KR Pendergrass is a career paramedic, devoted wife, homeschool mom, and part-time member of the justice league. Also the author of the short novel Incompatible With Life, and multiple short stories. Trying to establish a freelance writing career in addition to all that is tough, but if it's easy, it's not worth doing!
PARAMEDICS DON'T CRY
Small town church Christmas plays have their own special magic, where for one night, whatever your station in life, whatever your background, you are family. People who cross each other's paths a million times in a year become more than random faces. This particular one was no different for the denizens of this tiny town.
The lady who does manicures is dressed to the nines, adjusting the costumes of the tangle of grandchildren hovering around her seat. The elderly couple who owns and maintains the fairgrounds are in the second row. She has a Christmas sweater on with an actual string of flashing lights around the neck. The preacher's wife is dressed as a shepherd because one of the kids had the flu and couldn't make it. Her beard is slightly crooked as she straightens the halo on one of the angels.
The lights dim and the spotlight focuses on the man who works at the post office. He is wearing an apron, playing the innkeeper who had no room at the inn. His song goes perfectly, but he forgets some of his lines and his wife has to whisper them to him from the front row.
One of the town's two paramedics sits in the fourth row, tears streaming down her cheeks as her autistic son makes his acting debut, nailing his part as Gabriel. His small voice resonates clearly as he hits every one of his lines with innocent relish. A woman she has only met in passing puts an arm around her as she wipes away proud tears.
The play ends to louder applause than the small church seemed capable. The kids are ecstatic, having pulled off what they had worked so hard on. There is a little dinner in the basement afterwards, and everyone has a good time. Spirits are high as they go their separate ways. Life goes on after this momentary respite.
On Monday, multiple people get their nails done in preparation for the holidays. The last of the Christmas lights are put up at the fairgrounds. The preacher and his wife work on the next weeks sermon and youth group celebration. And the paramedic has a package to mail out.
His apron traded for a uniform shirt, and her sweater and khakis traded for EMS uniform and boots, they smile as they go about their business. As he hands her the receipt, he says "You know, he did amazing. You should be proud."
She thanks him and gets outside before wiping her eye, because paramedics don't cry. But sometimes, once in a while, autism moms do.
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