This is my submission to Writer’s Digest‘s Your Story #23. I completed it in about an hour or so. Normally I like to take my time but the past few weeks have left me with little time for fiction writing.
The prompt is: a couple’s on their first date when something very unusual happens at a table near them.
“Janet” is based on a girl I knew at college.
The Russian Miracle
By Richard Zowie
I sat at the dinner table, nervously sipping water, oblivious of how horrible the tap water tasted. Janet wore a blue dress, her long, curly dark-blond hair cascading down past her shoulders. She smiled, nervous, as if late for an urgent appointment. My attempts at conversation resulted in short answers.
“What does your Dad do for a living?” I asked.
“He’s a pastor.”
“Where did you grow up?”
Even long before our food arrived (she ordered a Cobb salad while I ordered spaghetti and meatballs), I recognized this as a “mercy date.” A beautiful girl goes out with a geeky guy out of pity, hoping he’ll ask her out only once, get the hint during the date and not ask again.
I sighed and tried to hide my disappointment. Janet was very beautiful. When she smiled, dimples appeared on her cheeks. She was about 5’3″ and had bright sapphire-blue eyes. She wasn’t too heavy or too thin.
I first met Janet three years ago at South Texas University’s Baptist Student Union. I’d often see her in the BSU reading her Bible and praying. Finally, I managed the nerve to ask her out. Janet accepted, and we went to the Los Patos Diner, an upscale restaurant in Los Patos, Texas.
As I swallowed yet another glass of water and tried to think of another question to ask, a young girl at the table next to us started groaning and clutching her stomach. She cried and spoke to her father and mother in some foreign language that sounded like Russian. The girl’s cries turned into piercing screams.
I looked at Janet, bewildered. That distant, vacant look was gone and was replaced by deep concern. “Do you know what’s going on?” she asked me.
“I don’t know, but it sounds a little like Russian,” I replied, getting up and going over to their table.
“Can I help you, sir?” I asked, speaking slowly.
He looked at me, his eyes a pale blue, a smile spreading across his round face. His sweaty bald head shined in the overhead lights. “Yes, yes, you can!” he said, speaking English in a Russian accent. “My daughter very sick. She said she has pain near her stomach but to the right of it. She also say it hurt very badly.”
“It sounds like her appendix might be infected,” I said, remembering my nephew, when he was nine, had those exact same symptoms and needed an emergency appendectomy.
I pulled out my cell phone, dialed 911 and called for an ambulance, explaining that a little girl needed to be rushed to the hospital. In five minutes an ambulance arrived and emergency medical technicians took the little girl to the hospital. The father and mother, named Vladimir and Svetlana, thanked me for helping out their daughter Zhanna, their Russian accents growing thicker. The mother hugged me and as they left, she said to me, “Doe svee don ya!”
I returned to the dinner table where Janet was. She stared at me, her mouth locked into a wide red O of surprise. “That was amazing, Kevin!” she said, smiling.
“I know,” I replied. “The little girl apparently has appendicitis, and they’re taking her to a hospital. Everybody in the restaurant just stood there while the father asked for help–”
“I didn’t know you spoke Russian!” Janet interrupted. “Where did you learn it?”
“Learn it? What are you talking about?”
“You spoke a few minutes with that couple and it sounded to me like you were speaking Russian.”
“You’re joking, right?” I asked. “I don’t speak Russian.”
She shook her head. “Kevin, all I could hear was you and the dad speaking Russian. When you first spoke, I heard you say something like ‘Pa-moch’ and ‘goss-puh-deen’.”
I later learned those words meant help and sir.
I shook my head. “Janet, I spoke English to them. As God as my witness, I don’t speak Russian.”
She stared me for a long time. Finally, another smile. “Well, it sounds like I just witnessed something out of the second chapter of Acts.”
“When Peter speaks in one language and people from many other countries hear him in their own language?”
“Yes,” she laughed.
It turned into a nice date that night. I’d needed a miracle to make the date succeed, and that’s just what I’d received.
© Copyright 2010 by Richard Zowie. All rights reserved. May not be republished without permission.