Jessica watched him at the window. He was lost in thought as the sun and snow created a disco ball effect of light on his face. She could see he was pensive though she couldn’t tell if he was happy, sad or indifferent.
“I know you’re there”, he said, smirk crossing his lips.
“And you are wondering how I am”, he continued.
“Yes, surprised Chris?”, she answered.
He smiled and shook his head.
It was the same routine every year at this time. The year-end rush always left him drained. There were always those moments of question. Moments of pain. The survival of it was always held up in the end results. But the road to get there was long and never without bruises.
Jessica crossed the room and hugged his arm against her body and laid her head on his shoulder. His head rested against hers. A communal sigh escaped them. She knew he felt the weight of his work. And she knew that the way the world was, made him question whether he should even bother.
“I’m too old for all this”.
“I’m not so youn..”
“Oh shut up you old fool! You and your moods! Stop now before I have to smack you one!”, she said, punching his shoulder.
“Jessica!”, he cried in mock offense.
He kissed her hard. She wrapped her arms around him.
“You always like when I play rough”, she laughed.
As they left the sunlit room, which sparkled even more as Chris left the window, he knew his day was still full and his heart felt even fuller for the dressing down he taken from Jessica. He smiled as went down to the factory floor to make sure all was in order. He wasn’t quite sure why his single largest order always ended up happening as the year drew to a close. But it had always been thus and he accepted it, gratefully.
Day passed to night. The finishing touches done. The paperwork finalized. The workers had all been given their customary bonuses for the exceptional job of making the impossible, possible.
He never quite embraced religion though his feeling in general was that there were forces at work. He felt that souls and grace were as much a part of life as evil and darkness. The problem these days was that feeling that the darkness had a firmer hold on things and it scared him. Not that he hadn’t seen this before. It was just that he felt it wasn’t going to let go very easily. He wasn’t sure what price mankind would pay for ignorance and greed.
He walked the shop floor and stopped by a palette where he could see the full moon’s glow through the skylight. He brought one foot on top of a box on the corner of the skid, crossed his arms over his knee and bowed his head. He spent a lot of time praying. He was never offended by the lack of responses. He always felt the answers came in due time. They just never arrived directly. He’d see the conclusions in events or decisions or other people.
He took no small comfort from those answers. And his wait on what to think about the world today both puzzled and disturbed him. He tried not to feel a sense of abandonment. He tried to convince himself that this was a test. As he spoke to God today, he raised his head and stared directly at the moon, as if it were His face.
Jessica came up behind him and startled him with a “So did the moon help with your questions”?
“Not a bit”.
“So tell me Chris, does it ever occur to you that you are supposed to change things”?
“I don’t understand”, he replied.
She explained that perhaps what he was doing was supposed to matter. What he was doing was supposed to help others. Maybe HE was the reminder to people of what good was. What generosity was. What giving without expectation was.
He just stared at her.
Just then the warehouse lights came on and the crew filed in, singing. They loaded everything up. It was a magic moment for all that so much could somehow fit in such a small space.
Jessica turned Chris around and helped him on with his coat. As he cinched up the wide black belt, he chuckled. As he turned back around the chuckle turned in to a full throated, belly deep laugh that made everyone else laugh too.
He kissed his lovely wife once again. She patted his bum as walked off to make sure his final order of the year was delivered. As he strode off with a purpose, it was her turn. She bowed her head, asking for his safe passage.
“I’ll be back at first light!”
She replied, “Your bed will be warm and waiting. And so will I”.
That stopped him and made him turn around. He simply beamed and gave her a wink. He jumped aboard and shot off into the night.