Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Fiction : Day 6

Author's Ramblings: It took me a while to get this one finished--and as promised, there isn't anything 'fantasy' about it. ^_^ It is a bit short, but I think the length suits the piece. I can't believe today is Christmas Eve--I guess that means I ought to write faster, eh? If you have a song you'd like me to storify, please mention it in the comments, on my facebook page or via email. I will still finish the 12 days, regardless of whether Christmas arrives first. Happy reading and Merry Christmas! 
This painting was done by the talented Brian Jekel.

To find out more about the Christmas Fiction Challenge or to read past entries, Click here to read and join! 

Disclaimer is at the bottom. I do not own the lyrics or the song, this is merely a bit of of creative fiction for the fun of it. The idea/plot/characters created are my own.  

Title: Beside The Manger

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

Joseph crept through the stable, searching for the little fire he’d left and his very pregnant wife. He had worried, but she had assured him that all was well, to see about some hot water and such from the inn. “Mary?”

“Joseph.” Her voice was quieter, fainter.

He moved towards it, smiling when he saw her face and then staring in amazement as he realized she was cradling something in her arms. Shock registered so briefly, he only felt the wonderment slipping into him as he drew near. “Mary.” He breathed.

A happy tear slid down one flushed cheek as she smiled up at him. “Isn’t He beautiful?”

“W-we need a crib.” He stammered.

She smiled. “Shall I leave that to you?”

He managed to mirror the smile back. Taking a quick look around the stable, he discovered an empty feed trough, a wooden manger. He brushed it out as best as he could and dragged it over to where the mother and baby sat close to the little fire. “How’s this?” He ran a hand through his beard. “Some clean hay will help, I can get some from here.” He disappeared again, reappearing with an armful of fresh, yellow straw.

“I think that might be too much.” There was a little laugh to her voice as Mary watched him trying to stuff it all inside the small manger. “Maybe not so much?” Happy tears still glittered in her eyes as she placed the bundled child inside the finished result. “Ah, he’s sleeping.”

Joseph sank into the bundle of hay, just beside her. “He’s so peaceful.”

Mary nodded, unable to pull away her hands from the edge of the manger. She couldn’t help it. She wanted to hold this precious child as close to her heart as possible. The tears were still coming and somehow all the pain from before wasn’t as bad as it had been as she gazed upon the babe’s sleeping face.

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

“You should get some rest too.” Joseph offered her a piece of a hot roll. The Inn had sold him a little basket of them and the delicious scent filled the air of the tiny stable. Mary tried to smile, but her eyelids were drooping, her body craving the rest she had yet to give it. “And you need to eat something.”

“Thank you.” She took the roll, nibbling on the edge. It was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, the taste was earthy and nutty. It made her smile. Joseph was trying so hard look after her, it added another layer of warmth to the new feelings of protectiveness welling up inside of her.

“I will watch over Him. Please rest.” He tentatively rested one arm around her shoulder.

She smiled again, a happy glow that didn’t seem like it would be wearing off any time soon. Her head tilted forward to the side and she rested it on his shoulder as her eyes tried to close again. “He will need me soon…”

“I will wake you. Rest, please.” ‘

“I want to. I’m tired, but it’s so special that I don’t want to. I want to stay awake. I want to watch Him sleep. I want to keep this feeling…I feel so…” and her eyes closed, at last, sleep claiming her. Joseph didn’t dare move. He alternated glances between wife and child as his own well of happiness began to overflow.

His head bowed in prayer, thanks to the One who had given them an honor so great.

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

Mary stirred at the sound of the restless animals. She ached all over and the pains were drawing the little energy she thought she’d saved. And then her eyes fell upon the wakened babe in the manger, merely inches away. The feelings of happiness and peace crept through her once more as she stretched a hand out.

The fire had been reduced to shimmering coals and Joseph had fallen asleep, with one hand also on the manger. Mary smiled, shaking his shoulder, gently, to wake him. “The fire.” She whispered, when his eyes blinked open, heavy with sleep. “It cannot get too cold.”

He roused himself from the threads of sleep and went about building the fire back up. Warmth returned to the air as flames licked hungrily at the new fuel. Mary inched closer, resting her weight on the manger. She leaned over on one elbow, smiling down at the silent child.

“Hello, little one.” She reached out with one hand, a trembling finger caressing a smooth, chubby cheek. “You’re awake.” She cooed. “It’s still nighttime though.”

“Do you need anything else from the Inn, Mary?” Joseph paused at the stable entrance. “Anything at all?”

Mary gathered the child in her arms, cradling it close to her chest as she tried to think for a moment. The soft flush of red on her husband’s face only meant that he was giving them a moment of privacy. She smiled at him again. “Some more bread would be nice and maybe some cheese?”

“I’ll be right back.” He ducked out of the stable and out into the sky-starred night.

She listened to his footsteps fade away and her attention was drawn back to the baby nuzzling at the front of her dress. “Ah.” She murmured. “Hungry?”  

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
'Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Beneath the star-filled sky, Joseph solemnly paced from one short end of the path to the other. He wasn’t about to enter just yet, it was best of Mary had this moment of privacy to herself. He found himself staring up at the night sky, the smile on his face one that could not be hidden in the darkness.

There was so much joy, wonderment and peace that seemed to be surrounding him, it was almost as if it was too beautiful to understand. He resumed pacing, waiting for the Inn attendant to let him know when the rolls were done. It didn’t make sense to take the cheese back without the bread, so he walked with the wrapped package in hand, smiling up at the sky.

The sounds of jabbering voices filted through the cool air to reach his ears And he turned, squinting in the night to see where it was coming from. The voices drew nearer and he could soon make out the rough outlines and tall, crooked walking staffs in their hands.


He cleared his throat to announce his presence as they turned down the path towards him.

Disclaimer and rights. © Sara Harricharan. I do not own the lyrics, the song or anything of the sort, only the original characters I have created and the plot, which are solely my own creation and any resemblance to an actual event, person or place, is entirely coincidental as this is a work of fiction.


Yvonne Blake said...

I didn't know, until I had children of my own, the wonder Mary must have felt at giving birth to Jesus. I still don't know the half of it. Thanks for this beautiful story, Sara.

Anonymous said...

This is a lovely story, Sara.
Merry Christmas.