Christmas is for me a time of story … the Santa Claus story, the Christmas story, family stories … So this month I’m going to tell stories, very short stories, of people on the edges who don’t make it into the headlines, the ones that we don’t hear about … the unknown people.
Such a long time ago – I saw the couple after I rode out of town on my donkey, Jedediah. I had left mugs and bowls to be sold, bought new clay, household supplies for Beulah –
Where was I? Yes –late in the day, replete with wine and food shared with friends, half-dreaming as Jedediah plodded homeward, when I saw two shadows, thrown long towards me by the late afternoon sun.
As I came closer the girl reminded me of Beulah thirty years before, pregnant with our first: her back view thin yet obviously carrying as she walked beside the man.
Their silhouettes pulled me deeper into memory: Beulah as a young woman, as a mother … I was astray in days long gone, but as I came abreast of the couple I saw how close to term she was. I pulled on the bridle.
“Jedediah, stop, stop!”
They looked up at me, and I knew what I must do.
“Up on Jedediah, young lady,” I said, climbing down, “he’s cantankerous on occasion, but he knows when to be gentle. You’re coming home with me.”
“There’s an inn further down the road,” the man said.
“Never mind that, your wife needs more than an inn right now.”
“We’d be grateful.”
The man helped her onto Jedediah’s back – she smiled down at him. Definitely a love-match. I was glad I had stopped.
Yes, I took them home for the night
and Beulah fussed happily over the girl,
whose name I can’t remember, or the
man’s either; it’s so long ago.