Art’s Gift For Mother

On with the Project

Art awoke to discover that the bed clothes had pulled his bandage off. Checking his finger he saw that it was white, wrinkled, and sensitive to the air. Art dressed quickly and headed down the stairs.  The aroma of fresh toast and coffee met him on the way.  He went straight to the kitchen table, where the family was already seated and about to pray. His mother greeted him lovingly and Phyllis scolded him for being late. His father led in a short grace and started the plate of fried ham around the table. As he did, he outlined the chores of the day. To Art he said, “You and I will finish your project and get the tools put away.” Art was delighted at the prospect. Phyllis couldn’t help herself and said to Art, “Oh, you going to remove another finger today?” Her mother gasped, “Phyllis you tell your brother you’re sorry.” Phyllis said, “Sorry.” But everyone knew she was only sorry she got called on her great one liner. Virginia’s appreciation of Phyllis’s dark humor was revealed only by the twinkle in her eyes. Art ate as fast as he could without calling it to his mother’s attention. The meal finished they thanked their mother for preparing it. At a nod from his father Art brought the Bibles from the side table and passed them to their owners. Hank opened his Bible and asked, “Art, where were we reading yesterday?” The question called Art back from his preoccupation with his project. His brain locked in a brain-cramp; he knew he knew but that file cabinet was jammed. His father saw the pained panic on his face and reminded him with, “Merry Christmas”. That clue opened the file cabinet in his brain and as he was about to speak, Phyllis blurted out, “Luke 2” in her ‘goody ‘two shoes’ tone. Art responded angrily, “I was going to say that, Stinky.” Virginia was the only one that even smiled at Art’s retort. His father corrected them both, and read the daily portion of scripture. However, he did not ask any questions about the scriptures this morning, but went right to his prayer list, which he pulled from the front cover of his Bible. They prayed for the needs on the list, which included his grandfather, and Uncle Victor and family for salvation. Art did not know what his dad meant when he talked about salvation and being “born again”. He wanted to ask but thought it would only keep him from his project in the shop, so he said nothing. His father pushed back from the table, then picked up his dishes and carried them to the sink. Art followed his example. His mother and father embraced and kissed. Art thought, “Hey we are just going to chores, it’s just right over there across the yard.” His mother hugged Art and admonished, “Be careful boys.’,” then said to Art, “Let me see your finger.” Art held it out. Phyllis spun around and stuck her face close to Art’s finger. Phyllis was to have the last word in this exchange. She drew back in mocking horror and exclaimed dramatically. “That is really ugly, Stumpy! ”

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