"I was actually thinking about getting involved in Church work again, maybe volunteering or something, something to repay for this."

"First of all, you've got nothing to repay. Like I said before, this wasn't supposed to happen. Second, if you're thinking you ought to do something for God, just remember, he doesn't live in a Church, doesn't practice a religion, and most of the time, doesn't even care if you believe in Him or not. It's more about how you live your life and what you do with it than whether or not you go to Church on Sunday that matters the most. There's atheists in heaven you know. Bit of a shock for them I guess, but they're there. There's also some serious bible thumpers that are nothing more than two-faced liars. Trust me, those clowns are not in heaven. Got a special place for them and from what I hear, it ain't too pleasant. Don't know that I really want to find out either."

She laughed a little. "OK then, maybe I will go back home and teach."

"Sounds like a good idea, but don't just do it because I said so. Make sure it's what you really want to do. And by the way, it's OK to be wrong about this. I mean, you don't have to do this for the rest of your life you know. You can change your mind. People like your parents and grandparents got a job out of school and did it for the rest of their lives. Don't think you will."

"You almost sound as if you know the future," she said. "Do you?"

He smiled and laughed. "Ain't no fortune teller, but I do know people a bit, know who they are I guess. You're on the right track now. Things will work out. Might hit a few bumps and potholes in the road. Might get lost once in a while."

"If I do, will you help me?"

"Of course I will. It's part of what I got to do. It's what I'm here for."

He stood up as if to leave. "Young man's going to be here in a moment. Nobody you know yet, so it's best I disappear now."

"Will I see you again?"

"Of course you will."

He vanished with a knock on the door. "I'm looking for Emily Barnes," said the young man. She had seen him around campus off and on over the years and not paid any attention to him. He seemed to be the typical computer geek and horribly shy.

"Nobody here by that name," she said standing by the door for perhaps the first time.

"Very odd. I was told to come here by a man in a cowboy hat. Said Emily had a computer that wasn't working and I offered to fix it. Said it was very important. Even gave me fifty dollars in advance."

'Man in a cowboy hat?' she wondered to herself. "Come on in and use my phone and computer if you want to track her down."

"You sure you don't mind?"

"Not at all."

He came inside and sat down at her computer. "I'd call 411 except she probably has an unlisted number but I know how to hack into the phone company's files easily enough," he explained a moment later.

"Didn't I see you in class in a wheel chair?" he asked looking up a moment later.

"Yes, I was paralyzed from the waist down but as you can see, I'm walking now. It's a strange story."

He merely nodded and looked at the computer again. "Very odd but there's no Emily Barnes around here and she's not enrolled in the University. Odd, but the man didn't seem like the type to pull a prank on me."

As he used her computer for a few minutes, she paused and wondered if she shouldn't try and look Tom up on the internet and then decided against it. She really did not have enough information to do a proper search. Sure, she knew he had been in a car accident that killed his wife and two daughters a short time before she met him that August afternoon, but that was all she really knew. She wasn't sure where the accident happened or really even when either. In the end, she realized that there were some things she would just have to take on faith and believe in and she believed in Tom. She was walking again. It really didn't matter to her how he came to be wherever it was that he was.

She chatted politely for a few minutes with the young man and then he smiled and said, "You know, I could use something to eat. Why don't you and I go and get a burger or something?" He was very nervous about asking her. He thought her very cute and unlikely to accept but she smiled and said, "Yes, I think that would be nice."

She wondered if this was the man for her. Was Tom setting things up or just offering her a brief choice for a while? Then again, did it matter? It was only an offer of dinner, nothing more or less.

Saturday morning was flurry of activity. She was almost petrified. The day before there had been a rehearsal for the graduation and she had politely informed the people running it that she would not need special arrangements for her wheelchair. She would be sitting and walking like everyone else.

In cap and gown, she waited for her name to be called. Sitting next to a stranger, she looked around, not only for her proud and amazed parents, but for Tom, knowing that only she could see him.

She followed the lines and cues and walked slowly up to the podium, took her diploma as her name was announced and made her way back down to her uncomfortable chair. As she did, she looked up into the audience and closed her eyes. She could see him clearly, sitting there, smiling, beaming as if he was a proud parent.

The next couple of days were another whirlwind. She barely had time to slow down and think. She packed up her belongings and with her brother in the van, drove back to her parent's home.

It was two more days before she saw Tom again. She had traded in the handicapped van for a regular car. It was small and used but it would get her back and forth to her teaching job in the fall. He was standing beside it, still wearing his brown cowboy hat and jeans, as if nothing had ever changed.

"Thank you," she almost cried. "Can I hug you? Are you real?"

"Don't know as you need to know the answer to that one," he nodded. "Something things you get told and some you got to learn on your own. That's one of them."

"Maybe I do know the answer," she smiled. "Anyway, again, thank you."

"Thank you," he said. "Like I said, I had to do something nice for someone and I picked you. Now that I've done it, I can move on."

"Will I ever see you again?"

"Of course you will. Like you said, 'God has a plan,'. Just close your eyes and believe."

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