He skipped back to the porch as a light December rain slowly fell. Meggie's father sat on the steps and opened the envelope containing the photocopied scriptures he was to read Sunday. A neon post-it note adorned the first page: John, I just need you to read them. Thanks. He removed the note and read the first lines from Isaiah the prophet -
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion - to give them a garland instead of ashes.
John Randall had a gift for remembering first lines. Upon seeing Isaiah's, he immediately recalled those from the best-selling book his wealthy sister had sent him: It's not about you. As he looked again at the verses, it seemed like Isaiah might not completely agree, like something was about him -
The spirit...is upon me..the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me...
He then remembered that first line from the best-selling book he'd sent his sister in return: Life is difficult. Isaiah's words seemed to agree: brokenhearted...captives...prisoners... mourn...ashes. The prophet's last word stuck like a bone in the throat - ashes. Meggie's father suddenly had difficulty catching his breath. He had been focusing on the rub of first lines when the gift was in the last word.
The straight-down rain began to blow slant, mingling with his tears to wet the photocopied pages of God's words.
He looked up as the school bus slowed to a stop. John Randall could see his first three daughters walking in frames of windowed glass toward the door. The driver leaned forward to set his captives free. His oldest, Hannah and Jill, milked the three steps down for all their worth, turning and talking and waving and laughing. They never looked up to see their father; entrainment. Hannah's umbrella allowed them a few more turns and waves outside the bus. Meggie, however, had fixed her eyes on him from the moment the bus stilled. She hit the pavement skipping, smiling, covering her head with a book. He stood to greet her, thinking within himself: Meggie's here.