Her hand froze in mid-air, fist clenched, knuckles white. She stood and stared at the old, greasy, smooth wooden door, but she could not knock. She took a deep breath and tried again, but her hand, her arm—her whole body, it seemed, the whole world—said no.
But she had to. Time wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t wait. In less than half an hour she would be gone, and she wouldn’t have another chance to say good bye. She had to at least try.
At last her hand struck the wood. It was a pitiful, strangled-sounding knock, but he heard it. She knew he would—he had always had keen ears.
“Come in,” came his muffled voice behind the door. She stopped for a second, closed her eyes, tried to capture the voice in her memory. For a terrible moment she wanted to turn and run away, to avoid having to hear that voice throw harsh, angry words at her. But she would forever regret it if she didn’t at least give him a chance. She took hold of the metal hatch and pushed open the door.
It was all just as it always had been, she saw as the dust cleared from the shaft of light let in with her through the door. He sat in the middle of the room, near the back, slightly to the side of his oversized desk, several scrolls strewn about him, a pen in his hand and another stuck behind his ear, looking the great scholar he aspired to be. Only his tousled, curly brown hair that caught a glint of red sunlight from the doorway and his clear, wide brown eyes reminded her of the little boy she had known, had treasured, had cared for.
The force of his cold voice startled her. “I—” she drew a sharp breath. “I just—I’m leaving now, Jaasiel. I… wish you well in your studies. I want you to know I’m proud of you. And that I will never forget you, and I’ll come visit when I can, and—and I love…” her voice left her as she stood there watching him, loving him, longing to stay and talk with him, sit by his desk as she used to when he was learning his letters…
He let her finish, balancing his pen on one finger. “You might begin by stating your purpose and identity, if you please. I don’t generally entertain strangers.”
She froze. “I—what? I, well, Jaasiel, you know I was going to—”
“A simple thing, what I asked.”
A hot, choking feeling started to creep through her veins. He wasn’t angry, like she had thought he would be, but this was worse. “Jaasiel, really. Look at me. Tamil, of course. I’m here to say—”
“That’s funny,” said Jaasiel, and drew a hand up to his chin while he set the pen down on the desk. “I once had a sister named Tamil. But as I recall, she is no longer with us.”
“No,” she said, now in a near whisper. “I’m not dead, Jaasiel. Actually, I’m more alive than I’ve ever been. Really. And I just came to say—“
“I remember very well. Almost six months ago now, my sister turned her back on everything she’d ever known and loved, and started after this accursed Jesus. That day, she died.” He stared at the doorway behind her, as if she wasn’t there.
She closed her eyes and drew a painful breath. “You may speak more truth than you know. But I am not here to try and make you see—only God can do that, of course, like He did to me, but I… I only wanted to see you for a minute.”
He didn’t shift his gaze from the doorway. “I’m not accustomed to talking to the dead.”
“Then don’t talk to me! Just listen.” Tamil clenched her fists and tried to steady her trembling. “I love you, Jaasiel! Following Jesus has only made me love you more. I wish you could understand that. You have no idea how much it hurts me to know you disapprove, but… Jesus gave me life when I was at the end of mine. He’s so...”
The boy gave a loud, rude sigh and picked up his pen. “I hope this interruption is almost done,” he said.
Tamil bit her lip and fought to keep breathing. She glanced one more time at his ruddy, beautiful face before she turned and stepped over the threshold into the full sunlight outside and pulled the heavy door behind her.
There, beside the path to the road, stood Obil, the neighbor. The tears that streaked the woman's leathery brown face made Tamil stop.
“How can you bear it?” said the older woman in a strained whisper. “Doesn’t it just kill you? Isn’t it enough to make you reconsider?”
She waited a moment before answering. Then finally, “No,” she said. “It does almost kill me, but not make me reconsider.”
“But that child! That boy, that you loved and poured your life into… you were the one who first guided those fine hands to the spoon, and who later showed them how to hold a pen. You were the one who washed that handsome little face and combed that enviable hair. You made him who he is. And now he….” Her voice broke.
Tamil looked up, and saw a lonely cloud floating above the horizon. “Now I understand,” she said, “what it must have felt like.”
“To Jesus,” she said, turning to the woman. “When he saw those faces, those feet, those hands and hearts he had so lovingly formed take up whips and nails and turn against him.”
She turned back to the sky. The woman’s tears were almost too much for her. “It did kill him,” she said softly, mostly to herself. “But he didn’t reconsider.”
Then she turned and walked away.
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This message is powerful in that it enabled me to take something away with me to keep for always. You saved it very nicely til the very end. "It killed Him, but he did not reconsider." Very well done, I enjoyed reading it very much and thank you for sharing. Blessings,, Yvonne
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