Noel's First Christmas
"Take my hand," Taylor said smiling at the wobbly woman entering the room illuminated by the fireplace and lighted Christmas tree.
"I can't believe I let you top O Tannenbaum with a polar bear." Sylvia intertwined her fingers with Taylor's.
"I hate angels," Taylor replied looking up at the twinkling polar bear wearing a red hat and scarf.
"We could have gotten a star." The orange glow of the fireplace warmed her skin as the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree sparkled in her eyes.
"Polar bears, squirrels, and birds belong in trees. Angels, stars, and the little drummer boy need to stay in the songs and storybooks where they can't cause trouble."
"I never saw a polar bear in a tree." Sylvia really thought the topping was cute but she enjoyed teasing Taylor about her little quirks. Sylvia welcomed the times when Taylor felt comfortable expressing her very unique vision of love with her quirky ideas.
"There is more chance of you seeing a polar bear in a tree than an angel." Taylor replied. "Besides, it looks like a teddy bear up there glowing with anticipation. And what's Christmastime without anticipation?"
"Please, forgive me for doubting. It just feels so taboo." Sylvia let loose a mock shudder for emphasis.
"How would I know about things that are taboo?" Taylor placed a light kiss upon Sylvia's cheek. "The twelve days of Christmas have come and gone and I'm nobody's angel on a tree or not."
"Your little secret is safe with me." In so saying, Sylvia stepped into Taylor's open arms as they stood admiring the twinkling tree. "I for one enjoy being all wrapped up in the angelic ways you try to hide behind blue eyes."
"This will be the last Christmas as just the two of us." Taylor smiled into the strawberry scented hair caressing her cheek.
"A much nicer way to celebrate than with that Christmas hangover you last year." Sylvia reminded her.
"It was a little embarrassing to find out that I got drunk off eggnog and told everyone I was under the influence of cinnamon." Taylor chuckled with the vague memory.
"My dad threw up on Christmas Day every year." Sylvia gave her a reassuring hug. "You're just carrying on a long-standing family tradition."
"Getting my face plastered on the 10 o'clock news with the caption Santa Got Arrested didn't help," sighed the embarrassed woman.
"What was worse was watching that shot of you screaming at the police, åSanta's going to kick your ass' over and over. You looked pretty crazy with that red hat flapping in you face."
"I got nuttin' for Christmas that year except the Christmas turkey blues." Taylor grinned.
"Oh, stop the pity party." Sylvia admonished with a light slap to Taylor's flannel clad arm. "When you got home I gave you that stuffed Rudolph, the red nose reindeer wrapped in pretty paper."
"I remember." Taylor hugged the woman tighter. "It had all those silver bells."
"Next year, we'll be celebrating with our little girl." Sylvia beamed with joy. "It's so chic to be pregnant at Christmas."
"It's getting close." Taylor lovingly rubbed the woman's protruding abdomen.
"Listen." Sylvia tilted her head to the side trying to identify the noise coming from up on the housetop. "Do you hear what I hear?"
"Sounds like little jingle bells." Taylor looked thoughtful. "I should put another log on the fire."
"Let it snow." Sylvia's face lit up with the prospect.
"I don't think that's snow, sweetheart." Taylor regretted bursting her lover's bubble. "It sounds like sleet."
"As long as it's a white Christmas."
"Baby, it's cold outside. Let's cozy up and start some chestnuts roasting over an open fire. That should get us both in the mood to spread a little love on Christmas." Taylor wiggled her eyebrows, suggestively.
"You'll be having a blue Christmas on the couch if you spread that love around too much." Sylvia chided, playfully. "Santa may put some coal in your stocking."
"Aw, Hon, you know all I want for Christmas is you." Taylor pushed her lip out in a mock pout.
"The baby must have decided to deck the halls because my water just broke." Sylvia calmly pushed Taylor in the direction of the door. "So much for the silent night of cuddling we had planned."
"It won't be fun getting you to the hospital in this winter wonderland now that the baby decided to come home for the holidays." Taylor remarked grabbing the pre-packed bag and helped Sylvia on with her coat before escorting her into the dark, chilly storm. "First thing in the morning I'm going to e-mail Santa and have a little discussion about timing."
"Get off the phone and drive." Sylvia growled at the woman who was doing a bad impression of the guy in the Verizon commercial.
"I wanted to call the hospital but I can't get a connection." Taylor flipped the phone closed and tossed it behind the seat. "I can't see well enough to go any faster." Even with the headlights on bright, the woman could only see ten feet in front of her. "I'm not sure what's worse, the sleet from earlier or this driving rain."
"Do I need to drive as well as have this baby?" Sylvia's patience was being severely tested.
"Just relax." Taylor was torn between concentrating on driving at a safe speed and getting Sylvia to the hospital before the baby made her entrance into the world.
"Relax? Did you just tell me to relax?" Taylor rolled her eyes thinking, åuh, oh.' "Why don't you try pushing a watermelon out your ass and see if you can relax?" Taylor couldn't stop the burst of laughter that image produced which further incited the pregnant woman. "What the hell is so funny?" The words came in between grunts of pain.
"Nothing's funny. I'm just nervous. That's all." Taylor leaned closer to the windshield trying to see through the relentless downpour. "You know I laugh when I'm nervous."
"It's not like you to act like a coward of the county." Taylor's actions were starting to alarm Sylvia.
"I'm just worried about the time it's going to take in this weather." Taylor smiled reassuringly at the woman. "Even when we get off this mountain, we still have twenty miles to go."
"Don't speak about the dangers. I'm under pressure enough." The woman's scream reverberated through the cab of the truck as pain shot through her body. "Pull over."
"What? Now?" Taylor was flustered. "There's no rest stop here."
"The baby is not going to wait for you to decide when it's convenient." Sylvia pointed out.
"You'll use any excuse at all to get me between your legs." Taylor tried a little humor to help alleviate Sylvia's stress.
"I don't need your annoying comedy routine at the moment. Just pull the truck over and help me get this baby out of my body." The pregnant woman emphasized the immediacy of the situation by grabbing Taylor's arm and sinking her nails into her flesh.
"Okay. Okay. Here we are. Jeez. I feel like the theme from Psycho should be playing in the background." Taylor didn't bother pulling to the side of the road. She knew there was no room for that. She just stopped where she was and turned to the woman.
"Just be glad I don't have a machine gun handy or you're going to be hearing me tell the police I've committed murder if you don't stop screwing around." Sylvia hissed between clenched teeth.
"Just lay back against the door and let's see what we can do." She helped the woman lay back against the door. Then she arranged the woman's legs so she could have access to where the baby would be emerging. "I think you need to just focus on me and push when you feel the pain."
"I'm stuck on top of Old Smokey with Dr. Know-It-All." Sweat poured from the woman's flush skin as her breath came in panting gasps.
"Itås okay, Sweetheart. I understand, there will be a moment of forgiveness when we get through this rough part." Taylor knew the combination of pain and fear was causing Sylvia's mercurial outbursts.
"You're going to start that now?" The woman felt another pain and pushed as hard as she could.
"I think I see the head." Taylor found a blanket behind the seat and spread it out to wrap the baby in. "Just count to ten and then push as hard as you can."
"Why did I agree to have this child? Why couldn't we just adopt? I only agreed to do this because I was promised drugs." The woman kept up her ranting in between bouts of pushing. Taylor tried not to show her amusement at Sylvia's ramblings while helping the little human out of the confinements of her mother. "This is all your fault. You just wait. I'm planting this seed of torture in your body when we get home. Revenge will be mine." A loud grating noise and a thump that jolted the truck startled the two women. "What was that?"
Taylor looked out the back window. "A rock." She replied, calmly, seeing the mudslide building and not wanting to scare Sylvia anymore than she was.
"A rock." Sylvia twisted her face in a grimace as she mimicked Taylor's words. "You're telling me a rock just tattooed our truck."
"A really big rock." Taylor replied, unconvincingly. "This pregnancy sure has done wonders for your temperament."
"Cry me a river," Sylvia hissed. "Why not just let loose with a flood of tears? No one will notice in this downpour."
"This is the grossest thing I've ever seen in my life." Taylor said as she worked the baby loose from the woman's body.
"You have a lot of nerve calling my baby gross, you insensitive bitch." One final push freed the baby completely and the woman lay back exhausted. "Get us to the hospital before you drive me crazy."
"Aren't you supposed to be feeling a glowing sensation of contentment right now? I wasn't calling the baby gross. I was calling this other stuff gross." Taylor wrapped the baby in the blanket and handed her to the mother. "She's beautiful just like her Mama. Welcome to the world, Noel."
"The first Noel of the family." The woman leaned heavily against the door trying to soothe the crying baby in her arms.
"This rain is coming down hard and that lightning is scary."
"Just get us to the hospital. She'll settle down in a little bit."
"Here, let's wrap her in this." Taylor slid out of her black leather jacket and laid it on the seat. She wrapped Noel snug in the jacket and placed her carefully back in her mother's arms. "The added warmth will help calm her."
"Okay, Taylor, over the river and through the woods should be a piece of cake, right." False bravado tinged her words.
"I sure hope the road holds out." They slowly moved down the old dirt road, now slick with mud. Taylor had a difficult time keeping the truck from sliding to the edge.
"You can't hope us down the mountain." Sylvia muttered, warily.
"It's now or never." Taylor stated when she saw the wall of mud pouring down from the top of the mountain.
"What about backing up?" Sylvia asked, unable to see the impending disaster from her slight reclining position.
"There's too much mud. There's no way we'll make it through." Taylor stomped the gas pedal to the floor. Mud rushed against the truck causing it to spin. The tires lost traction and slid toward the edge of the road. "Hang on. You aren't wearing your seatbelt."
"What's going on?" Sylvia tried to push herself up in the seat. With one arm covering the baby she braced herself against the passenger door with the free hand. The truck hit a washed out area of the road and spun just as her hand connected with the door handle. The momentum of the truck combined with the pressure from her hand caused the door to release and fly open, the force of which yanked her from the vehicle.
"No." Taylor screamed in panic still trying desperately to regain control of the vehicle. She realized it was no use and jumping was the only option. She reached for the seatbelt release as the truck continued its downward skid. A boulder caused the truck to jump into the air and slammed the woman's head against the back window then the steering wheel upon returning to the ground. She managed to get the seatbelt released and door open as the truck hit another boulder causing it to turn sidewise in the air. The attempt to dislodge herself from the truck was hampered when her hand got caught in the seatbelt. The speed of the truck enhanced by gravitational pull caused her to become more entangled as she gyrated helplessly against the truck down the mountain.
She hit the ground hard next to the truck, her breath knocked from her chest. She tried to regain her senses, while the rain beat down mercilessly upon her. She realized she was beginning to breathe in more water than air from the puddle that was forming around her body. Trying to sit up, she discovered her hand was held prisoner under the truck.
The truck was lying on its side stopped momentarily by a pine tree sapling. In addition to her trapped and mangled hand, there was a taste of salty iron in her mouth. Her throat felt scratchy and she had to concentrate on slowing her breathing.
Pain ripped through her body as a long black veil of unconsciousness threatened her every move. Only the heel of her hand and two fingers were visible from under the oblique truck. Even though the rain caused a steady stream of the blood to flow, her main concern was to free her hand without dislodging the truck further allowing her to find Sylvia and the baby.
Shivers danced up and down her spine as the truck ground her hand into hamburger with each settling creak. The bumper began to edge closer to the cliff but the rough terrain grabbed the truck and held it fast, saving Taylor from her own funeral for the time being.
"Sylvia!" The deafening roar of Mother Nature's fury engulfed her words. "Sylvia!" She called as she scanned the terrain, unable to see on the other side of the truck where Sylvia possibly landed. "Sylvia! Where are you?"
"Taylor." She thought she heard her name faintly over the driving rain. A flash of lightning allowed her to see what appeared to be fingers clinging to the weather-beaten ledge.
"Damn! I haven't got time for the pain." She muttered, realizing Sylvia wouldn't be able to hold on very much longer and the truck was likely to include Sylvia in its path. "Hold on, Sylvia. I'm coming."
Looking around for anything she could use she spied a sharp rock. With no other choice readily available, she had to cut through the hand. Fighting down her nausea and blocking out the pain, her only thoughts were to get to her beloved. The motion of the truck had crushed the bones and the muscles were shredded. She bit back the scream that tried to force past her lips as the first contact was made. Gritting her teeth she used the rock to hack through the few slivers of meat connected to the parts trapped under the truck. Freeing herself from the confines of the truck she crawled to the ledge.
"Take the baby and get her safe." Sylvia said as Taylor approached the ledge.
"No, we don't have time to just get the baby." The sound of cracking wood alerted her to the ticking clock. "The truck is going to go any minute and take you with it."
"Don't argue. Just get Noel to safety. Then you can come back for me if I need help." Sylvia handed the child up to Taylor. "I'm okay."
"I don't think the truck will last." Taylor tried to convey how urgent the situation was.
"You only have one good arm and I can't climb with the baby." Sylvia pointed out. "Take her and promise me if I don't make it, you'll love her like she was your own."
"You're going to make it." Taylor insisted.
"I'll be right behind you." Sylvia assured her. "Promise me, you'll always keep her safe."
"Okay, I promise but you better get up here and fast." She was just able to slide her good hand under the baby and cradle her against her chest, protectively. Making her way to an outcropping, she found a safe, dry place to deposit the newborn.
Pushing her rain-slicked hair from her face, she headed back to the cliff when the sky lit up with the effects of the storm and the thunder roared overhead. She stood momentarily frozen by the sight of the truck breaking free from the earth's clutches and barreling toward the woman struggling to climb over the ledge. Taylor ran as fast as her battered body would allow to the spot of imminent doom; but it was too late. Powerlessly, she watched as woman and truck plunged to the raging river below. The falling woman's scream echoed through her head.
"No, no, no! Sylvia!" She cried and fell to her knees. "Christmas sucks!" She screamed to the heavens with raised fists. "Christmas sucks!" She collapsed in a heap, tears streaming down her face. Her cries slowed to a harsh, dry sob upon spying the bundled infant. Realizing a new destiny waited for them both, she mustered her resolve.
"Things are looking bad for Santa," Taylor whispered sadly to the agitated child. Taylor realized she would have to do something about her hand. She removed her belt and made a tourniquet over the wrist. That was the best she could do at the moment.
"Okay, little monkey let's get you back to the cabin and get you cleaned, warm, and fed." Keeping the baby from jostling too much made the climb back to the road was tricky. Her damaged hand combined with blood loss and the pounding in her head did nothing to alleviate the difficulty of the situation. Wrapped protectively in Taylor's arms, Noel settled down but continued to fuss as they reached the area where the truck was forced off the road. Carefully, she wrapped the baby tighter inside the jacket bundling to shelter her from the merciless storm and turned to the rain-shrouded ledge one last time.
"I will always love you, Sylvia." She avowed through rain soaked tears.
Through the shadows of despair
Hope will bolster nerves to repair
Haunting truth shatters in a skeletal cart
Endurance powers the steadfast heart
Shifting monkeys dance determination's rock
Masks of glittering stars clownishly mock
Ricochet betrayal's nightmare ending
Cling to anticipation's fairy-tale mending
Or is it?
1) Take My Hand -- (Dido)
2) Believe-- (Cher)
3) You -- (Claudia Christian)
4) O Tannenbaum-- (Charlotte Church)
5) Sylvia-- (Bodeans)
6) Little Drummer Boy -- LIST #14
7) Trouble-- (Pink)
8) Never-- (Heart)
9) Vision Of Love -- (Mariah Carey)
10) Angel -- (Rod Stewart)
11) Teddy Bear-- (Elvis Presley)
12) Anticipation-- (Carly Simon)
13) Christmastime-- (Smashing Pumkins)
14) Please Forgive Me -- (Melissa Etheridge)
15) Taboo -- (Claudia Christian)
16) How Would I Know -- (Melissa Etheridge)
17) The Twelve Days Of Christmas -- List#22
18) Nobody's Angel -- (Nanci Griffith)
19) Your Little Secret-- (Melissa Etheridge)
20) Open Arms-- (Journey)
21) All Wrapped Up -- (Claudia Christian)
22) Behind Blue Eyes -- (The Who)
23) Last Christmas -- (Wham)
24) Christmas Hangover -- (The Arrogant Worms)
25) Dad Threw Up On Christmas Day -- (The Arrogant Worms)
26) Tradition -- (Zero Mostel)
27) 10 o'clock -- (Gala)
28) Santa Got Arrested -- (The Arrogant Worms)
29) Santa's Going To Kick Your Ass -- (The Arrogant Worms)
30) Over And Over-- (Joe Walsh)
31) Crazy-- (Patsy Cline)
32) Nuttin' For Christmas -- (Barry Gordon)
33) Christmas Turkey Blues -- (The Arrogant Worms)
34) Home-- (Sarah McLachlan)
35) Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer -- LIST #17
36) Pretty Paper -- LIST #16
37) Silver Bells -- LIST #21
38) Girl-- (Beatles)
39) It's So Chic To Be Pregnant At Christmas -- (Nancy White)
40) Listen-- (Collective Soul)
41) Head-- (Prince)
42) Up On The Housetop -- LIST #23
43) Do You Hear What I Hear -- LIST #5
44) Jingle Bells -- LIST #11
45) Put Another Log On The Fire-- (The Outlaws with Tompall Glaser and his Band.)
46) Let It Snow -- LIST #13
47) White Christmas -- LIST #24
48) Baby, It's Cold Outside-- (Bing Crosby)
49) Chestnuts Roasting Over An Open Fire -- LIST #3
50) Spread A Little Love On Christmas -- (Destiny' Child)
51) Blue Christmas--LIST #2
52) All I Want For Christmas Is You--LIST #1
53) Deck The Halls--LIST #4
54) Water-- (The Who)
55) Silent Night--LIST #20
56) Winter Wonderland--LIST #25
57) Home For the Holidays -- LIST #8
58) Into The Dark-- (Melissa Etheridge)
59) E-mail Santa -- AKA Santa.com (Billy Gilman)
60) Get off the phone and drive -- (Dan Chopin)
61) Go-- (Hydraulic Woman)
62) Even -- (Dispatch)
63) Headlights -- (Dispatch)
64) Drive-- (Bon Jovi)
65) Torn-- (Natalie Imbruglia)
66) Relax-- (Frankie Goes To Hollywood)
67) Why-- (Annie Lennox)
68) If-- (Bread)
69) Laughter-- (Des'ree)
70) Coward Of The County-- (Kenny Rogers)
71) Time-- (Pretenders)
72) Still-- (Commodores)
73) Don't Speak-- (No Doubt)
74) Under Pressure-- (Queen)
75) Scream-- (Michael Jackson)
76) Rest Stop-- (Matchbox 20)
77) Wait-- (Beatles)
78) Legs-- (ZZ Top)
79) Help-- (Beatles)
80) Machine Gun-- (Jimi Hendrix)
81) I've Committed Murder-- (Macy Gray)
82) On Top Of Old Smokey-- (ABBA)
83) Moment Of Forgiveness-- (Indigo Girls)
84) Mother-- (Cyndi Lauper)
85) Seed-- (Sublime)
86) Torture-- (Cure)
87) Cry Me A River-- (Justin Timberlake)
88) Flood-- (Jays of Clay)
89) In My Life-- (Beatles)
90) Bitch-- (Meridith Brooks)
91) You Drive Me Crazy-- (Britney Spears)
92) Beautiful-- (Christina Aguilera)
93) Mama -- (Annie Lennox)
94) The First Noel--List #6
95) Crying-- (Roy Orbison)
96) Rain-- (Beatles)
97) Lightning-- (Counting Crows)
98) Black Leather-- (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
99) Over The River And Through The Woods--List #15
100) Old Dirt Road-- (Beatles)
101) Hope-- (R.E.M.)
102) It's Now Or Never-- (Elvis Presley)
103) Lost-- (Sarah McLachlan)
104) What's going on-- (Marvin Gaye)
105) Passenger-- (Deftones)
106) Fly-- (Sugar Ray)
107) Panic-- (No Doubt)
108) Control-- (Janet Jackson)
109) Jump-- (Van Halen)
110) Breathe-- (Faith Hill)
111) Prisoner-- (Mariah Carey)
112) Long Black Veil-- (Johnny Cash)
113) Truck-- (Nickelback)
114) Funeral-- (The Pistoleros)
115) Mother Nature-- (Alannah Myles)
116) Driving Rain-- (Paul McCartney)
117) Damn-- (Matchbox 20)
118) Haven't Got Time For The Pain-- (Carly Simon)
119) Hold On-- (Sarah McLachlan)
120) Beloved-- (Melissa Etheridge)
121) Contact-- (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
122) Argue-- (Matchbox 20)
123) Come back-- (Bon Jovi)
124) I'm okay-- (Christina Aguilera)
125) Don't-- (Elvis Presley)
126) Urgent-- (Foreigner)
127) Promise Me-- (Beverly Craven)
128) Promise-- (Jagged Edge)
129) Slide-- (Dido)
130) The Storm-- (Galleon)
131) Thunder-- (The Runaways)
132) River-- (Joni Mitchell)
133) Falling-- (Alicia Keys)
134) No, No, No-- (Destiny's Child)
135) Christmas Sucks-- (The Arrogant Worms)
136) Things Are Looking Bad For Santa-- (The Arrogant Worms)
137) Monkey-- (Counting Crows)
138) The Climb-- (No Doubt)
139) Shelter-- (Sarah McLachlan)
140) One Last Time-- (K-Ci & JoJo)
141) I Will Always Love You-- (Dolly Parton)
142) The End-- (The Doors)