Here is my entry for December 23rd. It is also the birth date of the late James Stacy. I decided to write a Christmas / birthday story. My Johnny is in his teens. No beta. Mistakes mine. All criticism is welcome. Thanks
Word count: 1,485
The barn was brightly lit from the lanterns burning inside. Barranca was pacing nervously and pawing at the floor of his stall. In the next stall Johnny was trying to soothe a nervous mare about to foal.
Johnny looked over to Barranca. “Settle down Papa, your family will be fine.” Inwardly Johnny was having doubts as the mare, covered in sweat groaned again. The labor was not going well. Johnny was worried that he may lose the mare and foal.
Murdoch, knowing Johnny was unarmed, felt safe slipping into the barn to check the progress. He stood quietly for a few moments as he heard Johnny softly praying kneeling at the mare’s head. Murdoch then made his presence known walking to the stall. “How’s she doing, Son?”
The look on Johnny’s face told him the answer.”I am worried Pa. The baby is coming too early. Misty is having a hard time as it is, and now the labor has stalled. Jelly mixed up one of his potions to calm her. It looks like it helped some.”
Murdoch felt for his son. Johnny so badly wanted to have Barranca’s first foal. “Would you like some company?”
Now sitting and resting back against the wall of Misty’s stall Johnny tried hard to keep his father from seeing his unshed tears. “Can you stay for a while Pa?”
Murdoch knew he would regret it in the morning with his bad back, but his son needed him. He sat down next to Johnny against the wall, stretching his long legs out. “Sure, son. We’ll get through this together.” Murdoch said as he slipped his arm around Johnny’s shoulders. “Johnny these things take time, even with people. I’ve never told you about the night you were born, have I?”
“No sir” Johnny replied, looking up at his father. Murdoch saw this as a good way to keep Johnny’s mind occupied for a while.
“You were not expected for a few weeks, but you decided you wanted to see the world early. Your mother was having a hard time, and was in labor several hours. Sam was getting worried.”
A surprised Johnny asked “Sam was there?”.
“Yes, son. He and Maria brought you into this world. You finally made your entrance a little after midnight. You were small since you were early, but I will never forget that full head of hair and the bluest eyes I have ever seen. You were blessed with a good set of lungs, screaming your head off as soon as you arrived. Sam said you deprived him of giving you your first spanking” Murdoch chuckled.
“Huh? How could I have been in trouble if I was just born?” Murdoch noticed the confused look on his son’s face.
“Johnny, doctors lightly spank the baby to make it cry so it can fill its lungs with air. It’s only a couple of smacks until the baby cries”.
“Well, that ain’t right. Smacking little bitty babies like that. You would think doctors could find better way to make babies breathe.”
Murdoch smiled at his now pouting son. He reached over and ruffled Johnny’s hair. “Well, as I said you needed no help airing your lungs. You had a temper even then. Maria and Sam were trying to get you cleaned up so they could bring you to your mother. You were a squiggling angry little thing. Red faced, hands balled up in fists, kicking and yelling. Once you were laid at your mother’s side, you immediately demanded to be fed. Sam says you were born hungry. I guess that has not changed.” Murdoch noticed Johnny starting to blush, so he continued on.
“Your mother was totally exhausted, but still looked so beautiful. The glow on her face was put there by the realization of the wonderful gift we created from our love. You finished your first meal, and then began fussing again. I think your voice could be heard throughout the house. Maria picked you up and handed you to me so your mother could rest.
“You stopped crying the minute you were placed in my arms. You looked up at me with those big blue eyes and I thought my heart would burst. I loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you. I took you to the window to show you what would someday be yours and Scott’s once I brought him home where he belonged. I also told you about your big brother, and how much fun the two of you would have.
“You were almost a Christmas baby. You only missed it by two days. On that Christmas night, your mother and I sat together by the fire, looking at the tree and feeling truly blessed. We were so happy. I didn’t have much money at that time, but we shared the greatest gift of all.”
“Me?” Johnny asked, leaning into his father’s chest to get more comfortable.
“Yes you. We sat and discussed our dreams and hopes for you. I wished that the night would never end. Johnny I so wanted you and Scott with me and to have you grow up here. I only had you with me for two years, but you brought me so much joy. I don’t know what happened between your mother and me. I thought she was happy here. I was busy trying to build up the ranch for you boys. I guess I did not give her the time and attention she needed from me.”
“It wasn’t your fault Pa. Mama could have tried harder to make it work. Guess she was not cut out to be a rancher’s wife. I wish she would’ve left me with you, though.”
A single tear slid down Murdoch’s face. “So do I Son. It broke my heart when I found you were gone.”
Sighing, Johnny looked up at his father. “I wanna thank you for telling me all this. Mama never told me much about my time here at Lancer.”
Unnoticed while father and son talked, the mare gave birth. Johnny was startled when the mare got to her feet. He jumped up to go to her. Beside her was a tiny foal, struggling to stand. “Pa, she did it! Misty you are a mama. I knew you could do it. Congratulations Papa, look at your son!” Barranca nickered and was nodding his head in approval. Johnny saw the foal trying again to stand. He failed, but seemed determined to try again.
“But Pa, he is so small. Do you think he will make it?”
Murdoch smiled and said “I am sure he will son. Remember you were small too!”
Finally the foal succeeded in standing then began to nurse.
Johnny looked over at Murdoch. “I know he will make it. He has the love of his mama and daddy. I’ll be here to help him too.”
Still seated on the barn floor Murdoch smiled. “Well my son, you got one birthday present early”.
“Huh?” was all Johnny could say, not getting Murdoch’s meaning.
“It will be dawn in a few hours. We have been here all night. It is now December 23rd. Happy birthday Son. Barranca, your son and mine now share the same birthday.”
Johnny grinned at that thought. “Thanks, Pa. I have hopes and dreams for this little guy too. He could be the start of a new horse breeding venture at Lancer.”
Murdoch smiled at his son’s enthusiasm. He loved seeing Johnny so happy.
Groaning as he tried to get up, Murdoch called to Johnny. “Hey, you want to help your old man up off the floor here?”
Johnny went to his father and helped him stand. Feeling playful, he called to Barranca. “Ya’ see boy, when you get to be an old man your son can help you get up.” Laughing, Johnny tried, and failed to escape the reach of his father’s long arms.
Murdoch laughed and cuffed Johnny. “You keep up that sass, and I will see that you get the spanking Sam missed out on.”
“No I’ll be good. I promise.” Johnny squeaked out.
“Well, now that this little fellow seems to be holding his own, let’s go up and get some sleep. Maria and Teresa have big plans for your birthday today.”
They left the barn together. Murdoch stopped and stared up at the sky.
Johnny stopped, concerned and asked “Are you okay Pa?”
“The sky looked much the same the night you were born; clear, with millions of stars shining bright.” Murdoch drew Johnny into a fierce hug and resting his chin on Johnny’s head he spoke again. “Happy birthday, my Son. I love you!”
“I love you too, Pa.” The embrace ended as father and son continued on to the house for some much needed rest.
~ end ~
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