"You look exhausted," Sara said when Greg arrived the following night.
They planned to take Danny to see the Christmas lights at the state capitol, spend some time together as a family, but a grueling day at the office had zapped his energy and left him drained.
"Give me a few minutes. I'll be fine."
"We're still going, aren't we, Dad?" Danny asked, hopping from one foot to the other.
The weariness slipped away as Greg saw the excitement in his son's eyes. "You bet," he said, swinging Danny up to his shoulder.
The next hours were the happiest he could remember. They returned home exhausted but happy.
Reluctantly, he left Sara and Danny to return to his empty apartment. The silence mocked the laughter he'd shared with his wife and son only hours earlier. His footsteps echoed across the carpet as he sank down on the bed, not bothering to undress. The future rolled out before him, a depressing picture of loneliness.
For the first time since he'd been a child, he knelt by his bed. The words felt awkward upon his lips as he poured out his heart to God.
"Please, Father, let Sara and me and Danny find our way back together. I don't want to be alone."
"Do you hear?" Prudie asked, unable to hide her excitement. "He's praying. He believes."
Sister Endurance looked at Prudie with compassion. "Does he, dear?"
"Of course he does. Don't you hear him?"
"His words come from fear of loneliness. They must come from the heart if they are to reach heaven." Endurance took herself off, leaving Prudie alone with her thoughts.
Prudie paused, listening again. Endurance was right. Greg's prayer was one of fear. How could she turn it into one of love?
Greg jerked up from his knees. He'd heard something. Music? No, it'd been a voice. "Who's there?"
The voice came again. "Tell Sara you love her."
"Who's there?" he demanded more loudly, squinting into the darkness.
He flipped on the lights. "If this is some kind of joke ..."
"It's no joke, Greg. Sara and Danny need you. You need them."
He was going crazy. That was it. Too much work. Worry over Danny. He waited, but the voice didn't return.
By the following morning, he'd managed to convince himself he'd imagined the voice from last night. Almost.
It wasn't until the elevator ride to his office on the twenty-third floor that he heard the voice again. "You don't belong here, Greg. You're not happy."
He looked around, wondering why the elevator's other occupants hadn't reacted to the voice.
"Did you hear that?" he asked the woman standing next to him.
"No," she said, inching away from him. "Not a thing."
"Leave this place," the voice said. "Go home to Sara and Danny."
"Sara doesn't love me anymore," he said, not caring that people were staring at him.
"How do you know unless you ask her?" The voice was tart with impatience.
Greg reached his office, smiled at his secretary, and told her to take the day off.
She gave him a puzzled look, murmured a thank-you, and gathered up her belongings.
The resignation took less time than five minutes to type.
He looked around his office. With the exception of a family picture, there was nothing he wanted to take with him. Suddenly, he couldn't wait to escape the rarefied atmosphere of Harper and Cameron.
On the way to the house, he rehearsed what he'd say. He'd been given another chance. He didn't intend to blow it. He pushed on the doorbell. When Sara opened the door, his carefully planned words fled. "I quit my job."
"Quit. Resigned. Left."
She looked at him in concern. "Are you all right?"
"I'm great," he said. "For the first time in a long time. I'm going to open up my own office again, practice the kind of law I was meant to."
"I'm happy for you, Greg."
He caught her face between his hands and kissed her. "I love you. I never stopped."
"If it's because of Danny--"
"I love Danny. But that's not why I'm here. I'm here because of you. And me. I want us to be a family again. If you'll have me."
"Oh, Greg, if you really mean that ..."
"More than I've ever meant anything in my life."
Prudie wiped a tear from her cheek, not caring if her wing rusted.
"You did a good job, Probationer Prudence. We will overlook that little indiscretion with the voices," Brother Michael said, the twinkle in his eyes belying the stern note in his voice.
Prudie assumed her most innocent expression. "Voices?"
He stretched forth a wing, and the veil separating heaven and earth lifted. "Look."
Prudie watched as the scene unfolded to reveal Danny kneeling beside his bed.
"Thank you for bringing Dad back," Danny prayed in an earnest voice. "He says we're going to be a family again. Him and Mom and me. Mom started crying when they told me, but I didn't mind 'cause they're happy tears. Thanks again." He paused. "Oh, and thank you for the baby rabbit. I'm naming him Rudolph. Amen."
"Amen," Prudie echoed.
"Amen," Prudie echoed.
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed "Prudie and the Christmas Wish."