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Puddles formed all over the streets as the spring air sought to melt any remaining snow left from winter’s last storm. Gutters filled and drains dripped with a steady note of anticipation of warmer days to come. A small cluster of purple flowers were beginning to bloom at the corner just down the street from Abagail’s home. Just before them stood a large snow bank that was stubbornly residing in spite of the bluing skies and warming air. It had mounded up against the exterior wall of an abandoned home that many on the street contended to either be haunted or a home for vagrants. It was of course neither, having often been empty other than supplying temporary refuge for a few rebellious teens. 

Abagail was aware of the snow bank having fallen over into it a few days prior. This allowed her mind to conveniently drift from whatever it was she would find herself thinking of to the menacing thought of the snow bank each time she passed it for work. She was a nurse at the local city hospital and was fortunate enough to live a short walking distance away. This morning seemed to be no different than any other. A dreadful Tuesday had reared its ugly head for many as it was not even half way through the work week, however for Abagail it did not matter, her schedule was often changing and that particular Tuesday happened to be in her case, a Friday. With three days off looming over the workday she arose spritely and with purpose to take on the day. 

Perhaps another fortunate outcome of Abagail’s life had been her acquiring of the home in which she resided. It was her Grandfather’s. After obtaining the nursing position in the city her mother and aunt had both agreed that it suited Abagail’s needs best and they relinquished it to her. Abagail had often pondered their decision as it was not common in their family to be so freely providing. The Egan’s were a proud family and believed in hard work and earning one’s pleasantries. Her grandfather had left Ireland as a young man and made something of himself after arriving in Philadelphia with hardly a jacket to cover his back. Yet, as Abagail grew older she would often fall upon the greatest of luck whenever it was sorely needed. 

She could recall countless examples of this luck and would often stray away from productive thought to linger on the ridiculousness of them. Once, at the age of twenty two she had been set to miss a final exam due to a long night of revelry only to discover that an unforeseen snowstorm had caused campus to close. There was also the time when she had forgotten to pay the rent just as the landlord had seemingly forgotten to ask for it. She almost never lost her keys, she would always seem to have things in her handbag that were needed by those with her; mints, pens or even a magnifying glass. She would never have any recollection of having placed these items in her bag in the first place. There was no doubt that Abagail Egan was quite a lucky woman. 

Abagail again found herself considering her luck while fixing herself a bit of eggs and toast for breakfast. She had been lucky enough to secure a short day shift for her last day before her slew of off days and she was seeing fit to have a night out with the anticipation of there being no need to rise early the following day. After eating and tossing on a light jacket and scarf she set off to work. The air was noticeably warmer and she considered that she perhaps did not need the jacket, nevertheless she strolled on. She passed an old couple enjoying the fresh air from their porch as well as a few children playing in the street on their way to the school bus. She found herself day dreaming of drinks outside at a local pub that was sure to open their outside seating on a day like today. A smile bloomed on her face as she made to round the corner by the snow bank. 

Perhaps that happy morning and gleeful walk could have sufficed her desire to avoid thoughts of the snow bank, however, a small squeaky voice saw to it that it was in fact not. 

“Leave it, ye eejit!” The voice was clear and had come from the snow bank to her left. She stopped but did not turn. She was taken back by the nature of the voice. It was shrill and squeaky and yet it had almost seemed amplified. After a moments contemplation she turned to seek its source. There was no one there. The snow bank was slouching in the sun and the purple flowers seemed to be much taller and brighter than they had been the previous day. She wheeled around and surveyed the street. She was hoping to confirm the source of the voice from a passerby or perhaps a small child she did not see. There was no one. The nearest possible source was two old men strolling away from her up the street across the intersection. They were much too far away to have made the sound. Abagail found herself inspecting them longer than she had intended. They seemed to be dressed out of time, both wearing dusty old brown suits sporting Jeff caps and wool scarves. As she stared on one of them turned back and locked eyes with her. He simply smiled and gave her a short nod and a tip of his cap before turning back to his friend. 

Having become thoroughly confused, Abagail turned her attention back to the snow bank hoping to gleam some sort of sanity in the situation. This of course did not happen. Abagail just then noticed something quite peculiar sticking out of the snow bank near its peak. It appeared to be a small pewter pot of some sort, almost like a cauldron. It was partially concealed by the melting snow but most of its open top was visible. It was ultimately what was inside the small black pot that caught her eye. Within its black confines, brimming at the top to the point of toppling over, sat a heaping mound of gold coins. 

She was awestruck. She could not believe it. The astonishment she felt faded into elation but quickly jetting left towards an overwhelming feeling of ridiculousness. She laughed allowed. She walked over to the snowbank minding her step as the exposed ground was quite slippery with saturated earth and pockets of deep mud. She heaved herself up on the snow and peered down at the shimmering gold before her. She laughed again, “Where the hell’s the rainbow?” She spoke aloud as she laughed and smiled. She turned to look around, the street was now virtually empty. Should she take it? How heavy was it? The second internal question made her laugh again. She supposed that it clearly answered the former one. The small pot was equipped with iron handles on either side that could rotate freely. She gripped them and heaved the lot from the snow with one great effort. She almost toppled backwards down the mound before catching her balance by pressing a foot firmly into the crumbling snow. She clambered back down to the mud and stood there holding the pot in front of her chest. She looked around almost seemingly inviting someone to see her. Still, there was no one around, no one to see her or perhaps judge her for what she was about to do next. 

Abagail knelt down and emptied the contents of the pot into her handbag. She quickly and quite messily scooped the purple flowers out of the earth with some mud and soil and tossed them into the pot. She scurried back up the street towards her front door and placed the pot at her doorstep as a decorative piece. She then turned and walked back towards the snow bank. As she passed it she grasped some melting snow in her hands and used it to rub them clean. After a short stint of drying her hands on her scrubs she was off to work with a bag full of gold and a lingering smile residing on her face. 

The hospital lobby was in a frenzy. Abagail had of course had a positively peculiar morning but the onslaught of work was sure to damper the mood. She crammed into a crowded elevator and ascended to her floor. The doors opened to reveal an even more ravenous scene. Before having a chance to settle in her friend Petunia Peterson had dropped a mound of files in her arms. 

“And that’s just the start of it.” Petunia scoffed as Abagail met her gaze with one of sheer bewilderment. The hospital seemed to be going mad. The lobby had been a bit more crowded than usual but this did not seem to be the source of the commotion. As she settled herself at the desk she was able to better ascertain the point of frenzy. What seemed to be a news crew was at the end of the hall. A cameraman and anchorwoman were standing just outside of the last room on the left. 

“What’s all this?” Abagail asked Petunia as she walked back around the desk. 

“You know that writer woman and her husband, the ones that came in last week with their son.” Petunia almost seemed too busy to be bothered. Her frustration was clearly not directed at Abagail and yet she seemed to receive it all the same. 

“The one that flew in to have the procedure?” Abagail was genuinely concerned. A week prior Jessica Roland, one of Abagail most cherished authors had flown to Philadelphia to receive a special treatment for her son who had been diagnosed with a rare auto immune disorder. The hospital that Abagail worked at was the only one in the country that utilized the trial program that the child needed. Jessica and her husband were decently well off on account of her writing success but in the past year they had both emptied their savings and most of their worth into their son’s health. Abagail had been feeling better about the whole situation since they had arrived. The boy was going to get the treatment he needed and all was to be well. Abagail had taken some time earlier in the week to introduce herself to Jessica and her family. The experience was both wonderful and heartbreaking as she learned about the family’s misfortune. She was happy to help in anyway. She turned back to Petunia.

“What’s happened to them? Is the boy okay?” Abagail stood to help Petunia with some files, her attention clearly set on awaiting Petunia’s answer.

“They’ve cut funding for the program. Apparently it’s shown little traction with only one patient to speak of. It’s over, and apparently that’s news worthy.” And with that Petunia stormed off. She left Abagail standing there in a sort of haze of bewilderment and sorrow. She could not believe that this was happening. That child needed help and this hospital was the place to offer it. All of this over some money, not even lack of but simply a reallocation of funds. She couldn’t stand for it. She marched down the hall after Petunia.

“Who’s on them this morning?” Petunia barely turned to answer.

“Ashley called out. You are.” And with that she was gone again. Abagail let the information pour over her. She had been assigned to the Roland family. She turned and walked sheepishly towards the room. What would she say? How could she console them after what they had just learned? As she grew nearer the anchorwoman approached her. She must have asked for a sort of statement or something, Abagail could hardly hear a thing. She was focused, set on the insurmountable challenge of finding the right words that the situation clearly demanded. Each step was like pulling against a boulder lodged deep within the earth. She could not do it. She had no idea what to say. And then, as quick as a flash and an unforeseen giggle she smiled as she turned into the room.

“Abagail, how are you? We were hoping to see you before we left. Thomas wanted to say goodbye.” Jessica was sitting beside her son who was laying out in the bed. He seemed to be in good spirits. They both were attempting to ignore Thomas’ father who was across the room engaged in a heated argument with a doctor that had presumably drawn the short stick having earned the obligation of providing them with the bad news. 

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.” Abagail’s smile was unavoidable. The whole room noticed it. Even the doctor and Mr. Roland turned after hearing what she had said. She grinned a moment longer and then opened her mouth to speak. 

“You know, I always seem to have just what someone needs in my handbag. If you’ll just give me a moment I think I can help.” She almost leapt from the doorway as she turned to race back to the desk. In the busy turmoil of her arrival she had almost completely forgotten that her handbag was currently full of gold. She went as fast as her legs would carry her. She would show the Roland’s the gold, she would explain that it was perhaps her Grandfather’s, left to her. She would fund the program and Thomas would get his much needed treatment. She rounded on the desk and gripped the bag firmly in her hands. As she turned to head back to the room there was a voice that interrupted her assault against the hospitals heartless bureaucracy. 

“ ‘scuse me? Wondered if I might have a word?” She almost completely ignored the man before shooting him a quick glance. This was all she needed. She recognized him as plainly as an old friend. It was the old man that she had seen that morning. The one that had tipped his hat to her. The same hat that he now respectfully gripped in his hands at chest level.

“How can I help you?” Her words were instinctive and allowed her to remain shocked by the situation. 

“I just wanted to say, you are quite a lucky girl, aren’t you?” And with this he smiled and turned to leave. Abagail was petrified on the spot. She had no words to offer him, not even to stop him from leaving. She turned to survey her surroundings, perhaps to confirm that they were all real. And then, like a cold shower she was shocked back to reality by the weight of her handbag. She turned to head back down the hall towards the Roland’s room. 

Just before turning into the room to deliver the good news she stole one last glance towards the desk where the old man had been standing. He was not there, but in her stride, just before rounding the corner into the room, she could have sworn that she saw a small man not but twelve inches tall waving to her from the end of the hall, smiling as he flopped his green Jeff cap neatly atop his head. 

March 28, 2020 20:32

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1 comment

Graham Kinross
06:21 Jun 26, 2022

Great story Tyler. Awesome start to your Reedsy profile.


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