Creamed - Page 47

So if it’s a patient in the hospital or a neighbor, I guess I’m hard-wired to help. It’s what I do.

I kiss Mandy and little Max goodbye and make it to our nearest neighbor, about a half-mile away, to find him feeling better by the time I arrive.

I give him a thorough examination, and although he’s okay now, I’d like to see him in a hospital for some observation.

“Sheriff's going to the city this afternoon, Clyde,” I inform him. “I know he’ll give you a ride there and back. I can call ahead and set up some tests too. You’ll be home by supper,” I assure him.

I’m glad when he agrees, not only because I get to head home but also grateful I still keep in touch with my old coworkers.

Mark Chandler still asks me at least every other week when I’m coming back to work. And he didn’t scoff at the idea of a country practice.

In fact, he’s offered to invest in it himself. “Plenty of us are looking for a change, Foxx,” he reminded me. Watering that kernel of ‘maybe’ for a one-day clinic that might help service the place we now call home.

Once old Clyde is set with his hospital date, I head home. Slowing some as I reach the crest of a hill to take in the view of our place.

It took longer than I thought it would to build, but it’s home for us now.

Not quite finished, but I don’t think it ever will be.

Not with all the life and love Mandy and I want to bring to the place.

It’ll have a new room or loft whenever we need it. Making more room as we go as our family grows.

I’d like to see the same for the fields surrounding the house, growing our own food and keeping a barnyard of animals for the kids. All hedged in by woodland, and I can’t wait to take us hiking there once Max is a little older.

Pulling up out front, Mandy comes out to greet me. Little Max in her arms.

“Dada!” he squawks, making me freeze on the spot. Wondering if I just heard him right.

“Did he just say…?” I ask, but Max has said his first real word, and he knows his mommy and daddy are proud of him. Pleased to hear it.

“His first word. I think he means daddy,” Mandy notes, but he’s doing pretty well for his first word.

“Good boy, Max!” Mandy and I praise him, and I rush to hug both of them.

Pressing my lips to my son’s tiny head and then to my wife’s lips.

“Good thing I came back when I did. I might have missed it,” I tell Mandy.

Both of us press our heads together, sharing this precious moment. Already wondering how long it’ll be before Max can learn a new word.

Later that night, once Max has said his first word so much that he’s tired himself out early, Mandy has an idea.

“Why don’t you go into general practice, Foxx?” she murmurs to me, fighting off sleep as we snuggle in bed, little Max in his crib next to our bed.

“There’s enough room here. You could set your own hours –.”

“I thought coming out here was to get away from all that?” I ask her, cutting her short and only feeling defensive because it’s something that’s been on my own mind for so long.

“So many people out here still need a doctor, Foxx,” Mandy continues. “You can heal more hearts than you know. And not with an operation like that. Sometimes all people need is a kind word. Someone to tell them they’re okay. Or like you did with Clyde today…making sure he gets to a hospital to get checked out.”

We lie in silence for a long time. Her breathing is slow and regular, and I figure she’s gone to sleep.

Leaning down to kiss her goodnight, I know she’s right.

Mandy’s always right. That’s what I love about her.

“I think you’re right, Mandy,” I whisper. “What did I ever do to deserve you and Max?” I wonder aloud.

“You were and still are the most amazing man I know, that’s what,” she replies dreamily, making me smile.

I feel my heart catch when she says things like that.

“Oh, and you’ve got another patient in the morning. Some crazy woman who lives close by…needs her feet rubbed,” she mumbles.

“I’ll be there,” I assure her, kissing her head again.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I rasp, squeezing her body closer as I settle down to sleep myself.

“I think she might be pregnant again, too,” Mandy sighs, snapping me wide awake from half-sleep.

“You think?” I ask Mandy excitedly, swelling with pride when she nods her head, her hand reaching for mine and placing it over her belly.

“I’m pretty certain,” Mandy whispers, still sleepy. “But you can see her in the morning. She’s not going anywhere.”

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