Pat Jeanne Davis writes from Philadelphia, PA where she lives with her husband and two sons. Her stories, essays and articles have appeared in online publications and in print as a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books (3), Guideposts, The Lookout, GRIT Magazine, Brave Hearts, Bible Advocate, Renewed and Ready, Faith and Finance, God Answers Prayers, Blessings for Mothers, Woman's Touch, Woman Alive Magazine (UK) and she is a regular contributor of devotions at www.ChristianDevotions.us. Pat has completed an historical inspirational novel set in WWII and is seeking publication. She is a member of The Writers View and The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. Learn more about Pat at www.patjeannedavis.com and www.shoutlife.com/patjeannedavis.
Cyndi sat at the kitchen table and poured her first cup of coffee. She winced at her reflection in the chrome toaster. Thirty-five today. No man and now no job. The doorbell chimed, interrupting her gloomy thoughts.
A gray-haired woman of about sixty greeted her. “Hello. I’m Emily from across the street. Sorry to disturb, but your dog’s barking in my yard.”
“Ooh. I’ll get him.” She extended her hand. “I’m Cyndi. Come in.”
The neighbor stepped inside the door. “You’re new here.” She smiled. “On vacation this week?”
Cyndi slipped into her shoes. “No. I lost my job.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Emily sighed. “But you see. . . . Well, my son works nights and I keep things quiet during the day.”
“Sorry my dog’s been bothering you. It won’t happen again.”
As Cyndi left the neighbor’s yard with Luke on his leash, Emily touched her arm. “Let me know if I can help.”
Cyndi smiled. Right. How could she help me?
At home Cyndi flopped onto the settee. She twisted her long brown hair in her fingers and drank the cold coffee. The golden retriever sprawled across her feet. At least I’m not entirely alone.
She reached down and patted Luke’s head. “There's you, old fella, and a friendly neighbor.”
She hoped this melancholy would soon pass. Cyndi realized she was fortunate to have found this house with a small backyard, and thanked God for it. And she’d dropped two dress sizes on the new diet, placing her¬¬ almost at the ideal weight for her medium frame. But still not as slim as that twig Bob left me for two years ago.
She reached down to stroke Luke’s coat. “You’ll go for a run later this afternoon.”
After an hour biking in the park, Cyndi was ready to leave. Luke wasn't.
He pranced around, thwarting her efforts to load her bike into the van.
“You need a hand?”
Startled, Cyndi turned to see a man standing with hands on his hips. He was a little over her five-foot-eight-inch frame. Sweat trickled down his cheeks.
“No . . . thanks . . . I can manage.”
“Okay, suit yourself.” He swiped his forehead and resumed jogging.
Where have I seen him before? Cyndi searched her memory with no success.
The weeks dragged as Cyndi grappled for some semblance of normality as she searched for another job.
Leaving the house one afternoon, she spotted Emily and crossed over. A man was unloading bags from her car.
Emily jerked her head toward him. “My son, Johnny.”
“Sorry, no hands.” He smiled and disappeared into the house.
Cyndi recognized him as the man at the park. But I’ve seen him somewhere else, too.
Emily leaned over and whispered, “Not so friendly with women. His girl broke their engagement two summers ago.”
Just the opposite of my ex-husband, the woman chaser. Cyndi reflected.
She made an attempt to smile. “Yeah, I’ve been there, too. Well, I’m off to the library and then the fitness center.”
Seated in her car, Cyndi watched in her rearview mirror as John walked back to where his mother stood.
An hour later, carrying a few magazines and books from the library, she walked to the gym, flipping through a magazine as she went.
“Can you read and open the door, too?”
She looked up to see John. He shifted the duffel bag to his shoulder and stepped back into the lobby and held the door. “Cyndi, isn’t it?”
She dropped the magazine into her oversized bag. “And you’re Johnny.”
John pulled his hat forward. “Well, gotta run or I’ll be late getting to Jefferson.”
“Jefferson! The hospital? So that’s where I’ve seen you.”
He flashed a row of beautiful white teeth. “And I thought your face looked familiar, too.”
Cyndi smiled. “I’m unemployed now, but worked there for ten years.”
“For me it’s six years as a nurse on 5-MSB.”
“A psychiatric nurse?”
Cyndi felt a tight knot in the pit of her stomach. Is that where I saw him, or was it somewhere else in the hospital? She hesitated about telling him that she’d been a patient on his unit two years ago.
John smiled. “Probably saw you on one of my rare day shifts.”
John readjusted his baseball cap and swiped his hand across his forehead. “Hope you find work soon.”
Cyndi attempted to sound cheerful. “Thanks. I have an interview tomorrow.”
“Maybe we’ll run into each other again.”
“I expect to be home most days until I find another job.”
As John turned to leave, Cyndi thought she detected a grin and a twinkle in his blue eyes.
Who’s at the door this early? Cyndi ambled down the hall, still in her crumpled blue robe.
John stood outside with her golden retriever. “Looks like you'll need a higher fence.” He laughed. “Seems he likes my yard.”
Cyndi regretted that she hadn’t dressed or even combed her hair. “I’m sorry he’s a bother.”
John stooped and rubbed Luke’s neck. “No trouble. I just got home.”
Cyndi noted that John’s hair color was the same honey brown as Luke’s coat.
“Well, have you found anything yet?” He was looking at her dog, but addressing her.
Cyndi drew a sharp silent breath. Did he ask if I found anyone yet? She felt the heat rush to her face. No. He couldn’t have said that!
“No . . . not yet.”
He stood up. “Try to be optimistic. Something’ll turn up.
John made to leave, then half-turned and frowned. “Look . . . just a thought. Are you free this Saturday? I’m going hiking and biking in the mountains where my sister lives.”
He slapped his stomach. “Still need to lose more weight.”
Luke jumped up. “Him, too.” He ruffled the dog’s ears. “Lot's of room to run . . . and it’ll keep him out of my yard.”
“Sure . . . thanks for asking me.” Cyndi's tone masked her excitement.
“Gotta get some shut-eye. The unit was busy last night.” He smiled. “You know how it gets.”
Flustered, Cyndi leaned against the door frame and watched John go. If I hadn’t lost my job, I might not have gotten to know John. Cyndi realized she had good reason to be optimistic—God still watched over her.
The fluttering of a curtain across the street caught her eye. She saw Emily step back from the window.
Cyndi pressed her nose against Luke's snout. “So . . . who’s the matchmaker here? Emily or you?”