Amber shifted Babygirl to her other hip as Meg opened the front door.
A deer-stalker capped fellow turned on the sidewalk. He clutched a package against his navy blue coat. “Oh, you’re home.”
“And you’re not the fire department.” Meg stepped out of the smoky haze onto the threshold. She glanced over her shoulder. “Can you push that open a bit wider?”
“Sure.” After nudging the door against the foyer wall, she followed Meg into the brisk air.
The man glanced from the package label toward the homeowner. “It’s addressed to a Megan Standover. She here?”
“That’s me.” She accepted the package, turning it side to side. “I didn’t order anything, though.”
“Who do you work for?” Amber stretched her neck and peered beyond the stranger. A small pickup truck idled at the curb. “Who delivers on Thanksgiving day?”
He pushed his dark-rimmed higher on his nose. “Normally, I wouldn’t on a holiday. But this was a very special request. The young lady ordered it over a year ago and insisted we bring it today.”
Meg’s body trembled, the package quaking in her hands. Her lips parted, quivering a moment before she uttered her question. “W-who ordered this?”
“She looked so frail.” The man gazed away, in the direction of vanishing smoke wisps. “But still so cheerful and determined. I couldn’t say no. I don’t think anybody could’ve refused that girl, especially after she walked all that way to get to our shop. She paid in small bills and coins. Put your name on the order. I don’t recall if she told me hers.”
Meg swallowed hard. Her uneven fingernails dug into the craft paper wrapping. “What is it?”
He shook his head. “The girl insisted I only say two things at delivery. First, it is important someone open it. And second, follow the instructions.”
“Look, Sherlock.” Amber strode past the grieving mother into a damp, icy gust. “Put it together. Can’t you see why this is hard for her?”
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t forgive myself if I betrayed her wishes.” He retreated to the driveway. “If you could’ve seen her eyes.”
“Hey, wait, you!” She pursued him a few steps. Babygirl shivered, so Amber halted to wrap both arms around her and draw her soft, fleshy form against her chest.
“Everyone’s always saying they’re sorry.” Meg’s sorrow-cracked voice floated toward her on the wind. “Never mind. I get it. I’ve faced that little girl’s eyes. Begging to walk the neighborhood in the snow.” She shuffled back up the walkway. “Come on in. Get your little angel out of the cold.”
Angela wriggled a hand free and grabbed at a swirling white fleck. “Snow?”
“Yes, Babygirl.” She shuffled inside after the hostess, keeping a few yards’ distance.
The package thudded onto the dining room table.
Angela opened her palm and pouted. “All gone.”
“Shh!” Amber sat with Babygirl and took her tender palm.
She pointed to the wet spot on Angela’s hand. “See? Not gone, but it’s water now.”
Meg turned her gaze from the mystery package to her guests. Her faint words glided like the final wisps of smoke vanishing from the air. “Go ahead and eat.” She ambled out of the room. “Be right back.”
“Where are you going?”
“Have to get something,” she said from beyond the doorway. “To open the package.”
“‘What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” ( 1 Corinthians 2:9-10).