Branching Out 2018 story contd….

Somewhere in England, a young unmarried girl becomes pregnant.

Mary Jones is 18 and engaged. Her parents are shocked and hurt. Joe, her fiancé is devastated. His beloved Mary has been unfaithful to him and she wont even tell him with whom or why? Mary feels so desperate. No-one believes her! She is still a virgin, still completely innocent. She was to have been married in just a few weeks time. Both families were pleased and she had loved Joe for so long. She could never let another man touch her. But how can she explain, she doesn’t even understand herself. It all happened so suddenly – like a beautiful dream. A dream that had turned into a nightmare! She had been alone in her room, the house was quiet, her parents asleep. She had been half asleep, thinking of Joe. They had been out dancing and she was dreaming of his arms around her, his gentle kiss as they said goodnight when he left her at her door. She had watched him walk away, her heart so full of love for him. Then, suddenly she felt a presence in her room. She opened her eyes as she sat up quickly. For a moment all she could see was a blinding light, then the light dimmed and the figure of a man stood there. Mentally she thought to herself – “I should be frightened – I should scream!” But all she felt was a strange feeling of calmness. “Do not be afraid Mary,” he said, and as he spoke all thought of fear left her. He told her that she had been chosen by God to be the mother of His Son. That God would protect her and she need fear nothing. Mary remembered a feeling of complete trust and acceptance, a feeling of wonder that she, an ordinary teenage girl should be chosen by God!

Only later, much later, did she start to feel afraid. The first few weeks had passed like a hazy dream. She was not altogether sure if in fact she had dreamed it all. But no. Her periods stopped, she felt various changes, even morning sickness had come to her. That was when her mother noticed. Then the questions had begun. Questions and more questions. At first her parents had been angry, sure it was Joe’s baby. But finally, she had convinced them it was not. Then the accusations had begun, the tears from her mother, the awful silence from her father. They felt hurt, they said, that she couldn’t, wouldn’t trust them with the truth. They asked if she had been attacked, raped. They threatened to call the police! They mocked her explanation and turned away in hurt anger. But telling Joe? That had been the hardest of all. At first, he had reacted rather like her parents, then he had gone away. Leaving her with the awful memory of the hurt and rejection in his eyes. “Oh God, why me? Why?” So many nights she had asked that as she cried away the long, empty hours. Time passed, her parents decided to stand by her. They couldn’t understand, but she was their daughter and they loved her. Couldn’t bear to see the desperate loneliness and hurt she was suffering. Her constant protesting of her innocence, never wavering from her story, had made them begin to wonder and question their beliefs. It seemed incredible, impossible, but they were good people, Christian people, and they began fearfully to wonder …………? But it was a small village, people gossiped and Mary was so young and with Joe refusing to see her, they felt perhaps she should get away for a while. So, they sent her to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, in London, for a few weeks.

Mary was now about 6 months pregnant. She was happy with Elizabeth and her husband Zac, but she missed her parents and she missed Joe so much. Finally, she decided it was time to go home. If Joe didn’t want her anymore then she would just have to accept it somehow. But she had to try just once more. “Oh God – please help me. Touch Joe’s heart and help him to believe and understand. Please God, please!” she prayed.

The train pulled into Thorpe Station and as Mary wearily stepped off the train, she saw him. He was waiting at the ticket barrier, his face so anxious, like a little lost boy. She felt the child inside her move, as if it leapt for joy. Then suddenly he was running towards her, they were hugging, laughing and crying all at once. She was home – home where she belonged. Later Joe told her how night after night he kept dreaming of her, seeing her happy, then alone and sad. In each dream he felt he should go to her – believe her and stand by her. But each morning he would try to shrug off the dream. Then finally a vision had come to him in the dream and told him that Mary had spoken the truth and that he, Joe, was to be the step-father to the Son of God!

Winter came, Mary and Joe had been married quietly in the village church. Only their parents had attended. Then Joe lost his job. The factory was laying off men because orders were down. No-one wanted well made furniture anymore. Plastic, leather and chrome were the new fashion. Then Joe heard of a job in nearby Norwich. But with no transport of his own and buses not very frequent, the young couple decided they must move to the city. Her parents tried to persuade Mary to wait until after the baby was born. “Let Joe go on ahead, get the job and find somewhere for you to live first. You can’t travel around in your condition!” But Mary was determined not to be separated from Joe again. “God will look after me,” she said smiling “He’ll find somewhere for us!” As she said the words to comfort her parents, she felt a warm glow inside her.

It had been snowing and was bitterly cold as Joe and Mary got off the bus in Norwich Bus Station. “Let’s get a cup of tea then we’ll find somewhere to stay for tonight.” Joe suggested as they walked towards a café. But as they got to the door the owner put up the ‘closed’ sign, shook his head and locked the door. As they walked along St Stephen’s Street the Christmas lights twinkled brightly. Glittering Christmas trees, stars and snowmen, decked out the shop windows. But it was getting late and all the shops were now closed. The snow was beginning to fall heavily now. People hurried by on their way home, ignoring the young couple as they stood gazing at the scene around them. “We’ll get a taxi,” Joe said as he looked in concern at his wife’s face. She was cold and tired, but she smiled back at him. “Can we afford it?” she asked. He smiled and reached for his wallet. But his smile froze as fear shot through him. It was gone! Carefully, there in the street they searched their pockets and bags. Eventually, defeated, Joe put his arm consolingly around Mary’s shoulder. Biting back tears, they clung together in their fear. Alone in a strange city, no money, no food and nowhere to stay. He had to find somewhere, do something. Joe felt afraid and guilty that he had brought her to this, but he knew he must be strong for her. They seemed to walk for miles, although it was probably just a short distance really. It was getting harder to walk in the snow and biting wind. People were hurrying home to their fires and waiting families, everything was closing and the darkness made the weather seem even worse. Joe tried a couple of guest houses, “Sorry we are full up. It’s Christmas you know!” said one. “Please help us, just for tonight. Anything will do. My wife must have somewhere to rest and get warm!” Joe pleaded. “Sorry, can’t help – try further down, you might be lucky.” And the door was slammed shut. “There’s a church,” said Mary “we could go in there. At least it will be warmer and dry.” But the door was firmly locked. “We must find somewhere soon Joe, I can’t walk much further.” Joe looked at her pale, strained face.

Eventually, they turned into Bethel St, a blue light was twinkling over a door in sharp contrast against a snow covered building and street. Joe helped Mary through the door and she sat down wearily on the bench inside while Joe went up to the counter. The policeman at the desk was feeling fed up. Tonight, was Christmas Eve and he should have been at home celebrating with his family. He would have been if those hooligans hadn’t got drunk and caused a fight in Tombland outside the ‘Samson and Hercules’. Now here he was manning the station while the others went to deal with the trouble. His wife was upset when he phoned to say he would be home late. He had promised to get home early tonight. He had to dress up and be Father Christmas to the twins, then he’d promised to go to midnight mass with her. At least that had been the plan.

Now it was already after 11 o’clock and no hope of him getting home yet. He frowned at the young couple as they came through the door. Another nuisance to bother him. Why weren’t they home, especially in her condition, out in this weather! He listened disinterestedly as the young man went on about his stolen wallet and having nowhere to stay. Wearily he started filling out a form. Hardly looking at the man as he fired the usual questions at him. Then suddenly the woman gave a loud cry, as she doubled over in agony. He looked up, “Oh no! not here, not tonight,” he groaned. But as the girl’s eyes met his he felt ashamed. “Come on love, you’ll be alright” he said gently, as he hurried around the desk to her side. The young man was on his knees beside her, his face ashen. “Come on son, pull yourself together. Let’s get this little lady more comfortable. There is a bed through there she can lie down on. She looks worn out!” He ushered them towards the door of a prison cell. “You get her in there and I’ll get some more blankets. Then I think a nice cup of tea and a biscuit might help – huh.” The girl smiled gratefully at him. She looked much calmer now. Once they were settled he hurriedly got on the phone. ‘The hospital wasn’t too far away – shouldn’t take too long to get an ambulance.’
The contractions were getting closer and stronger now, the pain more intense. The boy looked petrified, but he was a brave lad. Never left her side, held her hand and tried to reassure her. “Oh well,” thought the policeman, “never did get to see my own kids born. Looks like my First Aid training is going to be useful. Where is that ambulance?”
But there was no more time to think. This baby wasn’t going to wait any longer. When it was all over, David, the policeman, looked down at mother and child. This was the proudest, happiest moment of his life! Truly something he would never forget! All fear had gone from the boy’s face as he gazed at his young wife and the child in her arms. As David watched, the baby seemed to stare back at him. Its blue eyes were looking at him as if in recognition. A strange feeling came over him as he stared at the tiny child, wrapped in a towel in his mother’s arms. Then the wail of the approaching ambulance siren broke the silence.