously cured her stage fright. But now she was on a mission. She devoted her lunch break to finding the symbolic link to her deceased sister.

*****

Two stops down from where Leah got off the bus earlier, a casually-dressed man climbed aboard and took a seat. When he noticed the red umbrella setting alone on one of the side benches, he asked if anyone had lost it. No one claimed it, so he took it. After all, rain was in the forecast for the afternoon.

The man exited the bus, then walked a couple of blocks to a café to meet a friend for coffee. When he sat down at the table, he placed the umbrella in the chair next to him. The friend arrived and the two shared conversation over hot drinks and pastries. Afterwards, the man paid the check and left. The waitress did not notice the umbrella until after the man and his friend had left and she was clearing the table. She placed it in the lost and found in case he came back.

That afternoon, it started to rain again. The waitress had no covering so she took the umbrella from the lost and found. By the time she got to the bus stop, the rain had subsided. She wrapped the umbrella up in itself and set it next to her. She spent the ride looking at the people and buildings that she passed by. The waitress thought she saw her boyfriend in an embrace with another woman. She got off at the next stop, hurrying past the boarding passengers to get to the place where the infidelity was taking place. The red umbrella was once again left behind.

Nathan sat down, looking back at the chaos that was developing between the former passenger and the couple on the street. He shook his head in disbelief as the two women began fighting while the man walked away.   Women! 

yesterlandHe turned back around to nonchalantly view the road ahead. Then he took notice of the other passengers. His eyes happened to catch something red in the corner of the back seat. He went back to investigate. It was a red umbrella. Nathan gasped. Some of the passengers turned to look at him.   He nodded his head signaling that everything was ok, but internally he knew that something supernatural was happening.  He picked it up, staring at it, wondering what significance it held.

Nathan got off at the next stop. He found a woman sitting alone on a bench, crying. Remembering what the angel had mentioned, he knew that this was the person he was to help. He placed a hand on her shoulder, “Are you ok?”

The woman looked up at him. Then she saw the umbrella. Her sorrow turned to joy. “My umbrella!”

“Excuse me?”

“I think that’s my umbrella. Can I see the handle?”

“Well, um, here you go.” Nathan handed Leah the umbrella. Sure enough ‘MAROO’, her sister’s nickname, was scratched into the handle.

“I left it on the bus this morning. I thought it was gone forever.” Leah uttered with excitement and relief.

Nathan was puzzled because he thought the deed he was to do would be greater.  “I’m glad you were able to get it back. Hope you have a nice day.” He turned to walk away.

“Hey, wait a minute. Can I buy you lunch or something? After all, you did just save my day.” Leah smiled.

“Uh, sure. Why not?”

Nathan and Leah walked a couple of blocks to one of her favorite spots. Over sandwiches and iced tea, Leah hesitantly began her story, detailing the significance of the umbrella. “My sister Maroo…um, Marie, died a couple of years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Nathan’s eyes yielded genuine sympathy.

Leah continued feeling somewhat comfortable with the man across from her, “It was during one of the bad snow storms. Marie’d left for work, but never arrived. It was unlike her to miss work. She loved her job.”

Nathan leaned forward, attentively listening.

“Three days later, they found her car over a hidden embankment. Snow had covered it, but this red umbrella was sticking out of one of the windows. That’s how the rescue team found her.” Leah tried to choke back tears, but some fell.

Nathan placed his hand on hers offering a proverbial shoulder of comfort.

“So I kept this umbrella as a reminder of my sister and her last act alive.”

“Wow! Had no idea when I picked it up. Glad I did.”

“Me too.” Leah collected herself then smiled. Nathan smiled back. There was a brief pause before they averted each other’s eyes.

Leah changed the subject. As they continued to talk, they found more topics to talk about – some being utterly hilarious. Like the Google commercial about Hall and Oates. She was enjoying Nathan’s company, and he seemed to feel the same. Before they knew it they had been at the restaurant close to two hours. The new-found-friends exchanged numbers and hugged as they were about to part ways. Leah ensured that she still had the umbrella in her possession.

This would be her lucky day after all – and for Nathan too.

Photos: Avax News, Yesterland

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Missed Stop

“Good morning, and welcome to my world. My name’s Nathan. I’ll be your guide for the next hour. Please stay with the group and remember, remain behind the velvet rope”.  Nathan hated giving the same spill each day, but he needed the part-time job at the museum. The medical bills wouldn’t pay for themselves. Even with insurance, the costs were out of reach.

Nathan missed him – his dad that is. He had been the rock of the family but would eventually succumb to a mystery illness.  He couldn’t believe that’s how they described it. Wasn’t medicine modern? Weren’t scientists doting on how far they’d advanced? Nathan knew it was all baloney.

His parents tried to instill faith and spirituality in him as a child. But at this point in his life, his level of belief had waned. First his mother abandoned him and his father when he was eleven.  Then they had to move to a small home in a questionable neighborhood because his father couldn’t afford better.  And Nathan was often home alone due to his father’s work schedule, meaning he had to keep house and make meals for himself.

Things eventually got better over the years – not financially, but comfort of routine.  The worse came a little over a year ago when Nathan’s father was diagnosed with an unexplained illness. In such a short time, his father was gone.

Nathan’s shift had ended. He grabbed his jacket and crossbody bag and headed towards the bus stop. He stopped at the small corner store to buy water and crackers. He’d missed lunch and couldn’t wait to get home. Then again, the cupboard was bare.

A weird feeling came over him. He felt prompted to buy a lottery ticket. It wasn’t his thing, but then again isn’t that how most people won? Nathan looked at the numbers. Nothing superstitious – no birth dates, favorite numbers, old high school jerseys – nothing. He placed the ticket in his bag and proceeded to the bus stop.

Once the bus arrived and Nathan hopped on, he thought about his future. What would it be like if he actually won? If he got the $50 million jackpot he’d wait at least a month before spending a dime. And even then he’d get a legal and financial team together to help made wise choices. He didn’t want to get caught up in the excitement of winning and before long, be broke again. He also didn’t want to be took by these professionals or supposed family that came out of the woodwork.

Speaking of family, where were they? When his dad died, not even his mother resurfaced. Aunts, uncles, and cousins were quick to come by to see what was in the house, but not a one tried to help when the bank was about to foreclose on said house. He was sure these relatives would try to worm their way back.

Before Nathan realized it, he had missed his stop – actually it was several stops ago. His thoughts were so consumed in the hopes of a fortune and bitterness towards blood that was thinner than water. He got off at the next stop then walked across the street to catch the bus in the opposite direction.

As he stood under the shelter, he noticed a homeless man lying on the ground. He appeared to be asleep, or at least Nathan hoped. He stared at the man to ensure that he saw a rising and falling chest. When he turned back around, the man had gotten up and was now standing beside him.

“I’ve been waiting on you.”

“Huh?” Nathan thought the man was drunk and hallucinating.

“You’re Nathan, right?”

Nathan looked shocked and felt scared. He didn’t know how this man knew his name. He decided to walk away. By the time he arrived at the next bus stop two blocks up, the same homeless man was there.

“I’m not trying to scare you. I was sent to guide you. Let me introduce myself. I’m Josiah. I’m an angel.”

“Yeah right. You’re something, but an angel I don’t believe. Quit wasting my time.” Nathan turned away.

Josiah walked around in front of him. “Haven’t you read the scripture about entertaining angels unaware?” Josiah searched Nathan’s face for an acknowledging response. Nothing. “At least heard it?”

Nathan was looking angered. “I’ve heard it. But tell me this. Why weren’t you entertaining when my dad was sick? Or I’ll do you one better, when my mom walked out on us?”

“That I cannot answer. Only the One can tell you that. I’m sure He had His reasons.”

“Well, whatever they were, they suck.”

“Oh my! You shouldn’t talk that way.”

“Don’t tell me what I should and should not do. In fact, what is it you’re supposed to do? Is this something like It’s a Wonderful Life?”

“Not at all.”

“Then what?”

“You will see red. Not in a way that you expect. It will be a signal to help and a new beginning.”

“What in the world is that supposed to mean?”

The homeless man didn’t say anything more. He turned and started to walk away until he faded out of sight. Nathan rubbed his eyes because he couldn’t believe what he saw. He ran in the direction of the disappearing man but had to turn back because the bus had arrived.

Nathan entered the bus and took a seat. He was still in awe about what had happened, and even more puzzled at what the homeless man meant. His best guess was that something would anger him. Well, he was too late in telling him that. He was already angry at his current circumstances. Then Nathan decided that what had happened had to be a delusion. He dismissed it.

When he got home, he turned on every light. While he tried not to believe the earlier events were real, realistically he was spooked. He pulled out his father’s old Bible and set it on the nightstand next to his bed. His fear was starting to turn to superstition. Nathan knew his father would be disappointed in him for that. He wanted to believe, but just didn’t have a reason to.

Nathan took his shower and then returned to his room to get into bed. He picked up the Bible and it opened to Hebrews chapter thirteen. His eyes instinctively went to the second verse: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Nathan quickly closed the book. He got down on his knees to pray, but somehow he ended up in a deep sleep instead.

Nathan envisioned a man standing at the foot of his bed. It was Josiah.

“Nathan your hurts and disappointments have been recognized. Now is the time to believe in spite of these things. If you follow the path given, you will reap more than you ever thought you’d sow.”

And just like before, the man faded away. Nathan’s eyes opened in half-slits. He looked around the room, but didn’t see anyone. It was just like before at the bus stop.  He didn’t know what was going on, and he had grown tired of trying to deny it. It was the first time in years that he would lean towards believing.  And almost at the point of reverting to old thinking, something amazing happened.

***Find out next week what happened to Nathan***

Photos: Complete Wellbeing, Tom Stuart