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Friday, May 6, 2011

FICTION FRIDAY: One More Time, Chapter 8A

For previous chapters, see earlier Friday posts.

CHAPTER 8 - APRIL, 30 CE – DORCAS TO THE RESCUE

Sarah's feet dragged in the dust as she made her way back home from the marketplace. If it weren’t for Tammy, She’d wish to be back in their own time in their three-bedroom ranch-style house on a half-acre landscaped lot in Wickenburg, Arizona. She'd worked for a large construction firm in Phoenix as a contract administrator, and now here she was in who-knows-how-ancient Tyre, Phoenicia, living in a one-room hovel, working as a cook for a man who would lose his job or be sued for sexual harassment in modern America.

The trouble with modern America, though, Tammy lay in a small grave covered with concrete. Here, she worried about Paul’s disappearance, but had hope they’d find him. In their own century, she had no hope Tammy would return.

How in the world did this time switch happen? And why? She made a wry face. On the other hand, maybe she’d lost her connection to reality, and all this really didn’t happen. Maybe she, even at that moment, lay in a psyche ward in the Sunrise Medical Center in Peoria, Arizona, USA.

Even if so, did she want to snap out of it? The answer was easy. Most definitely not. Not at the expense of losing Tamara again. If this could be some kind of psychotic fugue, I’d rather live in this fugue than with deal again with Tamara’s death. So be it. Somehow, in this dream world, psychotic fugue, or reality, they would find Paul—and Mariah, too, she hoped.

When she arrived at the big house, she checked on Tamara, and then began preparations for still another meal, a leg of lamb cooked with vegetables this time. One nice thing about being from the future, maybe I know how to spice things better than they did during this ancient age. Even if I have to say so myself, I’m a pretty fair cook.

As if staged, Hamath arrived and sniffed the air. “Whatever you’ve made, it smells wonderful,” he said. He came up behind her, much too close for comfort, but she dodged, moving to a spice cabinet, trying to make it appear as though she were looking for one more ingredient.

“Why do you move away every time I draw near, Sarah?” His eyes drooped, petulant. “You act as though I were some repulsive brute rather than your very tolerant employer.”

“Tolerant?” Sarah asked. No argument about the repulsive part...

“Yes, tolerant,” Hamath repeated emphatically. “Do you think I didn’t know of your loud argument with Paulos, or of your disappearance with my father-in-law’s young slave last night for several hours? Do you prefer young meat, my pretty Sarah?” he sneered.

Sarah looked at Hamath in astonishment, fists on her hips. “Ben-Oni helped me look for Paulos. He wanted to help me because I medicated and bandaged his arm. Since a lone woman might not be safe on the streets at night, I thought it wise to take someone with me." She bowed her head. "I hope this didn’t offend you, sir,” she added with all the humility she could muster.

“Very well, Sarah.” He backed up a half step. “However, now that you don’t have a husband, you shall become my concubine, and you will from now on ask me if you may accompany another man, however young, wherever you might decide to go.”

“My husband is not dead, sir, only missing. I know he will come back to us. His daughter is precious to him. And since I’m still a married woman, I can’t be your concubine.”

“You may as well accept the facts, woman. Your husband must be dead. And if he is not dead, he is at least dead to you.” Hamath stepped forward again and reached for her arm.

Again Sarah dodged, but in the narrow confines of this partially enclosed cooking area, she found nowhere to run, and he blocked her way out. She flattened herself against the wall, wondering what to do now. If she struck or fought him, he could have her stoned to death. If she ran, she could be returned to Hamath and scourged. If she submitted to him—she shuddered with revulsion. God help me!

Hamath’s eyes lit with glee as his body pressed hers to the wall.

“My husband is not dead!” She raised her voice, and Dorcas entered the enclosure. Sarah breathed a sigh of profound relief.

Dorcas’s voice dripped icicles. “Is there a problem here, husband?”
Hamath jumped back as though he’d been hit with pepper spray. “Of course not, wife. I...I just tried to make Sarah to see the logic of her situation. Paulos is gone and probably dead.”

“Her husband is dead? I haven’t heard of any corpses being found in the city, have you? No, I didn’t think so. Leave the poor woman be. She has enough to worry about without your unwanted attention.” Dorcas propped her hands on her hips and pushed her face close to Hamath’s.

Hamath retreated through the entry, muttering something about the horses.
Good for you, Dorcas, Sarah congratulated her silently. You have more spine than I gave you credit for.

“Sarah, after our midday meal, I want you to come with me to the children’s play room. The boys need instruction in the Greek language. You came to us from a Greek household, and you’re an educated woman.” Dorcas’s eyes narrowed as if she tested Sarah. “You may teach the children while you’re free. Orphah and Tamara may stay with the boys while you’re teaching. I’ll double your pay.”

“I’d be happy to, madam,” Sarah agreed, bowing her head. At that point, Sarah would cheerfully have knelt and kissed Dorcas’ feet, but Dorcas turned and left the cooking area.

Wait a minute. Didn’t Dorcas enter on the heels of her prayer? Coincidence, she decided—albeit a very nice coincidence—and dismissed the thought of answered prayer.

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