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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: The Prodigal Brother
By Josiah Kane


Zephaniah flopped down onto a settee, drinking a small skin of wine to cool down. He had come in from weeding the extensive fields that would one day make his fortune. If only his father would just hurry up and die, then it would all be his. Zephaniah had considered adding a little poison to his father’s mutton one day, but decided against anything that might cause his brother to return. His mind returned once more to that lovely day that his brother had left the house.

“I am tired of this.” Joash had complained. “You are always giving the attention to Zeph. I need some space of my own. I want my share of the inheritance now, and I want to leave.”
Zeph had smiled in spite of his surprise. He had always known that his brother was stupid. He’d been imagined how he might use the same kind trickery that won Jacob his brother’s birthright to get his own way, but if his brother left, this would have been unnecessary.

However, if Joash were tempted to come back, this inheritance would probably be shared again. From that day forward Zeph had worked hard, doing everything he could to increase the property that would one day be his.

Zephaniah gasped as he realized that what he had thought impossible had happened. His aged father had moved from his window seat. In fact he was running. Zephaniah hurtled out the side door to see what he was up to. Joash had returned. Clad in a ragged woollen toga that stank so badly of pig-dung that Zephaniah could smell it from where he stood, Joash had dared to come back. He was hugging his father, although he seemed to be astonished to see the sixty-year-old so well, and not even out of breath. But Joash was exhausted. He was gasping something about his returning to serve his father, now unworthy to be called a son, and he looked very hungry and very poor. Within thirteen seconds his father had forgiven him. Zephaniah marched off to the bean fields to calm his nerves. Woe betide the chicken that pecked into his way!

An hour later, while pounding a cockerel carcass into the dust. He dimly heard someone tell him they would actually be eating beef that day, but Zechariah was too miserable to care. After a final thunderous blow to the bird’s wing, he turned his red, tear-covered face to his smiling dad. “Come inside and see your brother.” The old man said “We must forgive him for leaving and welcome him back. That is the meaning of family, isn’t it?”
“Sorry Dad, but I’m a bit shocked. Don’t worry; you can always count on me being in for the dinner. See you later.”

Unfortunately for a passing goat, Zeph’s fury had yet to completely subside. True to his word he returned for the beef, leaving a bruised, bleeding, and bleating animal behind. This return of his brother was not very good for the herds, but Zephaniah did manage to control himself at dinner. He had by now decided that the story of Esau and Jacob was too good for his brother. The only task that mattered now was to read up on the story of Joseph, or even of Cain and Abel. Joash would certainly be in for a big surprise.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/15/07
I really liked your unique POV, and the extension to the story that you speculated.

The son's language seemed a bit idiomatic and out-of-context with the setting.

Giving the characters names really gave me a fresh view of them--this was a fun read.