“Help me to love, Lord, others in my life, the people around me, to not take them for granted and to try harder to see past their foibles and the things that trouble us.”
Daniel Martin didn’t close his eyes; he always had them open during prayer, Linnie was observing. She tightened her pious clasp and felt the ache in her joints. But she felt good today, relatively good and easy. The church from across the road had come earlier than usual, and brought with them several plates of the church craft, a nice surprise considering she had been planning marmalade, toast and beans again.
She lightly tapped Daniel’s knee and pointed to the young negro man from the church, a prompt for Daniel to start paying attention and offering praise to God, for so they were now; praising God. Daniel Martin sneered, baring his teeth, though passively and acceptingly, rousing himself from some gloomy thought.
“Oh how abundant is your goodness,” all repeated, including Daniel, “which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind.”
The young man, eyes closed, shook his head gently as he said the words, frowning, savouring and personalising the words he had memorised.
In the dining area Daniel dragged his feet and nearly passed her table when she held a hand out to him. He stopped, considering his options for a moment before taking a seat and sipping his coffee.
“Not a bad spread,” he said in his usual manner, as though it were bad news, as bad as it was expected.
“Not a bad day,” said Linnie.
“I have more energy today, I think.”
“Hallelujah,” Daniel said dryly through the corner of a waffle.
“You’re negative,” said Linnie, half-jokingly, afraid through her indignation of a confrontation with the old bull.
“There are two options,” said Daniel, focussing on his food. “Your thyroid has miraculously, overnight, healed, or the immaterial part of you is preparing for liftoff. The countdown has begun.”
“Tell me about this second option.” Linnie had to suspend her doubt with Daniel, pretend more importantly that he was referring to someone else—it was the only way to maintain her health when entering into a conversation like this and get through the day. There were three Daniel’s at Rolling Meadow’s (maybe four—she barely saw Dr Julian anymore around there and was as confident that his given name was Darrell or Stanley as it was Daniel). Daniel Martin was the worst of them.
“You are gathering at this very moment, unbeknownst to you, energy from around you through the soles of your feet, into your legs, through your hands and other places, and its all swarming into an electrical centre located here—” he poked his gut with a finger, just below his navel. “That’s doing wonderful things with the other electrical centres, like the one here and here,” he said, reaching across the table to touch her sternum, the point between her eyes. “What you’re feeling now is only a taste of the insanity that will follow—everything is set to overflow, charge up. Permanent exit,” he said.
Linnie laughed and began to eat the small pieces of steak she had been preparing. Daniel had seen terrible things his whole life long, and survived atrocities.
“It’s not all about death, Daniel Martin,” she said, laughing again.
“No,” said, frowning, smiling—ironically or not she never knew. “It’s not about death at all.”