Today in the spirit of Christmas, I’m bringing you a flash fiction piece I wrote for Christmastime last year. It needs some serious work, but I decided to share it with you all anyway. 😉 I hope you enjoy it.
It’s actually part of this…
The 12 Days of Christmas blog party! 😀 Visit Faith’s website to find out about other Christmas posts going around the blogosphere (ones past and in the future 🙂 ).
Also, there’s a giveaway going on as well, if you haven’t heard about it already, which ends at midnight on Christmas Eve. 🙂 Here’s the link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4a652fbb7/?
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Bethlehem, 6 B.C.
To think that such an ordinary day would lead into an unforgettable night…..
I squinted against the afternoon sun and gripped my rough knotted staff. My father’s flock of sheep grazed peacefully over the small expanse of gentle hills. I set my staff in the grass as I sat on a large flat rock to tighten my head wrap.
A large tree several feet away provided shade for myself and some of the other sheep. The ewes and their lambs liked to stay close to me, but I could not tell if it was because they knew I would protect them, or I always found the best shady spots.
Either way, I was glad this bunch stuck close by. I loved to watch the lambs bound about, tugging at their mothers’ ears, trying to coax them into their games. One particular lamb had been my favorite since her birth. She was tiny for her age but full of life. But she never passed up an opportunity to cuddle in my lap on cooler nights. I had christened her Aliza, which meant ‘filled with joy.’
Standing watch on another crest of a hill, was my father. His staff was tall, thick and strong. Not as messy looking as mine, which I had hacked off a tree myself. He looked my way and raised his staff in the air. I raised mine. It was sort of our code to check on each other, to make sure we were alright.
Later that evening, my father guided his half of the flock and mixed them with mine so he could join me at my rock.
“Hanna,” he said, “I need you to go to refill my water flask. Go quickly now.”
I nodded, taking the flask from his hand. I hurried down the hills, trying to avoid rocks and pebbles as I did, but my bare feet still felt the sting of their sharp edges.
As I neared the city, I glanced back at my father. His back was turned away from me as he kept an ever-watchful eye on the sheep. My mother and father were not blessed with a son, to help Father with the sheep. So I had to help him when necessary.
I clutched my hands tightly around the flask. I kept my eyes downcast as I went through the streets toward the well. I felt my face get warm as I joined the other women there. There were too many people. I longed to return to the grassy hills. Just me, the sheep, and fresh air. That’s what I was used to.
The chatting group of women filled their clay pots and jugs and soon left, balancing them on their heads or hips. As I stepped up to the well, a man leading a donkey walked up as well. A young pregnant woman rode the donkey. She smiled kindly to me. I blushed and tried to grin back. I knew I should be friendlier.
“Shalom,” I greeted quietly. “Would you like me to draw some water for you?”
The two nodded and the man thanked me. I set the flask on the dirt by the well’s stone wall and grabbed the rope to let the bucket back down into the well. When I pulled it back up and set it on the wall’s edge, the man filled two flasks, handing one to the woman.
She took a sip. “Mm, that’s better. Thank you.” She placed a hand over her middle. “What’s your name?”
I began filling Father’s flask. “Hanna.”
“Shalom, Hanna. My name is Mary.”
I nodded and smiled as they passed by me on their way down the street. I patted the donkey’s brown rump, and he swished his tail at me. I watched them as they stopped at the nearest inn. They won’t find space there, I thought. With Caesar Augustus’ decree that a census should be taken, and everyone going to their own towns to register, it seemed all of Bethlehem’s inns were filled.
I decided to take a less traveled street back to the hills. It was the longer way, but at least there were less crowds and noise. The path I took would join a main road a while before leaving the little town.
To my surprise, I ran into Mary and her husband again.
Mary was bent over. She clutched her middle and her face was twisted in pain. “Joseph,” she groaned. He dropped the donkey’s rope to hold her hand. My pulse quickened with worry.
He frantically glanced around and saw me. “Please, do you know of any place we can stay?” he pleaded. I thought only for a second, but that short silence made Joseph panic even more.
I picked the rope up from the ground. “I know a place. If you don’t mind a barn, that is.”
Joseph thanked me, and I began leading the donkey through the town, until we reached the home of my father’s friend, Aatami.
I rapped hard on the thick door. Aatami wasn’t a kind man. I hoped maybe a pledged coin would convince him to let the couple use his barn for the night.
He opened the door a crack before swinging it wide. “Shalom, Hanna. What is it?”
“These two need a place to stay,” I explained quickly. “The woman is with child.”
He squinted past me at Joseph and Mary and stroked his beard. His hesitation was irritating, and I quickly promised him a small sum.
He grunted and nodded toward the barn. “You know where it is.”
Joseph heard and wasted no time. He pulled the tired donkey along, glancing every couple seconds at Mary. “Thank you, Hanna,” he said.
I smiled and raised my hand in farewell. Looking up at the darkness of the sky, I knew I had to hurry back to Father. He might have been worried about my long absence, but he wasn’t able to leave the flock.
I scrambled up the rocky hill, eager to tell Father what had happened in town. I found him just a little farther away from our flock than before, talking with two other shepherds around a crackling fire.
“Father,” I called as I reached him. “Something happened—“
My voice was silenced by a loud noise. A rush of wind like I’d never heard or felt before. It thrust me on my back and the fire was blown out in an instant. A bright white light nearly blinded me. I began to panic with fear. I tried to shade me eyes with my arm, but I still couldn’t see where Father was.
I heard a few cries of terror nearby as a deep voice boomed. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people,” it said. The light lessened a little and I squinted upward. I felt my breathing stop as my gaze fell upon an angel, suspended in air. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
More heavenly beings appeared with the first, and they all praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”
There was another rush of wind. Lesser than the first, but I struggled to keep upright. The angels left.
Our small band of shepherds stared in trembling awe at the sky. One star much brighter than the rest shone in the distance, its silvery beams shining down on a special spot.
“Let’s go into Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about,” one shepherd said eagerly. In awed silence, we took up our staffs and hurried toward the town following the light of the star.
Our humble group approached the barn of Aatami. The light of the star gathered there.
Joseph looked up at us from the bundle in the manger. His smile was as bright as the sun. “Come, join us,” he beckoned.
We shyly approached, kneeling and squatting in the soft dirt. I leaned forward to peak at the child nestled in the straw. It was the sweetest baby I had ever seen. I smiled. The shepherds with me smiled. Mary smiled back.
Well, I hope you still like it. Maybe I’ll actually edit this thing one day. XD
Talk to me about your Christmas in the comments! Do you have your Christmas shopping and wrapping done? If not, well…welcome to the club. 😉 What’s your favorite thing about the Christmas season (besides awesome seasonal Starbucks drinks 😛 )?
Write on and merry Christmas :),
What are some of your favorite classic Christmas stories? What do you look forward to most this Christmas season? I hope you all have a blessed Christmas!