Summary: This story started with just the first line repeating in my head and took off from there. I hope I can come up with one each year that’s why the title is what it is. If not…well we’ll leave that to the muses.
Rated: K+ WC 1400
Christmas Story 2001
Winter came early and hard to Nevada this year and it left Ben Cartwright wondering if he’d be spending Christmas alone.
“They’ll be fine Ben.”
Ben looked to his old friend Roy Coffee and smiled a faint smile. “I know Roy but a father still worries. Maybe if they were all together I’d feel better.”
“They’re big boys Ben, they’ll be fine.” And although Roy was certain of this he was worried too. After all he felt those ‘boys’ were as much his as they were Ben’s. He’d done his fair share of worrying about them and fretting over them. Did they really believe he enjoyed kicking them out of town? Oh he’d never broken the rules for them, and he never would, but he would admit to bending them now and again.
“I know Roy I just wish I could be certain they’d stay where they are until after the New Year.”
“You know they won’t. Everyone likes to be home for Christmas.”
Ben again smiled at his old friend. He could see the worry he felt reflected in his friends face.
Ben sat and waited. The snow hadn’t stopped falling all day and things were getting even worse out there, if that were possible. Oh God please let him find shelter and stay put.
Hoss slowly made his way downstairs. “Hey Pa maybe he’s not coming.”
“Why? Did you not come?”
“Pa I got home two days ago and the weather wasn’t this bad. Besides when I started out I was closer than he was.”
“True Hoss but it didn’t stop you and it won’t stop him.”
“Yeah but Pa Adam’s smarter than us. Isn’t that what you’re always saying?”
“Joe it’s Christmas and your brother will be home.”
“Maybe not Pa. Joe’s right Adam’s got more sense.” Hoss looked to his younger brother pleading for him to come up with some other reason that might get their father to believe them.
“Yeah beside Adam don’t go in for all this sentimental stuff.” And while Joe knew this might normally be true sometimes at Christmas Adam could be the most sentimental of them all. It was like he could use the season as an excuse.
“Hoss, tell me, are you and your younger brother trying to make me feel better by getting me to believe your brother won’t be home or trying to prepare me if he doesn’t come home?”
“Maybe a little of both Pa.”
Ben didn’t know which would upset him most. While he wanted his son safe he also wanted him home. “Why don’t you two get on up to bed. Remember Santa can’t come until you’re asleep.”
“For once Pa it’s not Santa I’m hoping to have come tonight.”
Ben shook his head and smiled. He knew that no matter how many times Joe claimed he would be better off without his eldest brother around to stick his nose in his business he would be the one to miss him the most if he weren’t around. “I know Joseph. Now go to bed, it’s late.”
“What about you Pa?”
“I’ll just check on things down here Hoss and I’ll be up.”
“We’ll help ya Pa.”
Hoss took hold if his brother‘s arm. “Come on Joe. Goodnight Pa.”
“Goodnight Hoss. Goodnight Joe.”
Adam knew he should have never started out this morning but it was easy to spot ones mistakes when one was looking back at them. He just didn’t want to miss Christmas at home. As silly as that was for a grown man to think it was true.
Adam rode on knowing he wouldn’t be able to see his hand if he held it out in front of him, but he trusted in his experience. Or maybe tonight of all nights he trusted in his father’s faith and prayers. He was certain his father was praying just as he himself was.
Ben slowly opened his eyes.
“Hey Pa. Merry Christmas.”
“Adam? You’re home.”
“Yes Pa. I finally am.”
Ben smiled as he hadn’t in a few days. With each son’s return his smile returned a little. Now with the last one safely home it could be as broad as it was known to be. “It’s good to see you son.”
“Hoss and Joe?”
Always the protective big brother Ben thought. “Both home and in bed.”
“We better be getting to bed too. You know Santa can’t come until we are.”
“Son I have all I need to make this the merriest of Christmases.”
They climbed the stairs. Ben following after his son. Perhaps to make sure he got to where he should be. Once at the top Ben headed to his room and Adam to his. Ben noticed that Adam stood with his hand on the doorknob to his room.
“Is there something wrong Adam?’
“Pa have you ever heard this verse before;
O fare you well, I must be gone,
And leave you for a while,
But wherever I go, I will return,
If I go ten thousand miles, my dear,
If I go ten thousand miles.”
Ben hoped Adam couldn’t see the expression on his face. “Yes I’ve heard it before. Why?”
While Adam couldn’t see his father’s expression he could hear something akin to disbelief in his voice. “I know it’s going to sound silly but when I first started out I could easily convince myself it wasn’t so bad and it would get better, but as the day wore on it got worse. I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. I was trusting in my instincts and Sports ability to find his way back to his nice, warm stall. Then I heard a women’s voice singing that song. The words were faint at first and I turned Sport and headed towards it. I was certain any lady out in that weather was in trouble. Funny thing is she didn’t sound frightened. Her voice was strong and calm and it helped to calm me down. I kept following her voice telling myself she needed my help. Truth is Pa I needed hers. I needed to find her. I needed to see another human being because I was becoming certain I was the only one left on earth. I never got close enough to see her. Her voice never got too loud and whenever it got faint I’d turn until it got loud again. It was just before I got here, just when I recognized where I was, that I called out to her. I then wondered why I hadn’t done so before. I called out that we would be okay because I knew where we were. I told her that we were almost home. I don’t know why I said we and not I but I swear I heard her say she already was. I didn’t hear her any more after that and I looked around once I’d reached where I knew she had to be but there was no trace of anyone having been there. Even with the way the snow had been falling I would have found some trace. I called out to her but there was no answer so I guess it must have been the wind and I must have imagined the words.”
“But you just said you’d heard the song before. If I’d only imagined it then how could you have heard it before?”
“Perhaps you remembered it. That was one of your mother’s favorite songs; she sang it all the time. It was called The True Lover’s Farewell. Maybe she sang it to you and somewhere you remembered it and used it to give yourself comfort.”
“But Pa…well maybe.”
“ ‘Night Pa.”
Ben leaned back against his closed bedroom door. He was well aware that Adam’s mother, his first wife Elizabeth, had never sung that song to their son. She hadn’t had the time. He also knew that Adam was aware of this. Ben also knew that his logical son would choose to believe this obvious fabrication over the only other alternative.
“Thank you Elizabeth. Thank you for seeing him safely home.”
That’s when Ben realized each of his sons had a guardian angel that had seen them safely home. Adam’s just had to make herself a little more conspicuous to be noticed and followed.
Other Stories by this Author
- The Magic Of Christmas (by Storm)
- A Christmas Story (by Storm)
- The First Thanksgiving (by Storm)
- Valentine’s Day (by Storm)
- Lifes Lessons Are Not Always Learned In School (by Storm)