Nativity by Frances Silversmith [fantasy]

Nativity by Frances Silversmith


Kris ignored the cat and continued to stare at her cup of Wassail. A tear dropped into the drink. Her divorce had gone through yesterday. After two years of separation, it shouldn’t hurt so much anymore, should it?


This time, Kris did look up. “What…?”

:Come on, let’s go out to the stable.:

She flinched, startled, and looked around for the source of the voice. How many cups of that Christmas punch had she had? It couldn’t have been more than two, surely.

“Meow.” The cat walked towards the door, tail up. When Kris opened the door, Whiskey stayed where she was, tilting her head up to look expectantly at her human.

“You want me to come out with you?”

Well, why not. It wasn’t as if she had anything better to do on this lonely Christmas Eve. “All right, let me get my coat.”

Why was she talking to her cat?

:Get the Wassail bowl and two cups, while you’re at it.:

Kris looked around once more. She was alone with the cat.

Feeling more than a bit silly, she went into the kitchen and collected the required items. Why two cups? What cruel tricks was her subconscious mind playing? But, she took the second cup.

Once outside, Whiskey led the way to the barn. Kris opened the door—and froze. The horses had gotten free of their stalls, as had the donkey. The sheep had come in from the meadow, and even the chickens had joined the party in the open area reserved for the cows.

Kris stepped all the way into the stable. She stared at the old hearth, left over from a time when the barn had been part living area. Someone had swept the straw away from the hearth, and a merry fire burned on it. Two piles of horse blankets lay close to it.

:Welcome, Kris. Come, sit. It’s a special night, let’s celebrate together.:

That was a different voice than before. Kris turned and met the eyes of…Dusty, her riding horse.

She shook her head, attempting to clear it. Wasn’t there an old story that told of animals talking to people on Christmas? A special night, indeed. She would try to understand all this—later. She set the Wassail bowl down next to the fire and sat down on one of the horse blanket piles.

The barn door opened. There stood Paul, her old high school sweetheart who lived on the neighboring farm. When her husband had left, Paul had offered to assist her with the farm work. He adamantly refused to accept payment for the considerable time he spent helping her.

“Hello, Kris,” Paul said. “You’ll think I’m silly, but I could have sworn that the animals called me. I had to come here and check on them.”

“Come on in,” Kris said, glancing at the animals in the barn. To the last chicken, they were watching Paul and her. Dusty and Whiskey both looked smug. “You know, I believe they did call you.” She watched Paul step in and close the door. “Would you like to have a cup of punch with me?”

“I’d love to,” he said and smiled, unexpected tenderness in his eyes.

Kris smiled back.


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