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Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Delivery by Leah St. James ~ Chapter Three


Chapter Three
Christmas morning, Angela woke with a start, her heart slamming against her chest. Her eyes traveled the length of her bedroom, then she glanced at the clock. Nine-fifteen. Sunlight poured through the pretty drapes she’d just put up a week earlier, and as she looked around her bedroom, she wondered why it felt like she’d never seen it before.
She remembered then, the trauma of the night before, Peggy, the baby, all the blood. The EMTs had finally arrived, and she’d watched the crew work over the family in precision teamwork, then load all three patients in units that looked like they’d been picked up at an antique auction.
The fog had lifted by then, and she’d followed until they’d reached an intersection she recognized, then turned toward home. Once there, she’d staggered into the house, shed her coat in the foyer and moved to the bathroom to strip, dropping her clothes where she stood. After a quick shower, she’d fallen into bed.
The last she’d seen the family, the mom was barely alive.
Joints creaking as if she’d aged a hundred years overnight, she found her coat and dug her phone from the pocket to dial the hospital emergency number. One of the nurses answered, sounding harried, as usual.
“This is Dr. Jensen. Last night a husband, wife and newborn girl were brought in, car crash victims. I delivered the baby in the backseat. Can you tell me their condition?” Her voice sounded rushed, panicky, and she made an effort to calm her breathing.
After a pause, the nurse answered. “I’m sorry, Dr. Jensen, we have no record of receiving patients like that last night.”
“There must be a mistake. The EMTs said they were transporting the patients to the hospital down the road. That’s you.”
“Let me check with the supervisor.” She placed the call on hold and was back on the line in fifteen seconds. “I’m sorry, no one was brought in like that.”
Confused, Angela disconnected. It didn’t make sense. Deciding to shower to clear her head, she headed to the bathroom but stopped short at the threshold. It was clean—no bloodied skirt, no soiled sweater. She pawed through the hamper. Nothing but her work clothes from earlier in the week.
She looked at her hands. No scrapes from the roadway spill. Perfectly smooth skin.
Beginning to think she’d dreamed the whole thing, she moved to the kitchen, saw the coffeemaker had started up right on schedule, and made herself a mug, light and sweet.
She sipped while she wandered through the house looking for the evidence of the prior night’s events but found nothing. Still, something nagged at the back of her mind, like a transient memory that slipped and dodged just out of her reach.
It returned as she passed her closet. Last week, she’d pulled the drapes from a box of old belongings her father had sent when he’d sold the house last month.
At the time, she’d gone through the box, looking at mementos that had meant more to her father than to her. She’d spotted the drapes, thought they were pretty, then shoved the box and the rest of its contents to the back of her closet, promising to investigate some day. 
No better time like the present.
After grabbing a fresh mug of coffee, she settled on the floor next to the box and pried off the lid. On the top was her high school scrapbook stuffed with laminated newspaper clippings from her competitions and other awards, valedictorian speeches, scholarships, letters of early acceptance to medical school. All the signs of a professional life in the making, and her dad had recorded every moment.
Then she found her old baby book with its pink sateen cover. She remembered looking at it as a young girl, but after chronicling the pregnancy in the first quarter of the book, there was nothing, just blank pages where memories of first steps and first days of school should have gone.
She’d never blamed her father for leaving the pages empty. They weren’t her memories, and who would want his? She’d put it aside and forgotten about it. But now, something drew her to its pages.
Her fingers trembled as she flipped open the cover and began to read. There were cards, a number of them, with subdued and appropriate messages. Underneath was a piece of yellowed newspaper.
Carefully she unfolded the fragile document and smoothed it flat. It was two sheets, stapled together. The headline read: “Good Samaritan doctor delivers local couple’s baby following traffic accident.”
Angela’s eyes raced over the printing, and as she read, her hand went to her mouth. It was the same story, the exact same thing that had happened to her last night. An accident had happened in the early morning hours of December 25th, past the entrance ramp to Highway 33. But not here. In Jersey. Her hometown. A local surgeon had delivered the baby. A baby girl.
To the side was a photo of her parents, their engagement photo, showing them young and in love. The caption read “Andrew Jensen and Margaret Smith Tulley are to be married in April.”
She’d seen the shot before, but as she stroked her fingers over her mother’s face—the dark hair so like hers, the dark, velvety eyes–a burst of recognition lit her insides like a firecracker. The woman in the photo was the same woman from the car last night. The pregnant woman, Peggy…Margaret…who’d given birth to…
Suddenly shaking, wondering what the hell was going on, she plowed past the cards that had poured in, and turned to the back cover where an envelope had been glued to the page labeled “Message to my Baby.”
Peggy had written her daughter a letter.
Angela pulled the single sheet from the envelope. The scent of musky rose wafted from the paper, bringing another tremor of awareness.
The handwriting was carefree, feminine but not girlish, and Angela pictured Peggy sitting at a table, pen in hand as she thought about what to say to her baby. Her eyes dropped to the words, and she inhaled a shaking breath as she began to read.
My beautiful baby,
As I write this, I don’t know if you’re a boy or a girl. I don’t know if your name will be Luke or Angela. I like the idea of Biblical names, but your father, the pragmatist, he’s not so sure he wants to attach that kind of mythology (his word) to an infant. So, we split the decision.
What I do know is that you’re a blend of the both of us. You’re part scientist, like him. You’ll be blessed with his logic, his clear-headedness. His goodness. You’ll have some of his ability to compute and analyze, and you’ll be tempted to demand proof, and rationality.
But don’t let that rule you. You’re half me, too. Half dreamer, open to the wonders of the universe that your eyes can’t see. Don’t be afraid of that part of you. Don’t be afraid to believe in the magic of the world.
Study the logic, but understand that it cannot possibly describe or explain life’s mysteries. Understand that we’re not supposed to understand.
Let your instincts guide you, knowing that you were created by a God who loves you and gave you special gifts to use for good, and always reach for that good.
Forgive when it’s easier to begrudge. Love when it’s easier to hate. Love deeply and passionately. And when you find that love, don’t question it, just accept it, and cherish it. I know I have.

Her throat aching, Angela pressed her lips to the sheet, then folded it and placed it back in the baby book.
As she reached for the phone to call her dad, it rang. Ron.
“Good morning,” she answered, sniffling back the tears that had started to fall.
“Morning,” he answered. “How are you today? Survive the night okay after I dragged you to church?” He chuckled, but it was a nervous kind of chuckle.
She thought for a moment. “Yes, I’m fine.”
“You feel like having breakfast, then maybe we could hang out together before the shift starts?”
“Yes, I’d like that. Can you pick me up, though? I don’t feel like driving.”
“Sure. Thirty minutes okay?”
“Fine.”
“See you—“
“Wait, Ron,” she interrupted. “One thing before you hang up.”
“Sure.”
She was trembling, unsure what she was feeling, or what she’d do about it, but it suddenly seemed important.
“Merry Christmas, Ron. Merry Christmas.”
The End.
I hope you enjoyed Christmas Delivery! 
Wishing you and yours a joyous Christmas and a healthy, happy 2014!  

Please click here to read Chapter One,
and here to read Chapter Two.

________________

Beginning Saturday, Dec. 21, through Christmas Eve, my "Christmas Dance" is on sale for Kindle for 99 cents. It's the story of a man and a woman who are (what I call) unhappily happily married. It's a story about love and marriage and temptation--what happens after the bride and groom start to build a life together. You can read more about it here. Merry Christmas!

15 comments:

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Wow, oh wow. Did NOT see that coming. What an awesome story, Leah. So touching and so well done. Yay you!!!

Leah St. James said...

Thank you, Vonnie! So glad you enjoyed it. :-)

Christine DePetrillo said...

Wicked awesome! My mind has been blown! I don't think I can go to work today. LOL. Great, great story...and like I said yesterday, "Cosmic!"

Leah St. James said...

I say stay home, Christine. Tell your bosses you have my permission. :-) Thank you again for such kind words.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Merry Christmas! Wonderful story and then some. Great work, Leah.

Jannine Gallant said...

I expected the ending but didn't know how you'd pull it off. Awesome job! Loved this story, Leah.

Alicia Dean said...

Boohoo! I'm choked up. Amazing story, so touching. Love the twist. I had a bit of a suspicion that something otherworldly was going on in Chapter Two with the 'there is no Hwy 33' and the surrealness of the scene (don't think that's a word, but I'm using it anyway :-)) and of course, the baby's name and birth date. But I had no idea it would turn out the way it did. Fantastic!

Alicia Dean said...

By the way, I HIGHLY recommend Christmas Dance. Wonderful story from a wonderful author. And it's ONLY 99¢ :-)

Leah St. James said...

Thanks, Margo!

Leah St. James said...

Yeah, Jannine, I kind of dropped a bunch of cookie crumbs. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

Leah St. James said...

Thank you, Ally. I'm glad I could keep you guessing a little. :-) As for Christmas Dance, it had a fantastic editor!

Alison Henderson said...

I suspected the ending would be something special, and it was! Thank you so much for this beautiful story.

Leah St. James said...

Thank you, Alison. So glad you enjoyed it!

Diane Burton said...

Wow. You made me cry with the letter. Beautiful story, Leah.

Leah St. James said...

Thank you, Diane!