A Stroll Through A Freezing River

John Boy watched his sister Mary Ellen and her husband Curt tend to Miss Fanny and the little girl they'd pulled out of the river a number of hours ago – now both sufficiently relieved, and thankfully out of danger. Oblivious to his own discomfort he smiled down on his little sister with pride. She'd grown into such a strong young woman, genuine concern and care oozed from her dark brown eyes like a reassuring ray of light – and he couldn't help but reflect on her growing up. Since when had she become so grown up? Ceased to be that child he'd known so well, and become a young woman he could be so proud of?

So deep in thought was he in fact that he didn't notice Mary Ellen looking back at him, nor register Curt's approach until he realised he was being spoken to.

"How are you anyway John Boy?" The young doctor asked. "You were in that river rather a long time too!"

"Oh I'm alright." John Boy smiled, teeth chattering, but barely perceptively, as a slight shiver shook his tone. "A good deal warmer now I'm out of those wet clothes." He explained.

It was indeed true that since he'd replaced his own soaking wet shirt and trousers with Harley's dressing gown he'd been a great deal warmer, but he still felt the chill in his bones.

Curt took John Boy by the hands, clasping them with both of his own warm palms with this, and rolling up his sleeves to check the temperature of his pale wrists.

"Your hands a freezing!" He observed with a frown. "Why didn't you tell me John Boy?"

The young man smiled, shaking his head. "Miss Verdie and Harley have been keeping me alright." He explained. "It's nothing. Miss Fanny and the little girl needed you more."

"You're my brother-in-law John Boy. If you were hurting you should have said something." The doctor frowned.

John Boy laughed anxiously. He knew that his mild discomfort was nothing compared to that which Miss Fanny and JoEllen were going through, it didn't seem right that he should monopolise Curt's time when there were two people who needed him more.

"Well, as I say it's really nothing." He explained. "I'm sure I'll warm up soon."

"There's no heat in your skin at all though." Curt frowned, placing the back of his hand to John Boy's freezing cheek. "Mary Ellen," he asked, "ask Miss Verdie to put another pot of hot coffee on whilst I go and get another dish of water?"

She nodded.

"Sit down John Boy." He instructed, indicating the Foster's sofa with one hand – the young man obeyed. "I'll be back in a minute. Just take it easy."

When Curt had gone Mary Ellen returned to sit down quietly beside her older brother. John Boy could now hear Verdie in the kitchen, pottering with the stove.

"I was worried." She explained. "Being in the water as long as you were you were lucky you didn't catch pneumonia."

John Boy immediately realised that it was his sister who'd asked her husband to take a look at him – and in hindsight she'd probably been right too. As he looked back at her he could see her worry for him in her eyes.

Of course she was a nurse, but she was first and foremost a sister.

He smiled.

"Well you've got nothing to worry about because I'm just fine Mary Ellen."

She squeezed his cold hands in hers, immediately frowning as she felt the cold – and preceded to rub them within her own warm palms to restore some of the heat to them. John Boy beamed back at her.

"Not exactly the Christmas momma had hoped for is it?" She sighed.

John Boy shook his head. "No." He agreed. "But I'm sure she'll just be relieved that we all made it through tonight safe and sound, and tomorrow's really Christmas." He grinned.

"So it is." Mary Ellen smiled.