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Rated: E · Short Story · History · #2275420
A thought on the journey of the magi.
Homage to T.S. Eliot

Hard enough it was, in winter, that journey in the limitless wastes, and we were old even then, all three of us, settled already in the assumption that our travelling days were over. The call, when it came, so urgent and marked in the heavens, was answered with hope suddenly burning in our hearts, and bolstered with agreement between us, so we departed, stiffened joints and watery eyes notwithstanding, out into the cold and bitter sands of the desert.

We journeyed at night, wrapping ourselves in sheets for warmth, huddled into shapeless masses on the backs of our complaining camels, sleeping in the day in whatever shade we could find or create. Oases and villages followed through the empty miles, all becoming indiscernible from each other in my memory, dusty streets between houses seemingly grown from the earth to bake hard in the sun. Overheard gossip and news at the wells while we waited in silence for our turn at the water.

And always, at night, the star in the sky, set like a diamond in a sable hide cloak. When we spoke, it was only to share our latest thoughts on the course we were following. Doubts there were but our consensus was that we must continue, if only to find that we were fools at the last.

In the end, the result was less than we had dreamed but so much more than we could have expected. It was in a village much like so many others that we had passed along the way. Had the star not ceased its movement we might well have kept on going, for there was nothing otherwise to make us stop.

There was nowhere for us to stay, the place being filled with those come to make themselves known in the census, and we resigned ourselves to spending the night out in the desert again. So we would have done, had not an innkeeper directed us to a stable where we might at least have a roof over our heads. It was occupied already, we were told, but there might be room for us.

And so we came at last to the promised new king. In that humble shack, among the animals penned for the night, he lay in a straw manger, a newborn child attended only by his mother and father. We knew him instantly, although I do not understand how. There was nothing royal in his surroundings or special in his appearance. But there was something in those still-filmy eyes that spoke worlds to us and confirmed our hopes.

We spoke in hushed and awed tones to the parents, divesting ourselves of the gifts we had brought, and then settled for the night, still gazing at the baby. He radiated peace even though sleeping soundly, how I do not know.

The next day we left before the sunrise, having achieved all we intended. We carried with us a memory that would remain with us until death. And, perhaps, beyond.

Word count: 499
For DWG Flash Fiction Contest, June 2022
Prompt: What do you know about Christmas? Research and write what you know or base this on fiction with true facts.

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