26 April, 2019

What About All The Water? #AtoZChallenge

"It's not fancy, but it's dry," Joe pointed out as they entered the broad doorway. It was a pointless thing to say. It wasn't raining or wet outside. They could sleep under the stars and stay just as dry, with less of a stench, probably. A roof and walls protected them from more than just the weather, though.

He helped his fiance waddle into the room. She wasn't walking very well. It had been a difficult journey, but one they'd had no choice to make. "Ah, ah - AH!" She moaned with every step, and he could see on her face that she was in more pain than she'd been letting on.

"Oh no. Not now. Now?" What on earth would they do? The trip was hard enough already, and now this. "How long?"

"Not long at all. Find something." A choked breath squeezed out. "Someplace safe to put him." Joe nodded, and began searching the stable. They'd been given a dim lantern, and he moved quickly, trying not to leave her in the dark too long. 

"A trough! It's the perfect size - wide enough, but narrow enough to be snug." He searched her face for approval.

Mary let out a prolonged groan. "Well ... A trough ..." A series of short, sharp breaths, and she continued, "May be the right size, but - AUGH! - But what will we do with all the water in it?" She reclined as best she could. "Joe, I love you, but please look for another option. Quick!"

"Right." The animals' water trough would serve in a pinch, but Mary had a point. They'd have to dump out the water in order to use it. She would never do that to the lovely people who were putting them up for the night. Joe went back into one of the stalls and returned moments later, triumphant.

"I've got it!" He held up a small wooden box, elevated conveniently on criss-cross legs. It was full of hay. "What about this?" He showed the manger to Mary, who smiled through her obvious pain. 

"It'll do." She panted briefly as he set it down near where she was reclining, then she had a second thought. "Maybe leave some of the hay in the stall? So the animal can - AUGH!" Joe got the point. He scooped out the top third of hay and went back to place it on the floor of the stall. Animals could eat off the floor, but if they'd dumped the water out of the trough, it would just be gone.

"Joseph!" Mary screamed. "It's coming!"

The innkeeper's wife showed up at that moment with a clean blanket. She had noticed their situation when they knocked on the door earlier, so impatient to rest for the night that they'd taken the animal stall out back. Joe looked helplessly at the older woman, who stepped in between him and his betrothed, thrusting the blanket into his hands. "Here, let me," she said, and got down on her knees by Mary to assist with the birth.

  Thank you for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! My theme is "Audience Participation" (read about it, here) and now it is your turn. Each day will be a new story based on suggestions from your comments. Suggest anything: a word, scenario, character, location... I will be keeping a list of suggestions, so if yours isn't used tomorrow, it may show up later. (Even after AtoZ.)

Today's post was inspired by the prompt "trough", suggested by Jz (of A Reluctant Bitch), given in comments on my "P" post (here)


  1. The end was totally unexpected. a beautiful story .I read it twice.

  2. This was better than the way you described it to me.

  3. Kalpana - I'm glad it was a surprise. I thought I was giving it away the whole time.

    Brett - I wrote the last half first, and it was really short, so I filled in the beginning a little.

  4. An old story told in a different way...

  5. Totally not where I'd thought you might go with that but you rocked it, woman!

  6. A very down-to-earth and practical version of a universal story, with a slightly altered detail of the innkeeper's arrival. You are a born storyteller.

    ...and now, the end is near . . . XYZ


    #AtoZChallenge very short stories

  7. Liz - I used to do this in my Christmas letters - instead of telling people what I did all year, I'd twist a Christmas tale.

    Jz - Thank you! I have enjoyed the randomness of your prompts.

    Gail - Thank you! I love focusing on random details. Not exactly a "flip-side" of the story, but things that hopefully others haven't thought of.


I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.