Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Jennie’s Christmas Miracle……. Flash Fiction
I met him in line at the grocery store. Do-rag, jean jacket, beard, little Jon Lennon glasses, silver thumb ring. Not my type at all. He was buying tons of flour, bananas, zucchinis; obviously someone was going to be baking up a storm. Turned out it was him. When he noticed me behind him he flashed a beatific smile that would have had any casting director searching for a believable Jesus signing him on the dotted line.
The smile was what did it. Well, that and the stop motion flash of images of us tangled up together under a sweat soaked sheet that accompanied his handshake. And it wasn't just me. The cashier actually had to poke him on the shoulder to give him his change.
When we clonked back to earth, he helped me unload my cart and waited until I paid. He wrote his address on the back of his card and told me that if I wanted to come over the next day to sample his breads he'd love to have me.
I spent a sleepless night weighing the pros and cons.
When I rang his bell the next day I was shaking head to foot. I almost fled when I heard footsteps coming to the door. But then I straightened my spine and stood my ground. The door opened and let out heat, Sinatra and the wonderful smell of freshly baked zucchini bread. I was pulled into the apartment by that heavenly mixture and by the little white haired woman who opened the door. She smiled, took my coat, suggested I leave my boots by the door and ushered me toward the kitchen.
Marcus was barefoot, bending down to adjust something inside the open oven door. He lit up when he saw me. My mind registered a soft white Mexican style shirt and jeans slung low on slim hips in the instant before he crossed the room to engulf me in the best hug I've ever had. He kissed my neck and told me that he was so happy I'd come. His mother came back from wherever she'd taken my coat with a baby on her hip. The baby immediately launched himself at me and I explained that they'd been doing that to me my whole life. Nina, Marcus's mother, said that was because babies could see my heart light.
The rest of the evening was a blur. About twenty people showed up in the next few hours. Most were family, some were friends. I know I ate a lot, laughed so much my face hurt and drank about ten gallons of hot sweet tea. Marcus kept bringing me fresh cups and he took each opportunity to hug or kiss me hello and goodbye as he left and reentered the room.
Eventually everybody went home; Marcus's mom, his brothers, his sister Gina, her baby and her husband, all the guys who worked with Marcus in his custom bike shop and his best friend Jeff from grade school.
All that was left was us, Sinatra and a whirring dishwasher. We sat snuggled together on his couch and gazed at his Christmas tree. He kissed me down the side of my neck and up the side of my face, eventually making his way to my mouth. After a good long time he pulled back and thanked me for spending the evening with him. Then he asked me if I was tired and needed to go home or if I would consider staying for a while.
I never left.
That was twelve years ago and every year we recreate our grocery store meeting. Then we go home and bask in our tree to celebrate the day we met. But these days it's a day that has to do double duty because it's also our wedding anniversary.
I used to be one of those Scroogy people who didn't believe in Christmas miracles and who would never even have thought about letting down my guard and taking advantage of one of those just gotta have it impulse items in the grocery store check out line.
But now? I'm a convert. I take a moment every time I transfer my items from cart to conveyer belt to bend a discreet knee and thank the gods of grocery for all that they have provided. And once a year I drop a few crumbs of Marcus's special Christmas zucchini bread in offering. Because you never know; they might be vengeful gods. And I don't want to lose what I've found. I'm proof positive that zucchini bread can make everything better.
Especially when you top it off with a hot buttered man……seasoned of course, to taste.