Summary: Early one morning Adam muses about where his home is—and why. This was written for a prompt, the hiaku quoted at the beginning of the story, given by Tulipan, a fellow BonanzaWorld member, who also wanted to see Adam in long johns.Ask you shall receive….
Word Count: 1000
The morning cool
How glad I am
I was born a man
The morning cool
It was cold. Very cold. As cold as it could only be on a February morning when the first rays of sunlight falling through the tiny gap in the curtains brought no warmth at all into the bedroom—just enough brightness to wake a three-weeks-old baby. A three-weeks-old baby who had been woken up already by a creak of bedsprings at ten, by a hissed, “No, Adam, not now!” at twelve, by pangs of hunger at two, by the snoring of his father at half past three (at least that was what Juliet had said in a very accusing voice as she’d rudely shaken him awake, too), by some more, apparently very poignant hunger at five and by a wet diaper at six.
Now it was shortly after seven; Henry had surprised his parents with a so far unreached crescendo of pitiful cries, and Juliet, pulling the blanket over her head, had uttered the dreaded words, “It’s your turn. He can’t be hungry, he simply can’t!”
Adam wasn’t so sure about that: little Henry seemed to require more nutrition than Hoss on a cattle drive. But the simple fact that Juliet had been on the verge of tears had told him that this night had taken his wife’s exhaustion beyond endurance. And so Adam hadn’t tried to negotiate, but just stood up and, without bothering to put on a dressing gown, picked the wailing child from the crib.
How glad I am
Henry had stilled instantly. When had Adam cradled his son to his chest, Henry had eagerly bitten and sucked at his father’s shoulder, drooling happily onto Adam’s long johns. Adam had swayed from one foot to the other for a few minutes, holding his son with his left hand while stoking and rekindling the fire with his right, and then settled down opposite the fireplace on the easy chair on which Juliet usually sat as she nursed Henry.
Henry had kicked his legs and arms excitedly, until Adam had nestled him in the crook of his arm. Now Henry sat on his father’s lap, his back at Adam’s chest, his arm resting on Adam’s as if his father was a living armchair. Adam wrapped his hands around Henry’s tiny socked feet, enjoying the feel of the baby wiggling his toes. Both father and son watched the low fire; Henry with a young child’s fascination for the unknown, moving, bright, miraculous that he would inevitably lose when the reasonable grown ups started to tell him that everything could be explained and that there weren’t any miracles at all; Adam musing about the fact that there were indeed miracles, one of them sitting on his lap and the other lying in bed, pretending to sleep when he knew so well that she was watching him despite her exhaustion, proud and loving.
I was born a man
Adam had always been someone who felt right in his skin. But he had never felt really at home. Nowhere. Not in the wagon that had served as a substitute home for so many years and where his father had always talked about the “real home” they were going to find in the West. Not in the first cabin they had at the Ponderosa, the “provisional arrangement,” as his father had called it. Not in the big ranch house he had designed and helped to built and that had always whispered to him, “You could have made me better if you’d been better educated.” Not at Boston, where he had gotten that better education but had suffered from solitude and being different. And surely not back at the Ponderosa, these 600,000 acres that seemed so small and confining compared to the world.
Caged, that was how he had felt. Caged like an animal in a zoo, repeating the same actions day by day, week by week, year by year. Nothing seemed to change. Under the reign of Ben Cartwright the Ponderosa remained the same. For Adam it had felt like being in a prison. A prison made of powerlessness, of passivity, of restriction. And even though he would never tell his father, he had been thinking of breaking out. Of leaving. Unlike a caged animal, he had the choice to just go and explore new horizons.
And then Juliet’s eyes had sparkled at him, and his life had changed. Every day had brought new challenges, new ideas and new pleasures until the birth of Henry had marked some sort of climax, a new age, a new life, a new adventure—a new horizon.
And now Adam was at home. He’d been amazed to realise that home wasn’t a place he had to find; that his home would be anywhere where Juliet and Henry were—be it the Ponderosa or the new ranch house he was going to built one day for his own little family.
Even though he was bound tighter to another person than ever before in his life, he felt freer than ever. Even though he had committed himself completely, he felt no restricting constrictions. And even though he was still at the same old Ponderosa, it was now the place he had chosen to house his home. His miracles.
And not even the spreading wet spot on the leg of his long johns was able to diminish his sense of fulfillment.
Where thou art, that is home. ~ Emily Dickinson
A/N: In loving memory of Tulipan. With my heartfelt thanks to Sklamb, for the beta.