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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 23 August 2009 - 4:30pm. | | | |

Where Two Or More Are Gathered
(C) Steven G. O'Dell

Marvin awoke suddenly with the rattling of his screen door. He snorted and attempted to sit up from his bed, but fell back again with a muffled groan and sigh. Who could it be that was disturbing his afternoon nap? And why did they have to do it today, of all days, when he had been having such a good dream? He could almost smell the scent of the home-baked chocolate chip cookies that his mother used to make. And many years later, he'd finally gotten his wife to the point where she could duplicate the recipe--just a hint of cinnamon that made it a prize-winner. Too bad Marjorie was gone now. What a team "Marv and Marge" had been. Everyone said so.

With another seemingly superhuman effort, Marvin achieved the upright position and pushed his feet into his slippers, grabbed his cane and began the long walk to the front door. Past the pictures of family members and friends in the hallway, through the living room that had so many wonderful thoughts attached to it, and finally to the front door. He could see through the sheer blind and large glass pane that no one was there, but something was hanging on the handle of the screen door. Marvin pursed his lips and gathered his brows together in puzzlement.

The old door creaked mildly as it opened, still needing the oil that Marvin had been promising to give it for the last fifteen years. Sure enough, there hung a plastic bag from the handle of the screen door--and the most wonderful aroma struck Marvins' nose so that he nearly gasped in delight and amazement. It was unmistakably the cinnamon and chocolate chip cookies he had just been dreaming about. How was this possible? And beyond that, they were still warm, as though they had but moments before come from the oven.

Marvin buried his nose in the bag and inhaled deeply...and held his breath as long as he could, until he let it out only to repeat the process. What a blessing it was to have his dream come true. But how could it be? Marvin bit into the first cookie and moaned aloud with delight, then laughed at his own response. It was involuntary, but said more about his approval than mere words could ever convey. If it were possible, these were better than any cinnamon chocolate chip cookies he had ever before eaten, and that was certainly saying something, because he had eaten the best up until now.

It was following two more cookies that Marvin got back to the task of deciding who might have done such a thing. It was only right that they should be properly thanked for their kindness. But there was no identifying information on the note included, except to say "Enjoy". And that he certainly had done, and would do again later.

Opening the screen again, Marvin walked out onto his porch and surveyed the neighborhood with the eye of an eagle--at least as close to that as a man his age could do. He finally decided that perhaps it was the widow across the street that might have done such a thing. He wasn't sure, but he couldn't think of anyone else in the neighborhood that could have ever known of his love for such cookies. She was the only one that Marge had been really close to in the neighborhood. Well, he would just have to make the trip over there and thank her personally.

About this time, Naida's attention was caught by something that zipped past her window and cast a shadow upon her as she sat reading in her old over-stuffed chair. Setting her book aside and rising slowly from her seat, she made her way to the door and opened it to see if someone was there...just as Marvin arrived on her doorstep and bearing a small bouquet of roses from his backyard garden.

"Well, hello there!", she exclaimed as she stepped onto her porch to join her visitor. "What beautiful roses. Did you grow them yourself?"

"Why, yes, I did."

"Roses are my favorite and these are my favorite color."

"Well, then you're in luck, because these are for you."

Naida's eyes opened wide in surprise and delight as Marvin handed the bouquet to her and she sniffed deeply at the blossoms in her hand. She thought how each variety had not only its own look and color, but each its own fragrance, as well.

"These are wonderful! To what do I owe the pleasure? I can't think of anything I've done recently to deserve this." She laughed softly and Marvin chuckled at her playfully coy attempt to disguise the kindness she had offered him.

"It seemed like a neighborly thing to do, so I did it. And perhaps you'd like to share with me some absolutely amazing cookies that magically appeared at my door." He held aloft the bag and nearly winked as he said this. Two could be playfully coy, after all.

"Oh, that would be lovely. Do come in."

The afternoon was a true joy for both Marvin and Naida. They laughed and shared stories of their youth, stories of their years with their spouses and stories of their hopes and dreams. Both had expressed how they found it hard to be alone and that this had been a real blessing to have enjoyed the company of one so cheerful.

Looking out the window, Marvin realzed the shadows were lengthening and he stood to thank Naida and excuse himself for the evening.

"We'll have to do this again soon, but next time in my home, alright?"

"That would be wonderful." Naida knit her brow in a perplexed look. "Isn't it strange that we never really talked much before? I so enjoyed your company. And thank you for the lovely roses."

"Thank you for the outstanding cookies." This time he did wink at her.

Naida thought he was joking and simply giggled appreciatively. Neither of them had seen the smiling man who had left the cinnamon chocolate chips cookies at Marvin's door and had later left a small, blue-covered book, wrapped with care, on both Naida's and Marvin's doorsteps, then leaving quickly and quietly to carry out his next assignment.

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