A Christmas story…
“What’s wrong, Mary?” asked her best friend, Catherine.
Mary rubbed her hands together and looked down.
“You know you can tell me anything.”
“I think I’m with child.”
“Birth control hasn’t been invented yet, so it’s understandable.”
“I’m not sure what to do,” said Mary, softly.
“Run away. There is no other choice. You will be shunned, destroy your family’s reputation, or be stoned to death. Run.”
“That’s what Joe said.”
“He’s right. Get a nice mule and flee.”
“Why won’t anything happen to him, if we stay?”
“Men don’t pay for what they do, we pay for what they do.”
“It’s not fair.”
“It’s deadly,” said Cathrine. “Where will you go?”
Mary shrugged. “Who knows? As far as the mule can carry me, I guess.”
“Walking is good for pregnant women and it will give the mule a break from carrying you.”
“I suppose that’s true,” said Mary.
“If only you were born in the future.”
“I think it’s going to be a girl,” said Mary, rubbing her stomach, but who knows, without an ultrasound, it’s just a guess, but she feels like a girl.”
Cathrine, took Mary’s hand. “Have you chosen any names?”
“Cleo for a girl and Hey Zeus for a boy. Joe wanted to name her Elsbeth and him Tony, but they sound funny, don’t they?”
“In this time and place, yes,” said Cathrine. “They sound funny.”
“We’re leaving tonight.”
“I’ll miss you, my dearest friend. If only someone would invent computers, we could stay in touch.”
“I’ll try to let you know where I am, eventually,” said Mary. “Joe’s going to tell everyone we never had sex and that some angel, or one of the gods miraculously impregnated me while I was reading in the courtyard.”
“Hmmm. I don’t think anyone will believe you, but who knows, maybe in the future they’ll make a religion out of it. You know, worship at your feet or something equally silly.”
“I’ll miss your sense of humor.”
“I told you not to have sex with him.”
“He said that if I loved him, I would do it.”
“That old line? Oh, please. I can’t believe you fell for that!”
“Neither can I.”
“Well,” sighed Cathrine, “best of luck. I hope you find a nice place to live and that Joe gets over his fear of commitment and marries you. Maybe he’ll finally get a job.”
“That would be nice,” she said.
“Do you have reservations where you can stay?”
Mary shook her head. “Joe said they would be able to follow us if we did that, so we’re going to wing it.”
“Bad idea. You could end up in a stable somewhere, if all the rooms are taken.”
“That’s what I said, but he said he knows what he’s doing and to just be quiet, now that I’ve ruined his life.”
“HIS life? YOU ruined HIS life?”
“He said this is all my fault.”
“I never did like him,” said Cathrine, pulling a blade out of her pocket. “I can get rid of him for you, if you like.”
“No. But thank you. He’s going to lead the mule.”
Mary nodded again.
“What if you have to deliver the baby by yourself?”
“Cave women did it, I guess. I mean the first woman to ever get pregnant must have been horrified, but she probably lived through it.”
“I guess. Joe won’t be any help, you know that, right?”
“I know. He faints at the sight of blood.”
“And if he tells you there are men who are wise, just kick him in the shins, as hard as you can. Be sure to feed and water the mule, he’s more important, and smarter, than Joe.”
“I think my mother knows what’s happening.”
“I don’t doubt it.”
“Well, I better get going,” said Mary, reaching for her friend. “I’ll miss you so much.”
“I’ll come and visit, once you get settled.”
“I would love that. You can be her Goddess Mother.”
“I would like that. Thank you. And it’s almost Yule, so have a nice pagan holiday and celebrate the earth, not the idiot men who are trying to steal everything from us.”
“Promise,” snickered Mary. “Double-dog promise.”
And so Mary and Joe went on their way and ended up in a stable, where Mary delivered the baby by herself, while Joe waited outside and talked to the men at the Inn. Same old same old. The mule ran away and had a bad back for the rest of his life. The so called wise men are still lost somewhere, trying to read the stars and Cleo was a sweet little girl who eventually ended up running the world.