EJ’s Christmas Prayer

Laramie, Wyoming — If serenity could be captured in a picture, the scene of snow falling gently onto the ground would be a good candidate.

If only their lives had been that calm these past two months. Waking up in a hospital room not knowing who he was, watching the redheaded woman who called herself his wife burst into tears when he’d said he didn’t know her, and the kids’ faces when they were told their daddy couldn’t remember them…

Oliver, as he’d been told was his name, peeked inside the baby’s room, where he spotted Natalie rocking…Lily? Laila?

He frowned. He’d remembered his wife’s name, but not his daughter’s. He stepped inside and Natalie looked up as he approached. “Are the other kids in bed?” she asked.

“Almost,” Oliver replied. “One of the boys is still brushing his teeth. I think it’s…um, it’s Ethan?”

A ghost of a smile appeared on Natalie’s face. She nodded, tucking a strand of red hair behind her ear. “He goes by EJ though,” she said. “To avoid confusion because we named him after my dad.”

“Oh. That-that makes sense. What’s the ‘J’ for?”

“James. After my paternal grandfather.”

“Okay.” Oliver glanced at the baby. “Her name starts with an L, right?”

“Yeah. It’s Laila.”

“Thought so,” Oliver said, starting to back out of the room. “I’m, uh, gonna say goodnight to EJ.” He turned from the doorway and had barely stepped into the next room when he heard his son’s voice pipe up.

“Dear God, I know I’ve been saying I want my two front teeth back for Christmas,” EJ said. “But I don’t care about them anymore. Besides, they have to take a while to grow, like Grandpa Robinson said. Now all I want for Christmas is for Dad to have his memories back so he can remember us.”

Oliver swallowed, though it did nothing to dissolve the growing lump in his throat.

“Thank You, Jesus. Amen!”

Peeking inside, Oliver spotted EJ climbing into bed. “Hey,” he said.

EJ looked up, and a wide grin spread across his face. “Hi, Dad! I brushed my teeth for two minutes! Just like you and Mom taught me!”

“That’s good,” Oliver said with a small smile. “You, um, glad you didn’t have two extra teeth to brush?”

EJ thought a moment then shrugged.

“Okay, well…” Oliver sighed. “Goodnight, I guess.” He looked around the room. The other two boys, whose names escaped him, appeared to already be asleep. He lingered for a moment more and asked, “Do you want the door closed?”

“Yeah,” EJ said as he burrowed under his covers. Oliver grabbed the doorknob and started to pull. He paused with the door half-closed. Something was missing…something he needed to say?

“Love you, Dad,” EJ said.

That must be it.

“L-love you too.” Oliver closed the door and stared at it. Talk about awkward. Though EJ hadn’t seemed to notice.

He sighed and turned around, jumping back a step when Natalie turned out to be right behind him. “Uh, h-how long have you been here?”

“Long enough.” She said, her bright blue eyes holding his dark brown with a steady gaze. Something nagged at the back of his mind, giving him the feeling there was something else he should do.

After a moment of slightly uncomfortable silence, Natalie said, “Goodnight, Oliver,” and brushed past him to the room at the end of the hall. He almost followed her but went to the living room instead.

When he’d settled onto the couch, he stared up at the ceiling for what seemed like hours. All he wanted was to remember and at the moment, any memory would do, even if it was an embarrassing one.

What had he been doing the night he was found in those woods on the side of the road?

©H.S. Kylian 2018 // All images © Hannah Killian 2013-2018

(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)

This post was last updated on December 19, 2018

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