It was a simple plan: leave a piece of a nativity set on the doorstep of an unsuspecting recipient on each of the twelve nights preceding Christmas.
Mary was the first to go.
The next morning we celebrated our supposed success and spoke of how Joseph would be next. Then we compared notes and discovered the awful truth. Mary had been delivered to the wrong address.
Eyes were wide. Mouths too. How could this have happened? The intended receivers needed the nativity. They had to have it. That’s the way we’d planned it. Joseph needed a wife, the Christ child needed a mother. We had no choice.
Mary couldn’t stay.
We didn’t know the people at the wrong address. We rationalized that they didn’t want a nativity, especially a lone Mary. “How do you kidnap a nativity piece? One of us is going to have to ask for her return. I’m sure they’ll understand it was all a mistake.” Amidst our scheming to recover her someone in our group felt inspired to present a differing opinion. What if it wasn’t a mistake? What if we were supposed to take Mary to that address? What if the people there needed her just as much as the first family?
We mulled over the situation and felt embarrassed. Asking if we could have Mary back implied we thought the people at the wrong residence weren’t as deserving—as important—as those we anticipated taking her to. A few questions to their neighbors and a short time later we discovered that by any standard—mortal or heavenly—the family who received Mary very much needed her. Those who knew them, we found, had been praying that their lives would be blessed and their hearts somehow touched by the Christmas spirit.
Humbled, we purchased a second nativity.
Joseph from the first nativity went to join his Mary that night.
Critique: You'll notice that there are no red marks within this story. The reason is, there's nothing wrong with what is there. This critique covers what is NOT there. Word count was low, so you have room to expand. Add a little more depth and tension to the story. I'd like to see more live action, "in the moment" feelings, dialog. Also, I prefer individualized characters, rather than an anonymous "we".
What I liked best: The concept that Mary was delivered to the "wrong" person.
Publication ready: Yes, but not for my purposes. I want more active stories.