“Before you go, I’ve got something for you.”

Jan stood with a groan and walked towards the counter dividing the kitchen from the living room.  She moved with an uneven gait from a recent hip replacement. She had a simple mind, dull eyes, and a sweetness that inexplicably drew people to her.

“I should have finished PT, I know.”

She made no excuses but no one had asked for any. Anyways, she wouldn’t have given a straight answer if asked the reason because the answer sat nearby, frowning into a cup of cold coffee.

An oxygen machine clicked in the background and her husband scrutinized Jan with narrowed eyes.

“Careful, watch the tube,” Ted growled as Jan walked towards the counter and yanked at the clear tubing with one hand.

“By the way, coffee’s cold,” he declared with a fierce look at his wife.

While Jan emanated a bovine presence, not from her shape or hygiene, but her gentle spirit, her spouse was like a hawk circling above the field where she grazed.

“Don’t worry, honey. I won’t step on it.”

Tactfully, she ignored his comment about the coffee and smiled, “He always gets so worried about his oxygen.”

Her dull eyes did not smile with the rest of her face. They told of the sacrifices and strategizing of a wife.

Perhaps her mind was not so simple.

To hell with them, Ted scowled in his recliner.

He had other things on his mind.

Namely, his upcoming death.

He was good with Jesus now. Volunteering at the church, helping out at the soup kitchen, mentoring those kids. It was all a part of his life-insurance policy.

I never thought much of buying something I could never use, he mused to himself. There was satisfaction in his investment, soon to pay out, big time.  It was just a matter of time before he was released from his hell on Earth. This body, this woman, this condo. It was all suffocating him to death, which was fortunate.

I bet all this suffering adds to the value of my policy, he thought, as he did a mental computation on number of years of suffering multiplied by amount of good work.

In the midst of Ted’s silent ruminations, as he went over the same thoughts every day, Jan arrived at the counter.

She leaned against it and reached over, producing a perfect, one foot tall Santa Claus in her hand.

“For you. I made them with our church group. There are nine others back here.”

As she offered the gift to me, I considered the tribe of Santa’s hiding behind the counter, and Jan watched for the expression on my face.

Santa stared up at me in his perfect suit and beard with his kind, googly eyes.

Quite naturally, the eyes were not so different from those of his Creator.

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