Wayne Hollis Jackson was driving along the old Eagle Trail on his way back from the range. He was still a good fifteen mile away from home and the snow was hitting the windscreen of the truck like a hail of Lux soap flakes. The Jackson’s had always been cowboys, but he was sure glad not to be riding a horse in this weather. After a hard day, he was looking forward to getting back to a warm fire, and a fine bit of good Texan tucker that his momma would have ready for him at the house. His watch read six-thirty, and he had reckoned to be back before seven, but with the worsening weather, he began to doubt getting home at all.
A while later he was passing the McVale place, squinting to see where he was headed, he could just make out Mary-Lou McVale standing by the side of their station wagon flagging him down. He pulled over as close as he could, drew his hat down over his eyes and gathered his sheepskin coat around his body, opened the truck door and ran to Mary -Lou putting his arm around her.
‘What’s up Mrs McVale?’ he said.
The words came tumbling out, a torrent of panic.
‘The pick-up’s broke, the baby’s coming, the phone lines are down, there’s no mobile signal and Joe’s away working on the rigs. He was getting here for Christmas, but I think that ain’t possible now. The baby’s not due for another three weeks but the contractions are coming fast. I don’t see how I’m gonna make it to the hospital. Rightly I should have had my mother here but like I said, the baby’s not due for another three weeks.’
‘Well mam, I’ve delivered a fair few calves in my time, can’t see it’ll be that much different. Let’s get you inside, out of this blizzard.’
‘Won’t your mamma be worrying ’bout you?’
‘Guess she will but there’s nothing I can do ’bout that now. Anyways, she’ll likely think I’ve stayed up at the bunkhouse what with this weather and all.’
‘There’s some stew on the stove if you need a bite to eat.’
‘Why, that’s a mighty good idea, I could be here some time.’
For the next five hours Mary-Lou paced around the living room of the one storey house, moaning and groaning and Wayne comforted her between contractions. He tried to stay relaxed and not let on how nervous he felt about the imminent birth.
‘Do you think, with it being Christmas Eve an’ all, you might have a boy?’ he asked.
‘What, you mean, like a second coming?’ Mary-Lou kinda spat the words out.
‘I was just saying.’
‘I think it’s here,’ yelled Mary-Lou before dropping onto all fours and bellowing.
Wayne manoeuvred her onto the couch.
At just gone midnight, a beautiful little baby girl bawled her way into the world.
‘Oh my,’ said Wayne, ‘a new beginning. Aint that something? What are you gonna call her?’
‘Well, I don’t rightly fancy Waynette, but maybe Holly would be nice, a bit like your middle name? And it is Christmas day after all.’
Wayne stared at the little baby.
‘Imagine,’ he sighed, ‘if Jesus had been born a girl, the world might have been a whole different place.’
This story was originally created from a prompt set as homework for a writing group that I have just joined, Story Traders, in Bridport. We had to take a character or two from a Christmas Carol or Song and write a story putting them in a modern setting. I chose the Cowboy Carol, which I love and I think my kids loved it too. If you don’t know it, you can listen to a version of it here.