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Friday, May 25, 2012

Fiction Friday - ONE MORE TIME: Chapter 47B

Saturday dawned cloudy and threatened rain. The weather suited their moods. Paul and Sarah were again exhausted and Tamara weaker. She had again spent the night with fevers and convulsions. Her poor little body couldn’t withstand much more of this. In spite of Tamara’s illness, she alone seemed to maintain a positive attitude while all around her were pessimistic.

“Maybe we shouldn’t go to the meeting today,” Paul said, casting a worried glance at their pale child.

“No, you started the idea for the meeting, and you’re the only one with training in counseling. You must go,” Sarah said. “I’ll stay home with her.”

Tamara shook her head, her gaze passing back and forth between them. “I have to go. There will be kids there like Ezra and Zillah, and they need me. They’re scared of grownups.”

Paul hesitated, wanting to say no but sensing she was right. “Very well,” he said, “but I don’t want you out of my sight. And if you start feeling bad you must tell me, or tell Mama.”

“Okay, Papa,” she said, her eyes brightening a little. She walked into her room and came back with her doll.

They kept Tamara at home and resting until it was time to go. Paul carried her as they followed Jonas’s detailed instructions on how to find his home.

That morning produced some rain showers, but the skies cleared and the weather warmed. Paul guessed it must be close to 65 degrees. Dorcas and Hamath walked with them, each holding the hands of their children in one continuous line.

Orphah, in the middle holding both parents’ hands, occasionally got a swing across a mud puddle with dire threats from one parent or the other that they would drop her right in the middle, which made Orphah giggle.

When they arrived at Jonas’ home, Dathan escorted them into a large courtyard, every bit as large as Hamath and Dorcas’s courtyard. Paul’s mouth dropped—he had no idea Jonas was wealthy. Several logs had been brought into the courtyard and placed in a circle—or rather rows of circles—around a blazing fire pit.

Several children played, but some clung to their mothers. Although Mariah’s two were among those clinging to their mother, Paul noticed them watching others laughing and playing with a large dog. The dog acted ecstatic to have so many playmates. He put Tamara down and whispered something in her ear. Tamara nodded, and she sat beside the two smaller children. She couldn’t run around the yard with the other children, but she seemed satisfied with her small mission field.

She showed Zillah her doll. “This is my baby,” she said. “Her name is Abigail, but I call her Abby. Would you like to hold her?”

Zillah held out her hand—the one that wasn’t attached to her mouth—and took the doll. She looked puzzled about how she should hold the doll for a moment. Then she took her other hand out of her mouth and cradled the doll with both arms.

Ezra leaned toward them. “Bebee?” he asked Tamara, whispering around a firmly entrenched thumb, pointing with his other hand at the doll.

Tamara grinned at him. “Yes, baby.”

“Bebee me?” This time the question was directed to his sister.

“Maybe,” Zillah whispered back. “Be nice?”

“Nithe,” Ezra agreed, taking the doll and cradling it like he had seen his sister do, except the doll was bottom side up.

Tamara giggled. “Hold her head up,” she said, and she turned the doll right side up.

“Uf.” Ezra nodded. He patted the doll and rocked.

Sarah grinned at Mariah, who smiled back. “He will be a loving father one day,” Sarah whispered.

Paul stood up and cleared his throat. When the group quieted he spoke. “Hello. My name is Paulos. I’m sure you wonder why we invited you here today unless Jonas enlightened you when he asked you to come. As you might have guessed, all of us were either people who were abducted by Bildad or are part of the families of those enslaved. Some of you—or maybe all of you—are having nightmares, sometimes waking nightmares. You might awaken screaming, or you might be pushing your spouse away from you. You might be even fighting with or running away from your spouses. I just wanted to let you know what you’re experiencing is common to all of the rest of us.”

The crowd murmured agreements.

“I thought I’d let those of you who want to say something about your experience do so now. If you don’t want to, don’t worry. No one will be forced to say anything. I’ll start out because I’m one of you, and I’ve found that talking about the experience helped me get over some of the fearful feelings that I have. My wife has been understanding, but since I’ve been back—just a few weeks now—she has even gotten a few bruises when I started swinging my arms at night.”

Sarah grinned and nodded, and she showed them a bruise on one arm. A few smiled, and some chuckled.

“Bildad’s attempt to enslave me was unsuccessful, because I already had a broken leg his ruffians rebroke. The resulting injury brought on an infection that nearly killed me. He left me beside the road to die. Fortunately for me, an old woman found me, took me into her home, and nursed me back to health. I wasn’t gone as long as some of you were—for instance, Mariah here, who’s been gone for ten long years. Has anyone here been gone longer than that?”

(continued next Friday)
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