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1206 PD: The Christmas Bus Ride

Yevet Tenney Published on 11 December 2006

Here’s a short Christmas story about a fictional character named Jimmy. Hope you enjoy!

It wasn’t like I really meant to argue with Mom and run away. Mom’s not the arguing kind, but when she announced we were going to have one more foster kid come to our home, I couldn’t take it. We had seven adopted kids already who came from foster care.

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A newborn! That was like saying solitary confinement to the family!

I was the only member of the family that was a blood relative. Oh, I have other brothers and a sister. They are older, though, and married. They think it is fine to do such a Christian service. “Just look at all the orphans in the world! What a blessing!” But I notice they don’t come around as much anymore.

It’s a madhouse around our house most of the time. We have a couple of oppositional defiant kids. I didn’t know what that meant until we got some. The psychologist says it’s a disorder that comes from getting taken from your parents. Well, he didn’t tell us that it meant somebody who has to argue about everything. If you say it is black you can bet they will argue that it’s red. You can agree with them that it is red, and they’ll start to argue that it’s black just to irritate you. One time, Orson, my 10-year-old brother, had to run around the garden.

Mom said, “You have fifteen times.”

He scowled, clenched his fists and growled, “No, I got seventeen.”

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Mom smiled and said, “You can do seventeen if you want to.”

That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Well, I just hate arguing. I hate fighting! That’s all we ever do. Nobody gets along. You go on a family vacation and it’s a contest to see how quickly they can get Dad to turn the van around and go home. Then they sit in the driveway and scream about whose fault it is. When Dad can’t take it anymore, he sends them around the garden. That doesn’t help with vacations much!

This newborn kid thing ain’t gonna work! We’re just gonna have a squalling baby to add to the screaming kids.

“Why don’t those stupid parents take care of their own kids? Why did they have them in the first place?” I asked. “There is such a thing as birth control.”

“If you were in the same situation, you might do the same thing,” Mom replies.

Mom just has all kinds of pity in her heart. “Christian charity,” she calls it. I don’t think so! I’m never gonna have kids! You can bet on that! I don’t even like girls!

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Mom says, “You will when you get to be about 16 or 17. At 12, your hormones haven’t kicked in yet.”

I got news for her! My hormones ain’t kickin’ in.

I’m runnin’ away from all that. I caught the bus at midnight. Well, I thought it was a bus. Turns out it was a one-way ticket to a snow bank at the bottom of a canyon. The bus driver was weird. When I got on the bus, I thought he was strange, all dressed in a white suit, like a doctor or a dentist or something. I didn’t see anybody else on the bus; that should have been a clue. But I figured that with this late bus there wouldn’t be many passengers. So I got in. Big mistake!

When we started, that bus driver looked back in the mirror and smiled. Bus drivers don’t smile; they just drive!

He revved up the bus motor like he was in a drag race and peeled rubber when we took off. He was driving too fast when it started to snow. The trees were flying past us like a blur. He didn’t even try to stop when we started to slide. He just crashed into the tree and slid down the canyon, clipping off trees as he went. It’s amazing I got out of it alive. I’m not sure how I did banging from one lousy seat to another. When the bus came to a stop, we were a crumpled mess at the bottom of a canyon. Nobody would find us down here.

When I got out of the bus, that bus driver didn’t say a word. He just smiled and walked away into the snowstorm. He didn’t even ask if I was all right! “If I ever get out of this, a lawyer is going to hear about this big time!” I thought.

The snow pelted against my face. I knew I had to get somewhere fast. I turned back to the bus, but I couldn’t find it. I swear I didn’t go two feet from it. I must have followed the bus driver farther than I thought.

It stopped snowing, and the stars came out. I pulled my coat around me, though I didn’t particularly feel cold. The moonlight shimmered on the blue snow between the trees. If I hadn’t been so alone and terrified, I would have admired the beauty, but under the circumstance, the forest was a prison of dark shadows. I walked toward a clearing.

Off in the distance I heard the tinkling of a bell. My heart leaped! I followed the sound of the bell into a clearing. Across the meadow of snow there was a tiny light. At first I thought it was a candle, but the nearer I approached, I could see that it was a campfire. To my happiness, I saw shadowy figures moving around the campfire.

Soon I was sitting in the firelight with a robe wrapped around my shoulders. The sheepherders were kind, though they didn’t speak English. Some things don’t need words to explain. They knew I was in trouble.

Dozing by the fire, I heard a tremendous excitement. I didn’t know what the sheepherders were saying, but I knew something had happened. They were gonna find out what. I followed.

The meadow gave way to a thicket, then a hill covered with boulders. We came to a cave that seemed lit by a fluorescent light, but there was no light source. I don’t know where the sheepherders went. I sort of lost them.

As I drew near, I could see a girl, scarcely older than myself, holding a tiny baby. She cuddled it close as she sang the sweetest lullaby I had ever heard. I couldn’t make out the words, but the music filled me with a strange peace. I was drawn toward the girl. I tried to stay in the shadows, but I could not. She saw me.

She beaconed to me. I stumbled awkwardly toward her. My knees wobbled, and I sank to my knees before her. She knelt and looked into my eyes. I blushed, for I felt that she could read my thoughts. She held out her baby for me to hold.

The baby lay in my arms, and I looked down into his cherubic face. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I began to sob. Though sobs racked my body, the little mother did not take her baby from me. The warmth of his tiny finger against my wet face seemed to say that he loved me and he understood my deep sorrow. It was all right that my parents had abandoned me to foster care children. It was okay that our family struggled to get along.

It was no longer a problem for me to share all that I possessed with strangers. This baby scooped all the unhappiness from my soul and filled the caverns in my heart with love.

I hugged the little one close.

“Jimmy! Jimmy!” The voice of my mother came into my consciousness. I found myself hugging my pillow that was wet with tears. I looked at the clock, and the bus ticket marked for midnight lay on the night stand. I grabbed it and tucked it under my pillow as Mother came into the room.

“Jimmy, I want you to meet your new little sister,” Mom said as she handed the bundle of pink towards me.

Tears unexpectedly slid down my face as I looked down at the new little wrinkled face. Mom looked at me strangely. “Son, what is wrong?”

“Nothing, I was just thinking.” A tear splashed on the tiny face. I washed it away with my cheek.

Mom’s voice was apologetic. “Some day, Jimmy, you will understand. She needed a home.”

“I know how she feels, Mom. We all need a home.”

“Dad and I thought we would let you name her.”

“Me?”

Mom nodded her head. “What would you like to call her?”

I thought for a moment. The words of Jesus drifted into my mind – “If ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me.”

“Charity,” I murmured kissing her tiny cheek. “Charity,” I repeated. PD

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