“What does that mean?” Alfred asked.
“I come to announce the promised one. Wait with patience. He will appear when the time is right.”
Alfred wanted to ask more questions, like, “Who are you talking about? Why can’t I see you? Why do you talk in riddles?” But, something in the demeanor of the spirit made him hold his tongue. He stopped trying to catch sight of the—what was it? An angel! “Are you an angel?”
“Do you believe?” Alfred heard the question in his mind.
“Yes, yes of course.”
Without realizing how he got there, he was standing in the mudroom, removing his clothing. “Yes, I believe,” he said again.
“What do you believe?” Agnes asked. “Who are you talking to and why did you change your mind about going outside? Is it too cold for you?” Her tone irritated Alfred.
“I did…” Alfred changed his mind about telling her of the angel. He said instead, “I didn’t want to be late for my shopping trip with Mom. You want a Christmas present, don’t
you?” Agnes coughed. Alfred could hear her shallow, rapid breaths. In a kinder tone he said, “Maybe today I can find something for your collection that I can afford.” Why did she have to be so bossy?
He ran to his room and put the animals on the dresser. The angel was nowhere in sight, but a glow of amber light pulsed around Elsie and the sheep, even after Alfred turned the light off. “Bye, guys. Be good.”
Another unsuccessful shopping trip put pressure on Alfred to find something suitable for his sister’s Christmas present. He already had the wood birdhouse he had made for his father wrapped and under the tree. The special chocolates he and Agnes had made for their mother was hidden in Agnes’ room.
“But, Mom,” he said, “how can I find something she won’t turn her nose up at with the measly amount of money I have left?”
“Use your imagination, Alfred. You’re good at imagining things.”