The sun was high in the sky when we arrived in Bethlehem. By the time it was low enough to shine in my eyes, Joseph still had not been able to find us a room. My bum was sore and I smelled like donkey and I had been sitting at the well for hours waiting for him to return and take me to a nice comfy inn. It had been such a long journey and I needed to lie down. I felt fat, puffy, sweaty and was beginning to think maybe we were going to have to sleep in the street like so many others I could see bedding down for the night outside the overcrowded inns. I felt helpless and alone in a strange city, and pissed off at the Romans for making us come all this way when I was in my tenth moon.
Then the donkey decides to wee.
I should have expected it. She had taken such a huge drink when we arrived and now here it came pouring out in a great streaming torrent which hit the dry ground and spattered up all over the hem of my skirts. It was the last straw and in that uniquely pregnant way, I burst into tears.
I felt an arm around my shoulders and a kind voice soothed “Now now love. Theres no need to cry. Its just a bit of wee. Dont fret.”
“Its not…the wee” I managed to get out between sobs. “Ive been sitting here for hours… and I dont know where my husband is and… I think we may have to sleep in the street and I… I… Im tired of being pregnant!”
The stranger laughed and I looked up at her face. She was a soft, matronly looking sort, her hair tied back in a style more practical than beautiful, about my mothers age. I laughed too.
“Thats better. All that crying isnt good for your daughter!”
“Oh yes. I can always tell. Definitely a girl, this one.”
“But… well I think its a boy.”
She laughed again “You first time Mums always hope for a boy. But you just wait. When you see that little girl for the first time your heart will just melt. Daughters are lovely. I have five!”
“Well anyway I dont care what it is, so long as I dont have to give birth in the street!”
“Its chaos isnt it – bloody Romans. Youd think if theyre organised enough to build an empire, theyd be able to come up with a better way to run a census! Our place is packed out.”
“You have an inn?”
“Yes, and I wish I could offer you a place, love. Tell you what though, why dont you come back with me – its just over there – and at least have a sit down and something to eat. I might be able to have a word with my husband and see if we cant fit two more in. Or perhaps three – you dont look like you have long to go.”
Continued Part 2 …