The Eve by Winj

Word Count 1,080

Johnny walked slowly around the great room, taking in every decoration, every candle and every scent as he passed them by. The smile on his face widened as he looked at the doorway and saw the mistletoe. Tonight, Christmas Eve, he was going to Mass for the first time in … he couldn’t remember how long it had been. Usually, the holidays found him in a cantina or saloon somewhere or, if he was lucky, with a particularly jolly female friend.

He leaned against the mantle, the heat of the fire warming his legs. Scott had scoffed at anyone calling the weather here cold but, Johnny wasn’t a fan of cooler climates. He’d tried hard all his life to stay in the warmest places he could find in the winter months. Of course, back then, he’d had nothing more than the white linens of a peon to wear. Now, he had real clothes, a coat and even gloves if he needed them. He shook his head at the craziness of life.

His thoughts returned to the church service and the talk he’d had with his father a few days ago. Murdoch had actually brought the subject up and he’d been very surprised by that. Not a particularly church-going man himself, Johnny found it odd his old man would talk to him about his faith. But, it had seemed important to Murdoch to feel him out about Mass. Johnny knew his father was a Protestant and he tried to overlook such shortcomings. After all, no one was perfect. A grin came to his lips with that thought.

Murdoch hadn’t told him he should go or even asked him to go but, he had asked how Johnny felt about the ceremony. It wasn’t an easy talk to have. His history with the church was sketchy at best. Still, the padre in Green River was a good man, a benevolent man and Johnny did like him. Plus, the priest wasn’t long-winded like some could be. Another grin crossed his face.

Life was funny. This time last year he never would have dreamed the wishes of a small, frightened child would come true and he’d have a home and family who loved him and whom he loved. Yet, here he was only a few short months after coming home with exactly that. He did love them, even Murdoch which was a true miracle to his mind. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get to the point where he even liked the old man when he’d first arrived here. Those first couple of months were so very hard and it had taken a lot of work from both of them to get past all the old hurts and old beliefs.

Now, he was going to Mass. He hadn’t really thought about it at all until Murdoch brought it up. Then, he could think of little else. It was only yesterday he’d told his father he was going and Murdoch had been so happy about that for some reason. Well, whatever his reasons for wanting his son to go to church, Johnny was sure they didn’t match his own. For all he truly wanted was to feel like he belonged. Not only to this family, for he now did feel that, but to the community, as well. He’d made friends here, it was true. Still, he was never quite sure what people thought of him. Never quite able to truly believe they didn’t smile to his face only to trash him behind his back. Well, it was like Scott said. You have to make an effort.

He frowned as he suddenly realized he was a little too warm. The fire was ablaze so he moved away and walked over to the tree. Reaching down, he reorganized the packages which had slid out from under. Satisfied they were all in their place, he stood back and admired the tree. A soft laugh came out as he recalled the three of them lumbering up to the mountain to pick out a tree. He thought they might come to blows, each one having a different choice. Finally, he’d had enough and suggested they bring Teresa up and let her choose. The others, convinced she would pick their tree, had eagerly agreed. Well, Teresa chose alright. And it was not any of the three they’d picked out. Murdoch and Scott had both given him a hard glare but, he was too tickled at the whole situation to do anything but laugh. Later, once the tree was decorated, Murdoch and Scott cornered him, serious looks on their faces that turned to smiles. And they’d all agreed Teresa should always pick the tree for she’d done a magnificent job.

He glanced at the clock and thought he’d better get a move on if he wanted a bath and to get ready to leave right after supper. It was going to be a late night but, he could sleep in tomorrow. That was, if Scott didn’t pounce on him at first light. Johnny thought nothing was more enjoyable than watching his brother through this holiday. Scott had started getting excited right after Thanksgiving and he hadn’t stopped yet. He laughed as he reached up and fingered the St. Jude medallion around his neck. Johnny looked down at the figure for a moment then pulled the necklace off and studied it. He heard footsteps and turned to see his father walking in from the kitchen.

“I got thrown out. Maria is on a tear. What’s that you’ve got there, son?”

Johnny looked back at the necklace. “Saint Jude. Patron Saint of desperate cases.” He frowned then looked back at his father, finding a deeper frown on the older man’s face along with some sadness and Johnny didn’t like that at all. He offered his hand. “Here, maybe you know someone who could use this.”

Murdoch’s face relaxed as he took the medallion and closed his fist around it, a small smile turning his lips upward.

“I’m going to get ready for Mass. I’ll see you at supper.” Johnny headed for the stairs only to be stopped by his father’s slightly shaking voice.

“Feliz Navidad, hijo mio.”

Johnny swallowed hard and closed his eyes as his heart filled with love and peace. He turned to face his father, a warm smile on his face and tears in his eyes but, he didn’t care about that. “Feliz Navidad, papa.”

The End
winj
12/09- Archived July 2022

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Comments:  We don’t have this author’s current email address. If you leave a comment below, if she reconnects with the fandom, then she will see how much her work is appreciated.

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One thought on “The Eve by Winj

  1. Oh, this was a lovely story. If Johnny had not agreed to go to church, I feel Murdoch would have been hurt, but knowing Johnny was going, made him feel Johnny was really accepting he was part of the family.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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