Michael Paul Stephenson

Sometimes fate, luck and love all collide. Once the wreckage is cleared away, often times what is left is hope... and a story. After all the tears have been shed everyone finds that their prayers have been answered in ways they could never have expected.
Zack is a kind, well-meaning young man; his wife Chloe is the same. The love they share is radiant and warm, evident in the soft and playful moments between them. One morning, Chloe tells Zack about a dream she had. She dreamt she was buying oranges from a young Hispanic woman but one of the oranges was bruised and unsightly. The woman offered to replace the blemished orange with a beautiful one despite Chloe’s in-sistence that she was happy with the imperfect orange. Zack is inattentive to her story until she mentions one important detail …in her dream she was very pregnant. Zack smiles hopefully.

All Zack and Chloe want is a baby to call their own but despite their attempts they find themselves looking at one negative pregnancy test after another. With Chloe’s dream on his mind, Zack heads down to the market to buy some things for breakfast. After reading a headline at the register about a teenager throwing a baby in a dumpster and reflecting on how unfair life can be, he crosses paths with Isabella, a young pregnant Hispanic woman. She is the same woman Chloe bought the oranges from in her dream but Zack couldn’t possibly know that. When the cashier callously informs Isabella that they don’t take checks, Isabella is unable to pay when, graciously, Zack offers to pur-chase her groceries.

A grateful Isabella insists on repaying Zack, but he tells her it’s no big deal. “What goes around comes around,” he says.

Soft spoken, earnest, and caring, Isabella has found herself in a brutal world that she can hardly bare to bring a child into. After lugging the heavy grocery bags up a flight of stairs she is roughed up by Jesus, her drunk boyfriend. Her groceries fall to the floor and a single orange rolls towards his feet. It is the same blemished orange from Chloe’s dream. “You can’t even buy a decent orange! “ yells Jesus. He throws the blemished orange at Isabella’s face and orders her to return to the street and sell her oranges. The yelling and abuse from Jesus finds us hoping for a better life for Isabella and her unborn child. Isabella quietly sobs in the stairwell of her apartment as she prays for an angel to carry her unborn daughter away.

Leroy wouldn’t call himself an angel. As the narrator of our story we learn that he is the deliveryman for a take-out place that guarantees “under twelve minutes or it’s free.” Muttering this motto under his breath, Leroy speeds along a busy street towards the same corner, where a very pregnant Isabella stands selling her oranges. Leroy races the clock. Suddenly, with a look of panic, Leroy slams on the breaks - his life comes to a screeching halt.

It is Leroy that serves as the chaotic messenger of divine will. The universe is a mael-strom of events, some happy, some sad. Sometimes we even get our prayers an-swered and if we do…we may never see it coming.

Leroy, Zack, Isabella, Chloe... none of them ever saw it coming.

Copyright 2006 Michael Paul Stephenson
All Rights Reserved