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Friday, May 18, 2012

Fiction Friday - ONE MORE TIME: Chapter 47A - Mariah

The next morning, Sarah felt encouraged enough to allow Tamara join in the lessons with the other children. Tammy had eaten some breakfast, and the circles under her eyes diminished. Perhaps she wasn’t not her bouncy previous self, but no fevers had beset her for the rest of the night.

The morning meal hadn’t been finished for long when they heard a knock the front door. Martha answered the door and brought the guests to Paul and Sarah in the children’s room, Sarah holding Tamara while Paul gave the lesson.

“Jonas, Dathan, please join us.” Paul rose to his feet and held out his hands.

Sarah’s heart sped. Jonah had more than just Dathan with him

“Not today, dear friends, not today.” Jonas beamed. “Mariah has returned.” He pulled a petite blushing woman around from behind him and Nathan. “And she has brought some new additions to our family, Ezra and Zillah.” Two small children clung to Mariah’s tunic, both with their thumbs in their mouths, staring wide eyed at all of them. “Ezra is not quite two years old, and Zillah is three. Are they not as beautiful as their mother?” Jonas’s smile couldn’t have been much broader.

Nathan stood silent, his gaze bouncing between his mother and two new siblings. Sarah wondered if he felt as joyful as his father at the arrival of new family members.

Mariah spoke up with a soft voice. “Jonas told me a man named Paul was responsible for us being freed. Are you that Paul?”

Paul nodded, smiling at the whole family. “Yes, that’s me. Jonas has been anxious for you to return. And he bears as much responsibility as I do.”

“I thank you, sir,” she said. “You are our savior.”

Paul shook his head. “No, I won’t claim that title, Mariah, but I’m happy to be your friend. Jonas has been a good friend, and he has talked of you so often I feel as though I know you.” He bent to pick up a quill.

The two younger children darted behind their mother. “Sh, it’s all right—he won’t hurt you.

Sarah’s heart ached. The poor little ones!

Paul dropped to his knees and held his hand out to them. “I’m sorry, Zillah and Ezra. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It will take them a while to trust any man. They only have experience with men who were evil.” She knelt and held the two trembling little ones to her shoulders.

Paul nodded and turned back to Jonas. “I’ve been doing some thinking, my friend. You’d probably have more contacts than I do. What would you think about forming a group of those who have returned and their families? Maybe even include those who family members haven’t returned, if they would like. It might help for people to talk to others about their experiences. Some people have been so traumatized they might need something to help them readjust to ‘normal’ lives.”

Mariah stood, Ezra with his head against her neck and Zillah pressed tight against her leg. “While I was a slave I saw some that I knew, but we weren’t allowed to speak. Sometimes at night, I’d hear the sound of weeping. Bildad rented us out to people wanting almost anything, from nursemaids to cooks. We weren’t always treated with kindness. Although most of the renters treated us well, some didn’t. We were like pieces of furniture.”

Jonas pinched his lips, glanced down and back up at Paul. “I’ll make some contacts. We could meet at my home on the Sabbath. After the mid-day meal, as most of my rabbinical duties are finished. My house is central to Tyre, and people wouldn’t have to walk too far no matter where they live here.”

He glanced down and a scowl flitted across his forehead. “We Jews are not supposed to allow Gentiles into our homes, and most of the returned ones are not Jews. However, it only makes our house unclean for a day, so we will still meet there. I think our God would approve.”

“I think He will, too,” Sarah said.

“We will be there, unless Tamara is has one of her fevers,” Paul said. “I’ll tell Hamath and Dorcas.”

Dorcas walked into the room as he was speaking followed by Hamath. “What is it you will tell us, Paul?” Dorcas asked. “Hello, Jonas, is this your wife? I hope so. You have been watching for her return.”

“Yes. Dorcas and Hamath, may I present to you my wife, Mariah, and our two new children, Ezra and Zillah. Or rather my new children. They are not new to Mariah. I will adopt them so there is no doubt about them also being mine.”

Mariah gazed with grateful eyes at her husband. She glanced at Hamath. “Sir, did I also see you in Jerusalem?”

“Yes. I returned just two days ago,” Hamath said. “Bildad wasn’t the gentlest master.”

“That’s true, but he had such a dramatic change in behavior. He set nearly all of his slaves free.”

“Yes. He almost pushed us out the door, he was in such a hurry to free us.” Hamath grinned.

Mariah lowered her eyes. “At first, he wanted to keep my children, but he gave permission to take them when he realized he’d have to care for them himself—he had no one left to tend the children. He turned us loose awhile back, but we had no means to come home. There were ten of us who grouped together, along with our children. As we traveled toward our homes, we performed work for food for a while, or sometimes gaining a coin or two.”

Paul spoke up. “What we wanted to tell you, Dorcas and Hamath, is that Jonas has kindly offered his home for a meeting for all for the people who have returned and their families. It will be a chance for them to share their stories and perhaps know they’re not alone in their feelings and experiences after returning. Sometimes people have nightmares, sometimes even waking nightmares, after going through experiences as terrifying as these.”

Hamath started. “I had a nightmare last night, a physically active dream. I nearly knocked Dorcas off the bed.”

“I have nightmares, too,” Mariah said. “Several times I’ve awakened myself and those around me by screaming.”

“Well, save these stories. We can share them Saturday. That’s only three days away,” grinned Paul. “Others will be relieved to know they are not alone.”
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