This is my tenth chapter of my western, The Month the Babies Cry.
Chapter Ten: Home
His house was dark. Micah tied his horse to the hitching rail in front and walked up to the door. He knew it would be barred, so he knocked and called out, “Erin! Erin, it’s Micah.”
“Who’s there?” Erin said in a sleepy voice.
“It’s Micah, Erin. For God’s sake open the door and let me see you.”
He heard her strike a Lucifer and saw a glow of light through the window as she lit the candle lantern. Then she withdrew the bar from the door and opened it. She held up the lantern so she could see his face.
She held her hand to her mouth. “Micah. It is you! Oh, Micah.”
Micah filled his eyes with her and entered, took the lantern and set it on the floor. He tossed his hat down to the floor and pulled her to him and kissed her. “I’ve waited a long time for this kiss, Erin.” He could feel the softness of her breasts through her cotton nightshirt.
Erin wrapped her arms around him and sobbed. “Micah, are you home for good? How long can you stay?”
“I just got home, sweetheart. Don’t go and start talking about when I’m going to have to leave. I’m on furlough, so I’ll be here a spell.” Yet, even as he said it, he knew he wasn’t going to go back. “Where are the babies?”
She pointed up to the loft. A little girl’s voice called out, “Mama? Is someone here? Who is it?”
“It’s your father, Skye. Come down and see him.”
“Benjamin, wake up! Daddy’s home!”
Benjamin only mumbled something, and then Micah heard Skye slap him. “I said get up, Benjamin! Come on!”
Skye scampered down the wooden ladder from the loft and ran to Micah. She stood and looked at him, her eyes as blue and intense as her mother’s, evaluating him. “You really my father?”
“Yes, Skye, I am.”
“Say something only my father would know.”
“Your mother would sing to you of the faeries at night.”
“Everyone knows she does that. Say something else.”
He held out his hand. “You and I were the only ones who can go across your magic bridge in two strides. You told me that yourself.”
She smiled. “I knew you were my father all along. I just wanted to hear you talk. Why have you been gone so long? You better not leave us again.”
Micah pulled her to him. “I really don’t know, Skye.”
Micah watched Benjamin climb slowly down the ladder. He came up to them rubbing his eyes.
“Hello, son,” Micah said.
Benjamin stepped up and hugged him. Micah released Erin’s waist and lifted the twins, one in each arm. He kissed them and set them down. “You kids go back to bed. It’s past midnight. We’ll talk more tomorrow. I haven’t seen your mother in a long time, and we need to talk some.” He winked at Erin.
Erin cleared her throat. Skye laughed. She took Benjamin by the hand and said, “Come on, Benjamin, before Daddy finds out you’re really a donkey changeling. I suppose they want to kiss and such and they can’t do that with us here.”
They climbed up the ladder, and Micah went outside to care for his horse.
When he finished, Micah entered and kissed Erin a long time. As they undressed, he could hear the twins giggling. He stoked the fire with a couple of mesquite logs, banked the coals, blew out the lantern, and lay down with Erin. He and Erin made love and talked, and when Erin slept, he listened to the sound of her breathing as she slumbered.
Then, he listened to the night-sounds of Jack County—the distant coyotes, and a lone unknown winter songbird that shared a familiar, sad Texas melody. Micah thought his parents must have listened to the same song many nights. His parents loved Texas, and never missed much that Texas gave them, finding joy in all her music, even when the melody was a sad one. Sometime before he fell asleep, he remembered that, other than the trapper’s shack, this was the first night he had spent in a house in two years.