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Friday, June 3, 2011

FICTION FRIDAY: One More Time, Chapter 11A

For previous chapters, see previous Friday blog entries...


The next two weeks passed in a blur. Between meal preparations, Greek lessons, and dodging Hamath, Sarah’s days were filled with almost more activity than she could keep up with. There hadn’t even been time to ask Jonas for help. She went to bed exhausted each night, rose again the next morning, and went through the next day by rote. She though her emotions had been safely buried, but sometimes something reminding her of Paul would bring tears close to the surface. She missed him more than she ever thought would be possible a month ago.

One night, Sarah woke up, knowing something was wrong. She wasn’t sure what time it was, but she knew she hadn’t been asleep long. Knocking sounds came from below the window. She realized Tamara must be having another convulsion, and that meant she was also having another high fever. She hurried to Tamara’s side and pulled her pallet away from the wall so she wouldn’t hurt herself. The convulsion ended. Tamara’s cheeks felt hot. Sarah placed dampened cloths on the child’s body, hoping to bring the fever down. After two more convulsions, the fever began to subside nearly as fast as it came on.

Tamara drifted back into a natural sleep. The fevers and convulsions progressed like before, increasing in intensity until finally Tamara had succumbed to them, and Sarah was deeply frightened.

For the second time, she breathed a prayer. I hope two prayers in two weeks won’t tax God’s abilities or patience with me too far, and anyway, I’m desperate.
“Please, God, please don’t let her suffer and die again!” She gazed at the night sky out the window, tears rolling down her cheeks. When Tamara died before, the onset of each bout with the fevers had been sudden, leaving the doctors baffled. None of the antibacterials they gave her did any good at all, and none of the myriad of tests they performed revealed the source of the infection.

Not even the autopsy had provided any definitive answers. All they would say is that Tamara had died of complications from an unidentified infection. At first, the doctors quarantined Tamara, along with Paul, Sarah, and Halena, watching them for any sign of fevers for about a month. When no symptoms cropped up in any others around her, it baffled the doctors even more. No evidence of where she caught this mysterious disease, no indication anyone ever caught it from her.

In the morning, the sun beamed in the only window, waking Sarah from a sound sleep. Groggily, she got to her feet, wishing for a good night’s sleep. She scratched her head and yawned, then she walked over to Tamara, who opened her eyes and smiled at her mother.

“Good morning sunshine, we need to go fix breakfast. Maybe the hens laid a few eggs for us. Want to help me find them?”

“Okay, as long as that mean ol’ rooster doesn’t chase me!” Tamara always awoke quick and cheerful.

Sarah combed her hair, then Tamara’s, and they went out to face the morning, doing battle with the hens for their eggs and shooing the rooster with a branch when he got too pesky. The hens wandered free in the courtyard and tended to lay eggs in the bushes or grass or anywhere else they felt like laying them. They left the established nests alone (ones with three eggs or more), but there were plenty of eggs for breakfast without that. When they gathered all they wanted, she entered the cooking area, leaving Tamara in the courtyard playing with Keddy.

Martha entered the cooking area from the house. “There is a man here looking for you.” she said, curiosity lighting her face.

Sarah was a bit curious, too. “What’s his name?”

“His name is Jonas. I didn’t know whether to let him in or not, he wouldn’t say what he wanted you for, so he’s waiting in front of the house.”

Sarah’s eyes lit up. “Oh, maybe he has news of Paul. If Hamath or Dorcas asks for me, tell them I’m just outside. Oh—wait—maybe I need to find out what Jonas wants first—I might need to go with him.” She hurried to the front door and opened it, stepping outside.

“Good morning, Jonas, it’s good to see you. Do you bring word of my husband?” She heard the eagerness in her own voice and brushed some imaginary dust from her tunic to cover her embarrassment.

“Shalom, Sarah. No, not exactly. I’m sorry. But I did hear something of the cloth merchant. Apparently he traveled north at least as far as Sidon. The traveler I spoke to didn’t observe anyone who was crippled with the merchant; however, it wouldn’t have been noticeable that he was crippled if Paulos had been on a camel or donkey, for instance.”

Sarah nodded. She hadn’t realized she held her breath, but now she exhaled, her shoulders slumping.

“I understand. Well, thank you for the information, anyway. Maybe other news will come in from Paul’s kin. Goodby, Jonas.” She turned dejectedly to go back into the house, then remembered, “Oh, Jonas—are you proficient in Greek? Can you read and write it as well as speak it?”

He had started to walk back toward the marketplace, but turned at her queries. “Somewhat, I suppose. I have to be able to in order to negotiate with the Greek-speaking travelers and merchants who come to the marketplace.”

Sarah smiled. “Could I impose upon you to give me lessons? My mistress wishes me to give lessons to their children, but my knowledge of Greek is rudimentary at best. I’ll soon need to know more in order to teach them anything beyond the basics.”
Jonas smiled and nodded his head. “I’d be most happy to help, my friend. Perhaps I could put together a list of words and meanings, and some commonly uses phrases for you. Would that help?”

“Yes, please. And if I can help you with anything, you must let me know, too.”

“Indeed.” Jonas responded, and he waved as he turned to walk away.
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