Jess

The service was mystical, the liturgy classic, and I let tears stream freely down my cheeks as I basked in the splendor of it all.  Tom put an arm around my shoulder and kissed my forehead.  I beamed up at him though the moisture in my eyes.  He smiled affectionately and continued singing “The Church’s One Foundation.”  I rested my head against his chest, soaking in the tender vibrations of his honey-sweet voice.

After shaking some hands and chatting with the rector and a few locals, I asked Tom to take me grocery shopping again.  Now in the store, I stood in front of the canned hams attempting to convert metric to standard.

“Jess,” Tom said, coming up behind me.  He placed some bottles of wine and wheels of cheese in the cart.  “Don’t you think this is a bit much?”  

Tom wore a confused expression as he motioned toward the many boxes of hot and cold cereals, and cans of chipped beef, salmon, tuna, and vegetables.  There were two roasts, a turkey breast, some pork chops, ground beef, and chicken as well. 

“Oh,” I spoke, amused at how it must have appeared to him.  “It’s not all for us.” 

He gave me another perplexed look, and I sighed knowing I had to come clean. 

“The boy who helped me yesterday,” I began, not sure of how to explain what I had in mind.  “His mother is older, and suffers from debilitating arthritis.  They’re poor, Tom.”  I paused and glanced up, searching for his reaction.  “She’s a widow…,” I trailed off, looking away.  “Like me.”

Tom gripped me by the shoulders and peered down until I lifted my eyes to his.  They were crisp and clear, and filled with determination. 

“Then they’ll need more, won’t they,” he said; his words more of a directive than a question.

Tom

I stepped into the dimly lit home and blinked; my vision adjusting as I scanned over my surroundings.  The place was small but tidy.  Old photographs and oil paintings dotted the walls.

“Tom, this is Daniel,” Jess told me, holding her palm out to the orange haired boy in introduction.  Youthful green eyes smiled up at me.  “Daniel, this is Tom.”

“You’re tall,” the boy said with his head tilted back as far as it could go. 

I chuckled and squatted in front of him.

“Is this better?”  I asked.  The boy nodded as he grinned at me.  “I would like to thank you Daniel,” I began, extending my hand.  “For saving my friend here.” 

I motioned to Jess.  She was watching the pair of us interact, and I briefly wondered why she and Brian had no children. 

Perhaps she does, I thought, not sure of how that made me feel.  But surely she would have mentioned them? I reasoned. 

The Hand That Held Mine - Volume IRead this story for FREE!