N o e l

Cole Parker

The snow blew around Adam’s trousers as he wandered through the thin woods behind his house. He didn’t notice the wind or the cold. He was off somewhere else, his thoughts taking him away from his physical plane.

The day had been a disaster. It should have been wonderful. It was the final day of school prior to Christmas break. Teachers mostly didn’t teach, but instead held holiday celebrations in their classrooms with games and sometimes even cookies. Mr. Tanner had even brought in a miniature Christmas tree and had encouraged kids to put presents for classmates under it to go along with the small gifts he’d brought for every kid in each of his classes.

This would be Adam’s last year celebrating Christmas in middle school. He was 13 and would turn 14 in March. He was well-liked and was one of those kids everyone looked up to. He got good grades, was athletic and good looking, but the reason he was so esteemed by the kids at school was how kind and friendly he was. He went out of his way to talk to and befriend the kids others ignored. No one bullied them once it was known Adam was their friend. Some of the kids who would have liked to take advantage of their size and aggressive natures against those not able to defend themselves objected to Adam, calling him a mother hen and worse. They didn’t do it where he could overhear them, however. He wasn’t the biggest kid on the school grounds, but he carried himself with an air of confidence and poise beyond his years that made him perhaps the least likely to be called out.

There were just the few of the bullying sort, though. Most everyone really liked Adam. The son of a minister, he tried to do the right thing, having been inspired by the story of the Good Samaritan. He’d listened to sermons about being morally straight and to him that was an ideal to aspire to.

But then, today, disaster. It was in Mr. Tanner’s English class. He’d forgotten himself for just a second. One second. That was all it took.

Jamie Cushings had put a gift under Mr. Tanner’s tree for Adam. When Adam saw it, his heart started beating faster. He had the biggest crush ever on Jamie. The kid was the cutest boy he’d ever seen: golden, curly hair worn a little too long, sparkling blue eyes, and an irrepressible nature. Adam had caught Jamie looking at him a few times, and Jamie had caught him looking back. But Adam knew nothing could come of it. He was a preacher’s son, and his father led a Christian congregation. Plus, he and Jamie attended a private Christian school. Being gay wasn’t permitted; it was listed as a sin in the school handbook. And Adam would never do anything to cause embarrassment for his father, a man he adored. He accepted that he found boys attractive as a part of himself. He had yet to figure out how to resolve the moral dilemma that created.

Adam was a boy, and because of his age, a boy with emerging feelings. And a lot of those feelings lately were centered on Jamie Cushings.

So, when it was time for all the kids to open the gifts under Mr. Tanner’s tree that were addressed to them, it was with trepidation and hope that Adam opened the one from Jamie. Jamie saw him doing it and moved to his side so he could see Adam’s reaction. Jamie’s heart was racing, too, in fear and hope.

Adam tore off the paper and saw a small, velvet-covered box. He opened it and inside found a piece of paper. Just that, a piece of paper, folded in half. He picked it up and looked at up Jamie, where he saw fear and hope in his eyes, and opened the note.

The note said: I like you, Adam. I like you a lot. I hope you like me. Please like me, too.

And that was the moment that Adam lost himself. The one second. Because, seeing the hope and fear in Jamie’s eyes, he acted without thinking. He leaned over and kissed Jamie on the cheek. Then he whispered in the boy’s ear, “I do like you, Jamie. A lot.”

But it was the kiss that was the disaster. Missy Jacoby had seen it. Missy Jacoby had asked Adam to be her boyfriend. Adam had told her he wasn’t ready to have a girlfriend. Now, Missy saw a way to get revenge. And she took it.

She screamed, and pointed, and told everyone what she saw while Jamie and Adam blushed. Adam ended up in Principal Washington’s office. Principal Washington was a blustering man who thought the Bible was the last book that had ever needed to be written. He was a man who did no deep thinking—and a man who took his responsibilities seriously. To him, keeping the children in his school morally straight was one of his most important functions. As he saw it, there could be no homosexuality or even the smell of it in his school. He lectured Adam at length about how he was going to Hell, told him that he was suspended and would probably be expelled, and to leave the school property at once. And as a trembling Adam was leaving his office, Principal Washington self-righteously informed him that he’d be in contact with the boy’s father to make sure he knew of his son’s offense to God.

Adam had walked home in a daze. He’d never been in trouble before. The strongest feelings he had were for his parents. He loved and respected his father and mother unequivocally; they both showered love on him and were his foundation. Now, he would be a disappointment to them. His whole world had changed. He had no idea what to do. He was afraid to confront them, to see their disappointment, probably their anger.

He was scared. Lost. As so he walked home without any idea where he was going, letting his feet simply take him where they always did.

When he got home, no one was there. His dad worked in the church and his mom was his secretary. He didn’t know when Principal Washington would call them. Probably he already had. Maybe his mom hadn’t come home because she didn’t even want to look at him.

He walked up to his room and sat on the bed, but couldn’t remain there for more than a few seconds. He was too uncertain, too worked up. Too scared.

He changed out of his school clothes, and while doing so, realized he already, instinctively, knew what he was going to do. He slipped into a comfortable pair of jeans, his sneakers, a hoodie, gathered up his Swiss Army knife he always carried with him when not in school, found a pair of gloves, his lined jacket and a knit hat and left the house. He was going to walk in the woods behind their house. It always calmed him down to walk in the woods. He could only hope the walk would have that effect now.

The woods were extensive, running from behind his house for several miles to the south. He’d been cautioned often by his father not to wander too far away because it was easy to get lost. Adam had always been careful in the past to follow his dad’s advice. But now, his mind was foggy, his thinking scattered, and he wasn’t being either observant or careful where he was going. He was simply walking.

When he’d left the house the day had been cold and clear, but very quickly clouds rolled in. Snow began drifting down, but Adam was too far into himself to even notice. He was just walking, thinking how he’d ruined things with his family by simply liking another boy the way he knew he wasn’t supposed to. But he hadn’t tried to. It had just happened. He found other boys at school much more appealing than any of the girls. And Jamie, well, he was especially so. He had no control over the thoughts he had about Jamie.

To learn that Jamie liked him, too, was just the best thing he could imagine. He’d been so happy! And then, it was the worst thing. How could that be? How could liking a boy who liked you back be so horrible? How could kissing him on the cheek result in this?

He wasn’t paying any attention to where he was, what was around him. He simply wandered, alone in his head. It was snowing harder now, but the woods had become denser and the snow was being filtered through the tree branches and what unfallen leaves and pine needles still remained. The ground where he was remained clear.

He walked and walked. Occasionally he stopped to rest against one of the trees. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast, but didn’t really feel the hunger. When rested, he’d get up and walk again, thinking about how his father would react, probably with sadness, perhaps with disgust. Thinking of his mother crying. Thinking how he couldn’t abide either.

The day moved through afternoon toward evening. As it did, the light slowly dimmed; the air became much colder. Adam didn’t notice. He was just walking. Slower now because of the closeness of the trees, and because he was getting tired.

It was a sudden realization of how cold he was, and that he was having trouble seeing where he was going, that brought him out of his reverie. He’d been thinking of last Christmas, the tree, the wonderful aromas wafting from the kitchen, the gifts, but mostly the love in the house. He’d just thought of being in front of the fireplace, roasting marshmallows with his dad, laughing, when a sudden hard shiver brought him back to reality.

He stopped and looked around. He had no idea where he was. He’d been walking for several hours. He saw, through the gloom of twilight, nothing that looked the least bit familiar. It was then he realized his feet were numb and he couldn’t even feel his cheeks.

He turned all the way around and saw nothing familiar, nothing he recognized. This scared him. What should he do? Where was home?

He forced himself to calm down. Surely he could go back the way he came, he thought. Just turn around.

He did and saw only trees in front of him. There wasn’t enough snow on the ground in the woods to show footprints. He had no idea in which direction to walk. He was entirely, thoroughly lost.

He felt despair flood over him. Not only was he lost physically but mentally as well. He felt he’d lost his soul. Would his parents even want him back? Would they be better off without the embarrassment he’d cause them? Maybe being lost, never to be found, was best. He was tired and he was cold. It would be so easy to simply sit down, go to sleep and be done with everything. So easy.

No, he decided. That would be giving up, and all he was doing was allowing bad thoughts to push out good ones. Maybe he could somehow reconcile himself with his parents. They’d be worried about him. Even if they didn’t love him any longer, they’d still have to be worried. No, he couldn’t just sit down. He had to try to get back at the very least.

He took a deep breath, then turned to pick a direction. He looked to where he thought he must have come from, and took a step, and then another. But then, he stopped. He’d heard something. Off to his right, there’d been a loud sound, sort of a crashing sound. He stood still, listening for more. He heard nothing. Perhaps a tree, ancient and burdened by the weather, had fallen over. He listened for another moment, then moved to take another step, but stopped. He thought he’d heard a thin cry.

Was it simply the wind? He needed to start making his way back the best he could.

And then he heard it again.

He turned toward the sound and began walking, and then trotting. The trees were less dense here and he could make his way easily. He moved more quickly, occasionally hearing a weak cry, then nothing. After a couple of minutes, the cry, when it came, was a bit louder. He kept going and soon came out of the trees, where he stopped abruptly. In front of him was a car. It was at the bottom of a steep, almost vertical cliff which rose at least 75 feet, maybe 100, over the ground he was standing on. He realized where he was: this was where a country road ran along a high escarpment before connecting to the Interstate, several miles from his house. This car had evidently lost traction and run off the road and over the side, tumbling to the bottom.

The car was mostly upright, having landed on its four tires, but had obviously tumbled. The roof was crushed in and the windshield and rear windows were both crushed, full of spiderwebbed cracks. He hesitated, frightened of what he was sure he’d find inside. He couldn’t imagine how anyone could live through a fall from that height, the car turning over and over before hitting the ground as hard as it must have.

Then he remembered the cry. He also smelled gasoline.

Screwing up his nerve, he moved forward. When he reached the car he went around it to look in through the passenger’s side window because the driver’s side window was all cracked, but the cracks were colored by an oozing red mess. The light was fading, but he could see there was no one in the front seat but the driver. From the blood on that side window, the man appeared to be dead. He wasn’t moving at all and the position of his neck was entirely unnatural.

Adam moved back along the car to see into the rear side window. There, through an intact window, he could see a woman lying on the seat. She too appeared to be dead. Her head had taken a huge blow and was bloody and misshapen.

The gasoline smell was stronger now. Adam could see he could be of no help to either of these people. The only thing he could do would be to find his way home and tell his father a car had gone over the side of the escarpment and there were two bodies in it. Someone else would have to come and take care of this.

Having decided this he started to move away, and then heard the weak cry again.

Ignoring the gasoline smell, he stepped back to the car and tried to open the passenger’s front door . It wasn’t locked, but it was jammed enough that he couldn’t get it open.

He moved to the rear door and tugged, hard, and it came open grudgingly. He had to work hard to get it open far enough so he could get inside.

The woman’s head was right there, and he tried hard not to look at it. It was dark in the car, and he couldn’t see what the cry was coming from.

He shook his head, then thought he should try the other rear car door. Before doing so, he tried to find a pulse on the woman the best he could. He felt nothing.

After walking around the car, he tried the driver’s side rear door and was able to wrench it open. In the dim light, he finally saw what was there, and he immediately stepped back. Then, forcing himself, he moved back to the open doorway and leaned into the car.

On the rear seat, between the dead woman’s legs, he could see most of a baby. It was covered in blood and a white, gucky looking substance. As he looked, the baby’s eyes fluttered open, and it made a thin, soft cry, then was quiet.

Oh my God, thought Adam. A baby, and it’s alive!

He felt completely unable to deal with this. But, at the same time, he did know what he had to do. He had to get that baby out of the car, make sure it was warm, and get it to someone who could take care of it.

All that seemed impossible. He didn’t know where he was, he was exhausted, he was cold, it was quickly becoming night, and, and, and…

He almost slumped to the ground, but stopped. Whether he could save the baby, he didn’t know. It seemed unlikely. But he knew he had to try.

He got his upper half into the rear of the car and reached for the baby. It was slippery, but still warm. It couldn’t be more than a few minutes old. It must have been born as the accident was occurring.

He gently cradled the baby in his hands and tugged. It came to him, but then he saw it was still attached to the mother by the umbilical cord. Almost crying now, the emotions of the moment getting to him, he reached into his pocket and took out his knife. He was about to cut the cord, then remembered—he needed to tie it off.

He had nothing to tie it with! Then it came to him. He unlaced one of his sneakers and cut about six inches off the lace. Then, feeling squeamish, he tied that around the cord a couple inches from where it was attached to the baby, then cut the cord.

The baby could then be lifted from the mother, and Adam did that. He didn’t want to bring it out into the cold night air, so he unzipped his jacket, lifted his tee shirt, and placed the baby against his chest. Pulling down his tee shirt, zipping up his jacket, he straightened up out of the car, supporting the baby against his abdomen.

He had to get home. He couldn’t climb to the road. He wouldn’t have been able to do that even without the baby. Walking along the bottom of the escarpment didn’t seem right, either, as he had no idea whether or not that would lead him to help. No, he had to try to walk home. It was the only thing that made sense to him, and what every emotional instinct he had was telling him to do.

He had to guess at which direction to walk. If it was the wrong way, if he didn’t reach his house, or any house, then both he and the baby would probably die. But they’d certainly die if he simply sat here and waited for help he had no reason to believe was coming.

He picked what seemed the most likely direction and started walking. Once he was away from the escarpment and back into the woods, the cold breeze became gentler, which helped, but the light from the moon and stars was diminished. Soon he could hardly see in front of him. Once he tripped on a small root that he hadn’t seen and almost fell. It took superhuman effort not to. He shuddered at the thought of falling on the baby, and after that was even more careful setting his feet down.

The baby moved just a little now and then, so Adam knew it was still alive. But babies needed to be fed right away, didn’t they? On TV, they always gave the baby to the mother for nursing right after birth. Did this one need milk right now?

There was so much he didn’t know! But he couldn’t let his fears stop him, even though every step he took, he realized he could be walking in the wrong direction.

He eventually came to a glade, and was finally able to see the sky clearly. It was mostly overcast. Where he stood, the snow had fallen unabated, and the ground was covered.

Adam was exhausted, and had to rest. He slumped down against a large oak tree, leaning back and closing his eyes. Only a few minutes and I’ll get up again, he thought, but wondered if he’d have the strength to go on, let alone stand up again. Until he sat down, he hadn’t realized how tired, hungry and cold he was.

He sat for only about five minutes; at that point he knew he had to keep going, or else remain where he was forever. Without the baby, he might have chosen that. His will to go on was being severely tested. He couldn’t stop his thoughts. Was he going in the right direction? How could he know? He knew he wanted to go north. He always walked south into the woods from home, and while he hadn’t paid much attention today where he was going, it only made sense that unconsciously he’d follow what was to him a familiar route. His problem was he’d gone farther than ever before, so now nothing was familiar.

If he only knew which direction was which. His house, and eventually the town, was north of him. But where was that?

He knew he had to get up. If he didn’t now, he wouldn’t have the strength as his body grew colder sitting on the ground. With great effort, and taking care to put no pressure on the baby, with his back pressed against the tree, he worked his way up till he was erect on two feet.

Feeling more and more uncertain he was heading the right direction, he took a step, then another, and then stopped.

Overhead, he saw the overcast separating. Above that was one of the most beautiful sights he’d ever seen. There, in all their glory, he could see what appeared to be all the stars in the universe. And he could easily locate the North Star.

He had been walking in the wrong direction, but only by a little. Now, he knew exactly where he should be headed, and with that knowledge came a lifting of the burden of uncertainty he’d been carrying. He turned to follow the star, and left the glade.

The walking was just as difficult now, perhaps more so as he was stiffer, and the night in the woods itself was still too dark to make walking easy. With the thought that if his energy held out he should be able to get home, he became even more cautious to not stumble.

There was snow on the ground even in the woods now, and it covered things he might trip over. So he had to walk slowly, which just allowed the cold to affect him more. He kept trying to keep an eye on the star above, but soon, the overcast was back, obstructing his vision again. He had to hope he was walking a straight line, but as he moved on a crooked path made necessary by the trees in front of him, uncertainty again began to eat away at the spirit he had so recently recovered.

With the cold and long walk sapping his energy with every step, with the star that had given him momentary guidance now covered, he could feel himself losing the battle to continue. He needed to rest again. He was also afraid if he stopped now, he’d never be able to start again, and the baby would certainly die with him.

He staggered on for a few more steps, and then, apparently appearing out of nowhere, he saw movement before him. He found his eyes blurry, and rubbed them. What was there in front of him came into focus, and he almost fell.

There in the dark, not more than ten paces ahead of him, he saw what could only be a wolf. It wasn’t a dog; it wasn’t a coyote. It was a wolf. And as he looked at it, it seemed to separate. Perhaps there had been more than one all the time, but they seemed to pull apart and now there were three of them. They looked at him, not making a sound. He stood, looking back, knowing he was at their mercy.

He and the baby, the three wolves, all stood quietly for a few moments. Then the wolf in front let out a yip, then a whine, and shook himself. He took a step toward Adam, stopped, then turned to walk off. He again stopped and turned to look over his shoulder, then walked another few steps. He turned back again, and again yipped, this time twice.

Adam couldn’t figure it out. The wolf seemed to want him to follow it! Why? Even if he wanted to, to do so he’d have to pass by the other two. He was afraid to do that. The first wolf watched him, then took a few more steps away, in a slightly different direction than Adam had been walking.

Adam didn’t know why, but he somehow thought he should follow. He took a cautious step forward and the other two wolves pricked up their ears and somehow appeared to become more alert, more on edge, but didn’t make any move toward him.

With all the courage he could muster, Adam walked forward and passed between them. The first wolf watched, then moved forward into the woods. Adam followed, and the other two wolves took up position behind him, following.

Adam was still exhausted, but somehow the adrenalin he’d gained when seeing the wolves seemed to have helped. He felt stronger, and had no problem keeping the leading wolf in sight.

They walked and walked, Adam no longer had any sense of time, and suddenly Adam realized his surroundings were not so unfamiliar. Yes! He saw tree formations and ground shapes that he knew! He wasn’t that far from home!

His eyes had been entirely focused on the front wolf, but now he took the time to look around him. He was certain he knew where he was now—only a short distance from home. A warmth filled him. He was going to make it.

He turned back to the wolf, and found it had vanished. He quickly turned to the ones in back of them. They too were gone. Not only that, but he could no longer see the tracks they’d been making in the thin crust of snow.

Too tired to think about anything but home and warmth and the life of the baby he carried, he pushed forward, forgetting his three saviors. In less than ten minutes, he’d reached the back boundary of their yard.

He was too spent to even consider how he might be met by his parents. Anger, disappointment, whatever, he needed to put the baby in the arms of his mother and then… Well, he didn’t know.

As he walked into the backyard, he couldn’t help but notice that every window it the house showed lights. He could see cars parked in the driveway and along what he could see of the road in front. He couldn’t think about it, however. He had no more energy to do anything but get inside.

Even climbing the back steps was a trial, his legs didn’t seem to have the strength to carry him, but he made it. He turned the knob on the back door and stumbled into the kitchen, which seemed to be full of people he didn’t recognize. Then, with a yell, his mother was pushing through the crowd, and he could just make out through hazy eyes his father coming behind her.

As his mother reached him, he cried, “Stop!” in as loud a voice as he could manage. He was sure she was going to hug him tightly. Unsettled by his cry, she did hesitate as she reached him, just long enough for him to unzip his jacket, lift his shirt, and lift the baby up and out to her.

He felt her take it just as he collapsed.

<< <> >>

Adam woke up slowly the next morning, until suddenly the previous night and then the entire day came back to him in a rush. He felt like retreating under the covers and not coming out again.

As he woke further, he sensed a presence in his room. Cautiously, he opened his eyes. His mother and father were there, just watching him. Trying to keep his eyes mostly closed, he studied their faces, especially his father’s. He couldn’t read any disappointment or anger. Maybe, just maybe…

He opened his eyes, and his mother smiled. “He’s awake!”

His father stepped forward. “Adam!” he said, and leaned down to kiss his forehead.

Adam couldn’t help it. He was 13 for heaven’s sake, but, he couldn’t stop the tears from coming. He’d been so scared! But his father had kissed him! Kissed him! Could he be OK with Adam?

His mother rushed to him and he had to sit up so she could envelop him in her arms. He felt like a fool, but cried even harder. His father put a hand on Adam’s shoulder and just left it there, not saying a word.

When he started feeling silly, Adam willed himself to stop crying, but didn’t let go of his mother till he could tell the tears were done. When he did let go, his mother gave him a final short squeeze and then stepped back.

“We have a lot to talk about,” his father said, sounding exactly how he always sounded. “Probably best done over breakfast. Well, if you want breakfast. It’s actually past lunch time!”

He laughed, and then told Adam to get up and take a shower and come downstairs when he was ready. His parents were leaving his bedroom when Adam remembered, and spoke up.

“The baby? Is he OK?”

His mother stopped and came back to him. “Yes, he’s fine. Maybe you saw how the house was full of people last night. They came because of you. We seemed to have most of our congregation here last night. One of them was Doctor Fredricks, and he checked out the baby. He’s fine. You can see for yourself. He’s still here.”

“He’s still here?”

His father laughed again. “Come down to breakfast when you’re ready. We have a lot to talk about!”

<< <> >>

Adam couldn’t believe how hungry and thirsty he was. His mother had made him a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and toast, and after all that he still wanted more.

While he’d been eating, his father had been talking to him. “We were so worried about you, Adam. Your principal called us and told us what happened at school, and that you were being expelled because they didn’t want what he said were sinners like you in that school. When he said you’d already been kicked out and were gone, both of us came home, but he didn’t call us till late afternoon, and by then you’d already come and gone.

“We called around and no one had seen you or knew where you were. We started to worry, because your principal made it sound like he’d lectured you about how wicked you were, and we were sure if he’d spoken to you like that, and told you he’d tell us what you’d done, that you’d have been terribly upset. We didn’t know how you’d react. You’ve never been in a situation like that before. So we were worried and rushed home only to find you were gone, and no one knew where you were. We were terrified.

“When people heard from us that you were missing, they started coming over. Many of the men and boys went out looking for you. The women were trying to console your mother. As time passed, more and more people came. We really didn’t know how much love this town had for us, and for you. Last night we learned.”

He took the cup of coffee Adam’s mother handed him and had a sip before continuing. He set the cup down on the table, then put a hand on Adam’s arm. “That’s what I need to talk about now, Adam. Love. I think you were worried when you left what we’d think of you. I think you might have been worried we wouldn’t love you any more. Is that true?”

Adam looked up at his father and saw love in his eyes. He dropped his, then, feeling ashamed, and he nodded.

His father squeezed his arm. “I thought maybe that was it. But Adam, we both love you more than life itself. You can kiss a dozen boys if you want, and our love for you would not be affected one iota.”

Adam raised his eyes again. “But, the Bible. We’re not supposed to love… We…” He stopped, unable to continue.

“Adam, the Bible says many things, and some of them conflict with others. The Bible has been read and interpreted by millions of people for thousands of years. Some people say it’s the absolute word of God. I think it’s a book inspired by God, not written or translated by him. We have to look at it for guidance, not absolutes. The Bible says to love God. I interpret that to mean we should love God’s creations. And it says love is the preeminent responsibility of man. Those are the things from the Bible I believe.

“What I don’t believe is that if two people love each other, there is anything wrong with that. Love is an emotion, inspired by God, and is perhaps our highest achievement. It isn’t wrong. Love is right. It’s to be treasured when it happens.

“There is no way I’d ever think less of you for celebrating whatever love you find in your life. Now, this boy in your class, I doubt what you two have is true love. But you did feel the beginnings of love, and the joy and excitement that accompanied that, and what you did was express the joy you were feeling. I’m happy you felt that joy. I’m sorry about what happened because of what you did. The adults you were dealing with were misguided. I won’t send you back to that school. We’ll find one that accepts people as they are and doesn’t judge them based on some perverted nonsense they believe.

“I would guess they’ve suspended the boy you kissed, too. Perhaps we can find a school where you both can go and be happy togther.”

Adam jumped up and hugged his father. When he finally sat back down, he had to wipe his eyes. He saw his father do the same thing. Then the man asked, “Tell me what happened yesterday. About being in the woods, and the baby.”

Adam took a deep breath, then began. He spoke for a long time. He knew how fanciful some of his tale sounded, but he thought his father deserved to hear what he’d gone through.

When he finished, his father didn’t speak immediately, just thinking about what Adam had related. Then he shook his head. “What you did sounds almost impossible. And the parallels to the Nativity story, well… I hardly know what to say. But one thing is very clear: you saved a human life. That baby is only alive because of what you managed to do.”

Adam sat up a little straighter, having just realized something. “Dad,” he said, “I’m also alive because of him. I was ready to just sit down and give up, go to sleep and not wake back up. But I didn’t because of the baby. I saved him because I knew I had to. I had to, so I saved him. But, he saved me as well by giving me a reason not to give up. I think we’re both still alive because of each other.”

Adam watched his father smile, then asked him, “Dad, why is the baby still here?”

“The doctor wasn’t the only one here last night. The sheriff was, too, and he said, because we have an emergency foster care license, we could keep the baby until its situation is clarified. Then he called this morning and said the parents had been identified. His department had located a relative and been told the parents had no living relative other than him and he wanted nothing to do with any baby.

“Your mother wants to keep him forever. We’ll see.” He grinned at Adam. “Seems you may have a new brother as a Christmas present this year.”

The End

Drawing by Paco, a simply incredible artist and an even better person.

Merry Christmas to all my faithful readers. Thank you so much for the time you spend with me.