Wanderers- 2

Note: This spring, 2020, during the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, I found myself with a lot of at-home time. During that time this story was completed. There are 12 sections to this story that will be posted starting December 26, ending on January 6, the day of Epiphany. “Wanderers” can also be found in my book “My Best Christmas and other stories of the season” at Amazon.com.


The continuing Saturday morning drizzle provided a dreary, wet greeting as Ruby and her grandfather Thomas welcomed a new day. The day’s sun, low in the sky, shyly hiding behind sheets of low, gray clouds, didn’t add much to the promise that awaited them. However, Thomas would have none of that. He added his own sunshine. “This is the day that the Lord has made.” Thomas croaked out a line from a song he’d learned in Sunday school long ago.

“Grampa?” said Ruby as she tried to focus through the sleepy haze still permeating her twelve year old brain that drippy morning. She resisted her grandpa’s bright outlook and embraced the gloom, milking it for all it was worth.  “Grampa?  Wha-a-a…?”

 “Good morning, Sunshine!!”  With a knock on her bedroom door and a song, Thomas Start, grandfather of Ruby Jensen, made a feeble attempt at morning irony as he greeted his I’d-rather-be-sleeping-in, granddaughter.

Ruby’s parents, Thomas’ daughter Meira and son-in-law Ben, were away for the weekend. Thomas offered to keep Ruby safe, warm, fed and occupied while they were gone.  To that end, that morning Thomas would be fitting Ruby into his early Saturday morning routine of breakfast at the diner. 

“Where are we going so early?  It’s Saturday!” she said.

With a perky grin, Thomas said, “The diner.”  Ruby tried rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “I know, I know… You’re not used to getting up before, what is it, noon on Saturday?” Thomas said.  “These are the best hours of the week. Besides, this is for breakfast, the most important meal of the day.” Thomas grinned at a sleepy Ruby, her red hair flattened by her nighttime battle with her pillow.

It wasn’t long and both of them were ready to face the day after some coaxing, prodding and putting in more effort than Thomas was used to expending.  Ruby grabbed her hat, an ancient Red Sox hat that Thomas had given her once when they were playing ball in the backyard.  Old and faded with a dime sized splotch of red paint on the bill, Ruby crammed her hat over her unruly red hair and Grampa crammed his Cubs hat over what was left of his barely there hair.  In the dark living room they slipped past the sparkling Christmas tree topped with a bright star that gave them all the light they needed to proceed.  

Thomas grabbed the keys to the old pickup from the hook by the back door.  They tossed on their jackets, walked out the door, waded through the puddles and piled into the pickup parked next to the house.  They poked along in the early morning gloom and headed to the diner that was Thomas’ Saturday morning spot for breakfast, coffee, conversation and companionship.

The windshield wipers kept pace with the morning drizzle. The beat of the country Christmas tunes blaring from the truck’s radio didn’t deter a groggy Ruby, face plastered against a steamy window, from trying to grab a few more minutes of sleep. Glancing at Ruby, Thomas’ smile expressed deep gratitude for her and how she came to be in his life. Buried beneath the smile was the knowledge that it wasn’t always that way. Things could have been a lot different. A lot different.

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