Chasing Contentment

Monday, December 12

I found the book I've been looking for... in the very last place I thought to look. It was a delightful surprise! Now, a little more of my story...

The Christmas Card by Chel... Part Five
The next morning, Ellie awoke on her Gram's sofa, covered in her favorite quilt. She smiled and stretched, greeting the day slowly. She sat up and pulled her feet up under her, still snuggled under the hand-made quilt.

She and Percy had sat up most of the night talking - crying - about Gram and their lives. After their talk at Mac's, neither of them mentioned anything about any relationship between them, but there was a comfort between them that was only present with old friends.

She hadn't looked around, but she instinctively knew Percy was gone. He sat with her until she fell asleep and then was gone. Ellie wasn't at all sure what - if anything - would happen between them now. But she knew without a doubt that she was supposed to move back into this house, to live in this town and resume the life she knew best.


Peering out the window in the front door, Ellie saw a teenage boy standing on her front porch surrounded by grocery bags.

"Hello?" she asked as she opened the door. "Can I help you? Are you lost?"

"No, ma'am. I'm Mitchell, and I work at Mort's Market. I'm supposed to deliver these to you. I'm also supposed to give you this card," he said as he began to bring the bags into the house. "They said the card would tell you what you need to know."

Ellie stood and watched as the boy carried in bag after bag of groceries and household goods. She tried to tip him as he left but he assured her it had been taken care of already.

Who would send me groceries, she wondered as she sank back into the sofa she spent the night on the night before.

She sat for a moment knowing she should open the card or go put up the groceries or both, but Ellie loved that moment of uncertainty, of anticipation. She felt in an odd way like her future was about to be revealed.

'Of course that's insane,' she said aloud to no one. 'My future cannot be announced like an award show winner by simply reading an envelope. Can it, Lord?'


"Thanks for having me over for dinner. Again. You two have been so kind to me since I moved home, but you've got to stop this. I'm sure you need some time alone to plan your wedding," Ellie said. She was joining Mac and Shelby for dinner for the second time in a week, at their invitation.

"Now you know my mama would have my hide if I didn't invite you over and take care of you," Mac said. "And I like having another girl in the mix," Shelby said. "Some days there's just way too much testosterone around here with Mac and Percy and their buddies."

Ellie laughed, remembering the way Mac and Percy's house had always been full of boys when they were growing up. Their parents had always welcomed one and all.

"Your mama called today, and I'm having dinner at their new house next week. Who knew a death in the family was a ticket to free dinners all over town?"

When neither Mac nor Shelby laughed, Ellie assured them she was fine.

"I've spent the last two weeks going through all of Gram's things. She had mementos of trips and loves that I had no idea she had. She lived this full, rich life, and I'm sure she wouldn't want me to sit in her home and fret or frown. She wouldn't want me to sit here and do that either."

"So I'm making some decisions about how to proceed with my life. I'm praying that God will take me through these choices, shutting doors when necessary and opening others. I'm ready to be living and not just remembering living."

"You've decided, then? What to do?" Shelby asked.

"I believe I have, though I don't want to say just yet. I've still got to do some research. I've taken care of all of the legal issues with Gram's estate, and the house is now mine, along with some other things I wasn't aware of, so I'm looking at some options."

"But what we all want to know," Percy said as he walked into the warm kitchen, "is whether or not you're going to be staying here in town."

"Late and asking none-of-your-business questions again, huh, Perc?" Mac asked. "We were almost going to start dinner without you this time."

"No, you weren't," Percy said, agreeing to the plea in his brother's eye to let things go for now. "You'd never eat without me. Mama would know about it all the way across town."


As they stepped onto Ellie's front porch, Percy opened his mouth to say something and shut it again. Twice he did that. Finally, Ellie asked him inside, figuring she'd rather wait for whatever he wanted to say in front of a fire rather than in the night chill.

"You know Mac and Shelby are getting married on Thanksgiving Day, right?" he began as they settled into the soft sofa.

"Yes. I think that's wonderful. What a lovely thing to spend forever being thankful for," she said.

"Um, yeah," he said uncomfortably. Ellie had never seen him quite so nervous. She leaned over and put her hand on his knee. "What is it you need to say, Percy? Just say it. It's just me... no need to be worried."

"You'd think, wouldn't you?" he asked as he laughed nervously. He took a deep breath and began.

"Ellie, would you do me the honor of being my date for the wedding? I'm in the wedding party, so you would have to sit alone, but we could be at the dinner and reception together. It's all at the Lodge."

Ah, Ellie thought, so that's it. Percy had been a gentleman, holding true to his word to not do anything either of them would regret, that first night or any other night since. He had provided groceries more than once during the first two or three weeks that she'd been at Gram's... those weeks when she lost track of time and did nothing but go through her grandmother's worldly possessions.

He had seen her at dinners at Percy's and at his parents' home and had sat on her pew in church on Sunday mornings. He never sat close enough to be seen as presumptuous but always close enough for her to feel connected to someone. Ellie was reminded of why she loved Percy in the first place, but she was also seeing amazing qualities in him that were new, that she hadn't known before.

"I think I would be the one honored, Percy. I accept."

Percy grinned, and Ellie laughed. Ellie thought about how happy she was to be on this path in life, to be growing closer to the man she had loved for so long.


Later, when Percy was gone and she was ready for bed, Ellie sat in the deep sidechair in the master bedroom and thought about Parker. She knew that had she not loved and married him, she wouldn't be strong enough to be an equal partner in a love with Percy. Parker gave her something at a time that she needed it deeply. Parker gave her independence. Odd, she thought, that one man gave me what I needed to return to another.

--- (to be continued...)

[  posted by Chel on Monday, December 12, 2005  ]


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