Jeremiah Miller had been putting off going to the eye doctor for an uncomfortable period of time. Now that he was reaching the point of everything looking blurry, with or without his glasses on, he knew it was time to go. So, getting on the streetcar he made his way from Dogwood into Sherryton, and into the T-Way optometrists. He walked into the store, eyed the sparklers in a display, and made a mental note to pick some up for the kids on his way out. The T-Way optometrists shop was located in a walled off area of the store, which made it seem far removed from the church of consumerism just a few feet away.
"Hello." The young lady behind the counter, with earrings in both ears and her nose, looked at Jeremiah with a touch of disgust in her blue eyes. "What do you need?" Jeremiah, having been a Wisslerite his whole life, was used to this treatment.
"I'm here for an appointment." Jeremiah declared, "Dr. Coffey."
"She's a woman. You know that, right?" Jeremiah shook his head and laughed.
"God made Adam a help-meet, not a weakling. I know Dr. Coffey's a woman. I am fine with that." The girl behind the counter grunted, but in her eyes there was a change.
"Sit over there," the girl gestured, "and Dr. Coffey will get to you." Jeremiah turned, maybe a touch too quickly, but he'd been a widower for the last 3 years, ever since his beloved Rachel died, and even a whiff of perfume could cause him to break down in uncontrollable sobs. He went over to a chair and, miracle of miracles, found a magazine there, 'Home Life Weekly'. A Wisslerite magazine in an urban setting? This was both comforting and somewhat strange. But he gladly opened it, right to the puzzle section, his favorite, and proceeded to solve the puzzles sans pencil. He was so caught up in solving he failed to notice when Dr. Coffey appeared. She came to where he sat, cleared her throat and began to tap her foot. He lifted his eyes and saw, what with the sunlight streaming in the window and creating a kind of halo, an angel with soft brown curls, piercing blue eyes and a smile that could melt the coldest heart. Jeremiah, struck dumb by her beauty, sat still as a statue and as mute as one too. Dr. Coffey seemed to notice this and sat down next to Jeremiah. The girl behind the reception desk looked shocked.
"Mom! What are you doing?" Dr. Coffey turned to look her daughter square in the eye.
"I'm going to help him. Now go have a candy break." Her daughter happily agreed to this and soon Dr. Debra Deann Coffey and Jeremiah Miller were all alone. Debra, as she would soon be known by Jeremiah and his family, rose to lock the doors. She knew there would be no more patients for the day and so she could help Jeremiah through whatever pain was hiding behind his brown eyes. She could see more than just the physical. "Mr. Miller?"
"Jeremiah. What's wrong? I can tell behind your eyes that something's wrong."
"I'm a widower, have been for 3 years. My beloved Rachel, the mother of my 4 children, died of throat cancer. I thought I could be tough, strive on with just my children's love. But," Jeremiah declared, large tears forming in the corners of his eyes, "I can't. They can't share my bed, my innermost thoughts, my love, the physical kind. I need more than they can give." He looked deeply into Debra's eyes and smiled a sad smile. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be telling you all this. You're a doctor, not a potential life mate. I'm sorry." Debra grabbed his hands and held them gently.
"Don't be. You have nothing to be sorry for. I've been a widow for 8 years now, ever since my Jason died. He was a good man and a great father to Anna." Jeremiah looked towards the door.
"She's your daughter?" Debra nodded.
"Yes. And ever since his death she's been a handful. Where do you live, Jeremiah?"
"Dogwood." Debra's sharp intake of breath, and her happy smile, explained the presence of the 'Home Life Weekly'. She was a fan of the Wisslerite way of life. Well, at least he hoped she was. His days and nights had become so lonely he was nearly ready to give up hope for another chance at happiness. "You've heard of it?"
"Just through your magazines and 'The Diary'. I wish I could visit." Jeremiah's heart felt lighter by the second. The Norris sisters had just renovated their childhood home to open as a bed and breakfast. It would be perfect for her.
"Well, two of our most beloved elder citizens, Freda and Mary Norris, have renovated their house and opened it as a bed and breakfast. They are two sisters who never got married. But they're still loved by one and all."
"Sounds wonderful! Do I have to do anything?"
"Helping with the housework and the chores is optional but most people who've called have that as their number one reason to stay."
"Then it's my number one reason as well." Throwing caution to the wind, and having become lost in her blue eyes, Jeremiah was preparing to go in for a kiss when a loud knock on the outer door startled them both. It was Anna who, with a fist full of bags of candy, looked ready to leave. Debra smiled, got up and let her in. "Anna? Do you want to spend the weekend in Dogwood?" Anna actually smiled at this, having started dating a young Wisslerite man just a few weeks before. And so, with candy, sparklers and happiness in tow, Jeremiah, Debra and Anna headed out to go to Dogwood and a life that would be a change, and a breath of fresh air, for all concerned as their lives would intertwine in such a beautiful fashion.