Word Count 503
He watched as they finished decorating the tree near the fireplace. With Teresa’s instructions, Murdoch placed Scott’s new shiny balls up high. With drinks finished, they softly said goodnight and went to bed.
He stayed and watched. The top gold ball flickered with red highlights from the coals of the dying fire. Allowing the child within out to play, he crawled beneath the tree. Wrapped in a blanket, he searched for that ball. As the coals died and the ball went dull, he curled up and slept.
Next morning, Murdoch found his gift under the tree – Johnny.
So this is Christmas. Under the evergreen tree adorned with decorations is my
gift, my dark-haired, tough as nails, self-contained, gunfighter son, Johnny.
Quietly, I sit and watch the peacefulness in his face, the youthfulness of his
body, and the rise and fall of his chest as he sleeps and breathes in the
cedar-tainted air. No matter how much I age, he will always be my child. It’s
great comfort that he’s relaxed. Time flees when the sunlight peeks through the
curtain, crawls toward his closed eyes and pounces on them.
Twinkling sapphire eyes open, see me and smiles.
He crawls out from under the tree and I gather him to me by pulling on his
ranch-roughen right hand. His wide grin broadens as my strength, unchecked,
bounces him off my chest. With an apology that he waves off, we follow the
aroma of coffee and biscuits and hear the sudden chuckle from his sibling in the
kitchen. My life is complete when I see his brother’s blond locks, loving look
and ready smile for us both. Yes, this is Christmas and my gifts came early,
both of my sons, Johnny and Scott, are home to stay.
She’d lost so much, father and security or so she thought. Life changed when the Lancer brothers came home. It was tense, but Murdoch stroked her hair and gave back her love and confidence. Struggling to determine her place with the boys, Teresa settled on being a sister. They became brothers.
It was dark when she came down the stairs to start the biscuits and coffee. She recognized the soft breathing coming from under the tree and grinned. Murdoch had a living gift. Hurrying, she made a double batch, for the men would be hungry bears when they woke.
Up early this morning, he thought back of the cold days and white snow of youth. He would spend the time with Grandfather’s relatives or with the servants when Grandfather was busy. The decorated tree was always well balanced with meticulous care, with many presents under it, and the fireplaces roared with heat, yet he stayed cold. He would creep back to his room and dream of another world of people who cared and loved.
Hearing the humph in his brother’s voice, Scott chuckled and grinned as his family came into the kitchen. Johnny was his gift too.
Sadly, LaJuan is no longer with us. She passed away March 16, 2017. Her stories are archived here for her friends to remember her by. Enjoy her legacy to Lancer.