The Virgin, Madonna and Childbypheacock©
Authors note—This is my first work of fiction I chose to place it in the Winter Holiday Contest. Why not shoot high! If you would please rate the work also any thoughts will be treasured by me. All characters involved in sexual contact are over 18. Happy Holidays
Delores María Sánchez was again looking at the waif-like woman staring at the Christmas trees she was selling. She was a very pretty young woman, about five feet nine with strawberry blond hair hanging to her waist. The rest of her was concealed by the blanket wrapped about her and the young girl she held. The woman and her child were emaciated -- they appeared to be just skin and bones. They were shivering in the freezing cold, and the mother talked soothingly to the girl.
Delores -- she hated that name -- approached them and saw fear in their eyes. "Are you looking for a tree, Miss?"
"My girl just wanted to see them. We don't have any money. I do love the smell of them." The young woman shook her head.
Delores was feeling the season in her. "I'll give you one, young lady. It's Christmas Eve and it's almost closing time anyway." Tears streaked down the two faces looking at her, ripping at her heart.
"Thank you for the thought, ma'am, but we have nowhere to put it. We don't have a place to stay anymore." Delores knew she had to do something. The two would freeze to death soon.
"Come on and sit in my little hut here and turn on the heater. Try to get a little warm." She led them into the small, enclosed shack.
"We don't want to be a bother, ma'am, but I do need to get Salomé warmed up. My name is Mary. Thanks a bunch for being so thoughtful!" The two shuffled to the promise of warmth. The mother sat on the stool still clutching her little girl. Del -- This was Delores's favored nickname -- bent down and cranked up the little space heater.
"My name is Delores, but I much prefer 'Del'. I'll just shut the door so you can get warm." She returned to work. There was just an hour left before she closed and was unemployed yet again. She checked on her two guests several times between sales. It was getting warm in the shack. She noticed that they had taken the blanket off and were just hugging one another. She stopped dead when she saw the girl had no shoes. How did they expect to survive the cold? She resolved then and there what her good deed for Christmas would be.
Del was closing the lot down when Charles came 'round to collect the receipts for the day. He took notice of the two in the hut -- that was not to be expected. Del knew he didn't like people in there.
"Del, why are there people in the sales hut?" He tried not to sound angry -- he liked the hard working employee. Del told him about the mother and her child and how she would keep them with her for Christmas. "Do you have enough money to buy food for them?"
"I really don't know, Charles. I just need to buy a chicken and some potatoes, and maybe some milk for the girl." Charles felt he should help out a little and slipped 20 dollars into Del's purse as he gathered up the paperwork from the hut. He would have a crew come in later to clean up, so he busied himself with making sure nothing of value was left behind. The young mother and child were pitiful. He wished them a Merry Christmas and stopped to talk to Delores.
"Del, I can have your money on the day after Christmas. Is that OK?"
"Oh, but I have to clean the church, so we will have to meet there." She knew he did not like the nuns -- they were always hitting him up for money.
"No problem. See you then."
Del got Mary and Salomé together and led them down the street to her flat. It was not much -- a single room with the kitchen off to the side and a small bathroom. The sofa made out into a bed where they would sleep. Del was worried that the two had no change of clothing or even basic toiletries. "Don't you have anything with you, Mary?"
Mary looked down, embarrassed by the lack of care they presented. "We did; it was all stolen last night at the shelter. They took my daughter's shoes and her underwear I had hung up to dry. Along with her socks and her other clothing, as well as mine. Then the shelter made us leave. I think they were afraid I would try to take other people's stuff. I promise you I don't steal. We're going to have to start over again. It's hard to find work with a young child who needs looking after." By the time they had walked the three blocks, the two were shivering hard, with no complaint from the brave little girl. After walking up to the third floor, Del showed them in. It was a palace to them!
Del got the bathtub filling and told Mary to warm herself and Salomé while she went to buy groceries. Del had to hurry, since the stores were closing early. She headed to the closest one that she could afford, a Super Target. She got a cart, and realized she needed to check her funds. When she opened her purse, she saw the $20 bill on top and knew Charles had put it there. He was such a softy inside. She quickly calculated she had a total of 32 dollars and 84 cents. More than enough.
First, she went back to the toy section, hoping to get Salomé a present. The section was pretty well picked over, but she found a very inexpensive doll. It was only seven dollars. The doll looked like Salomé; it had long blonde hair and was dressed in a pretty dress. Del would to get it for the girl with the money from Charles. She stopped by the girls' clothing section and picked up a three-pack of panties; they were not expensive.
Now, on to dinner. She picked out a nice four-and-a-half-pound chicken and grabbed a package of bacon. Next, she picked out three potatoes, a cabbage, a bunch of celery, and an onion. As she passed the bakery she saw a small pumpkin pie. She had kept a running total so she was sure she would have enough. She stopped in the dairy section and saw eggs were on sale, so she picked out a dozen, as well as a half pint of whipping cream and a quart of milk. Then, it was on to frozen foods -- she found a sale on frozen pizza and tonight's dinner was handled. She made it out of the store with a dollar and change. It was going to be a nice Christmas supper! She hoped Salomé enjoyed the toy. Del had loved them at her age.
With all the things neatly packed into her shopping tote, she headed back. The temperature had dropped while she was shopping. She put her food away and stopped to listen, hearing singing from the bathroom. An idea hit her. Looking through the bins that held her things she found a flannel shirt that was way too small for her, as well as a tight flannel nightie. She knocked on the bathroom door and Mary invited her in. She tried not to look at the two bodies in the tub.
"I found some things that might fit you both. They will be too big but are warm. I can wash your clothes at the church when I go to clean it." Del said.
Mary asked. "Why do you do that? I mean, clean the church?"
"The Sisters let me stay here for free in exchange for the work. They have been very nice to me."
"I can help clean! If Sal can come with me?"
"I am hoping they might have some clothing donations for you both, so that would be perfect."
Del put the clothing on a rack by the door, and Mary studied her. Del was in her late 20s, and had shoulder-length black hair with curls. She was slim but toned and had a medium bust and pretty curves. Mary liked her looks but she had no feelings other than gratitude for this Latin angel who had saved them.
When they came out, clean and warm, they saw Del working in the kitchen. Mary wanted to help and asked her what she was doing.
"I'm making bread for us. It's cheaper than buying it and it smells so nice." Del added water slowly to the flour and a little salt in a bowl. Halfway through she added instant yeast and resumed adding the water a little at a time. She tossed flour on the counter top she had cleaned and started kneading the dough. Sal was enchanted by the process. It made no sense to her, and she watched with fascination. Del was working hard. She looked at Mary and told her it was cathartic and helped her to think. Then she covered the ball of dough in a bowl with a tea towel to let it rise. Sal's face reflected her wonder -- her large doe eyes were lovely to Del. She saw that the shirt was much too big.
Del went to a bin and pulled out sashes for both her guests. Leaning down, she wrapped one twice around the girl and handed the mother the other. Then she remembered the panties she had bought and retrieved them, handing them to Mary with a smile. Mary was amazed at the thoughtfulness of her hostess. She put a pair on Sal, who was happy with the feeling of protection they gave her.
Del started preheating the oven to bake the bread and picked up Sal to show her that the dough was rising. Sal enjoyed the strong protective arms holding her. She wished they could stay with her forever. She was safe for the first time! She recalled all the places they had been where they both were frightened all the time. Her memories of the bad things men and women had done to her mother almost made her cry. Now she hoped the nice lady would not hurt her mother. Del set the child down and went about washing their clothes in the sink. When they were clean and as wrung out as she could get them, she put up a line for drying them.
"That is so kind of you, Del! I thought you were going to wash them at the church!"
"I just realized they are all you have so, if you want to come with me to clean, you'll need them. I need to call my mother and check on her. Please excuse me." Del phoned her Mom and asked about her well-being. She told her mother about Mary and Salomé and asked if her mother could teach her how to sew some clothes for them. They were to see her after cleaning the church -- Mary wanted to learn also. Del punched the dough down, shaped it into a batard, and let it rise one more time. She checked the oven, placed a pan on the lowest level rack, and put her tea kettle on to warm some water. She took out a small saucepan and placed it on a burner, poured in half the milk, and set it to slowly heat. She went to a cupboard and grabbed cocoa powder and sugar. Mary smiled. Her Sal was going to get a treat!
When the milk was ready, Del added some sugar to it, and measured out the cocoa and added it, whisking it into the concoction. When it was properly blended and warm, she divided it into two mugs and placed them before Mary. "I'll let you judge when they have cooled enough for Sal. OK, mom?" Mary was again overcome by the kindness that had been shown to her and her baby girl. Not trusting her voice, she simply nodded and set about blowing on one mug. The sweet scent was making her stomach growl. A quizzical look from Sal reminded her that Sal had never tasted hot chocolate!
Mary grinned at Sal. "Baby girl, this will be a new one for you. This is so thoughtful, Del! She has never had this!" It reminded the hostess of how hard these two had had it. All she could do was wave off the comment. She resolved to try to get them settled and safe. She saw the bread had a full rise so she slashed the top and popped it into the oven. She poured some boiling water into the pan on the bottom rack. Then the magic smell of baking bread filled the room, to Salomé's wonder. She was very hungry, having not eaten all day. The bread finished baking and Delores could hear her guests' stomachs rumbling. She turned the oven up for the pizza. While the bread cooled, it took a titanic effort for the famished girls to not devour it.
Del looked at them. "I'll cook dinner as soon as the oven heats. It won't be very long. Drink your cocoa -- that should tide you over." The expression on Sal's face was one of love for the sweet liquid. She had tasted chocolate before but this was new and wonderful. For the rest of her life she knew she would pick this beverage over others, since it would always remind her of this moment. Her mother's joy at the look on her baby's face was matched by Del's own. They loved the marvel playing across Sal's face.
When the oven had reached the proper temperature, Del opened the frozen pizza and slid it onto the rack per the instructions on the box. She set the timer and went about cleaning the kitchen. She turned on her radio so they could listen to the holiday music. Sal sang along with the songs she knew. Her voice was strong and pretty. Not very childlike at all. She was also listening to the songs she did not know. Mary spoke up. "She always remembers them once she's heard them." "Ave María" came on, to Salomé's delight. She loved the words -- they burned into her mind.
When the timer went off, Del put the pie on a cutting board and let it cool. Sal and Mary stared at it lustfully. She took out a pizza wheel and sectioned the pie, cutting some small wedges for Sal. "Mary, these are really hot. Let's let them cool so Sal doesn't burn her mouth." Mary nodded but was so in need of food, she had to look away and watch her daughter listen to the song. Mary knew it was in German, which her daughter could not understand, but she also knew that Sal would remember. After a few minutes Mary picked up a slice. It was warm to her but not too hot, so she let Sal try it. Sal didn't give give it back, hungrily eating every bit.
Del watched her eat with pleasure. "Sal, slow down or it will make you sick." Sal already had another helping and put it down, thinking she had been admonished. Del smiled at her to let her know all was well. "I didn't tell you to stop, baby. Just take your time." Sal snatched the slice back up and started to chew. Del reached over to muss her hair. Mary loved seeing her girl enjoy anything, but this was special.
Mary ate two slices, and Del but one. Sal piped up. "Thank you, Ms. Sánchez! Mommy and I were hungry." Sal got up to wash her face. She had wolfed her food and made quite a mess.
"I don't know why you are helping us. If I can do anything for you I will." Mary was having feelings for another person, other than Sal, for the first time in a very long time, and it made her very happy.
Salomé came in and sat down on the floor. Del handed her a box of dominoes to play with. To the girl it was a gift from the gods. She stacked them, built a small house, studied them at length, noted the dots. Next she put them in order. The older women had no clue what it was, but Sal knew. Del asked Sal and Mary if they wanted to watch a movie. They both were so excited when Del put on Disney's "Snow White." Both were enthralled by it. Sal had never seen a movie and Mary had been 14 when last she watched one. Seeing their faces was all Del wanted for her Christmas. She wondered if she could support them all. She was falling for the child and her mother. They had a simple grace.
After the movie, her guests were obviously sleepy. Del gave each a toothbrush from the spares she had. She pulled out the bed and made it up, putting on a quilt her mother had made. She also put on throw pillows for them to sleep on. Sal was out like a light, as soon as she closed her eyes. Mary also quickly and easily fell into repose. This was the first time in four years she felt safe. Del switched off the lights and slid under the sheets and quilt. She was on one side and Sal was on the other, with Mary between them. As much as Mary thought of Del, years in shelters had taught he how to protect her baby.
Everyone slept well. Del woke first and felt an arm draped over her at her waist. She knew it was Mary. Slowly she rolled over and saw Sal's hand on her mother's side. So as to not awaken the two, Del silently left the warm bed to start breakfast. She started a pot of coffee. She didn't expect that Sal would want any but Mary might. She put a cast iron skillet on to heat and took out the bacon she had bought yesterday as well as the eggs and a stick of butter. She had found a single-slice toaster at a church bazaar and pulled it out to make toast.
Del laid six slices of the bacon in the skillet and sliced the loaf of bread she had made the day before for the toast. She looked up into the wide eyes of Mary. "I thought you might like a Christmas breakfast. I had a feeling you both could use some decent food." If Delores had more experience she would have seen something else in Mary's face. Yes, there was happiness blooming, but there was another, deeper emotion. Del felt a hand on her leg grasping her night gown. She looked down to find Sal, who wanted to tell her how she felt. But she had no words.
Mary looked at Del. "Will you let me help? I don't want us to be a burden." Del answered by picking Sal up and sitting at the bar in front of the stove, holding the little girl. Sal had seen her mother cook when she had a job in a diner but this was nicer. She did not have to sit on a stool in the corner. Del was warm and the girl thought she was very pretty. So Sal pulled her down to kiss her. Mary saw this and chuckled. "I think she likes you. So do I." She turned the bacon over, and, seeing the eggs, she wondered how her hostess liked them. Del's world was reeling about her. She wasn't used to close personal relationships.
She asked Sal if she wanted to watch another movie. Sal nodded her head fast, her eyes opening wide in wonder. Del went to her stack of DVDs and found a collection of two hundred classic cartoons -- perfect kid fare! She hoped that Mary would laugh also. The woman deserved a little joy in her life. Mary asked how she like her eggs cooked and Del told her that scrambled was the easiest. Sal was giggling her head off, and Mary, too, as the cartoons got to them all. Del started the toast. It was slow making one at a time, but she did not have space for a larger toaster. She saw that the bacon was draining on an old brown paper bag on a plate. That was how she did it! She watched the old cartoons but even more so the face of Salomé. She didn't recall ever having seen that level of giddiness! It came as a revelation that God had sent them to her to save all three.
They ate breakfast with the cartoons on 'Pause' so Sal would be a part of the meal. Mary had done a fine job. Both her eating partners told her so. After the meal Mary started washing things up and Del went to the bathroom where she quickly wrapped the doll in gift paper and placed a bow on it. She came back into the living space, waved Mary over to watch, and then handed the gift to Salomé. "Merry Christmas, little girl!" she said with a wide smile. She looked up to the sight of Mary crying. Sal had never received a gift before. She sat, not knowing what to do. Mary said to her daughter, through her tears of joy, "Sal, open it and see what Del got you." It was almost painful to see how Sal went about getting into the gift with utmost care. She tried not to rip the wonderful paper, sure it had another use. It seemed to the older women to take her forever to get into the package. She dropped the wrapping on the floor. She had a dolly of her own! She ran to Del, holding up her arms for a lift up. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" over and over again, each time with a kiss to the blushing woman's face. Del put her back down. The kissing continued, only this time it was Mary, trying to let her know how much the mother appreciated the simple act of generosity. Del helped Sal get the plastic that sealed the toy off. She had no idea who thought that up.
Sal sat down, hugging the toy to herself as her mother did with her. The sight was so moving. Del went in to finish the dishes so that mother and daughter could spend some happy time. She got out the ingredients for the dressing and chopped the vegetables. She cubed the bread she had made the previous day. This went into a slow oven to crisp a little -- she drizzled oil on it to help. She retrieved a box of chicken stock. She would cook the bird and dressing in the same oven. While they cooked, she would sauté the cabbage with bacon bits and a little onion and garlic. With everything ready, she went in to watch her guests at play, enthralled by their relationship. They had to rely on each other. This forced a closeness most others could not ever have.