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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Achievement (03/08/12)

TITLE: If Only
By Kathleen Langridge


Sarah brushed her sun-bronzed hair off a sweat-beaded brow. Bending over her washtub, she resumed scrubbing the cloths over the rocks, in a desperate attempt to get them clean. The mid-morning sun beat down, refusing even the shade-dappled courtyard to escape the relentless heat.

“Sarah,” Mother whispered from the doorway. “Come inside before the neighbors see you.”

“I’m almost done; Mother.” She hurried to finish the odious task.

“You need to get back to your room. You are endangering the whole family. If you are seen we will be thrown out of the synagogue.” Muttering, Esther began pacing before the courtyard door.

“Sarah, don’t forget to put the wash water in the fish bucket. Have you put your drying line up in your room?”

Sarah struggled to get the bag of wet cloths and the washtub, still filled with water, through the door, hurrying to get herself hidden. “Yes, Mother, it’s ready.”

“You know I would help you, Daughter, but you also know I cannot contaminate myself. It is enough that your father carries that bloodied water, in the fish bucket, down to the sea every night.” Esther waved frantic hands at Sarah, intending to hurry her.

After dumping the evil bloodied water, Sarah began to peg out her laundry in the confines of her cramped room.

Her mind drifted back to the villa by the sea she had enjoyed when she was married, before her illness took it all away. First her son was born dead and then the bleeding started. David didn’t want a divorce but his mother wouldn’t let such shame be brought upon their family. He continued to support her until he married again, last year. She loved him, still.

Her reverie was interrupted; her father was home.

“Esther, Esther, where is she? I have a message for her.”

“Simon, what are you saying? Does someone know Sarah is living here? We will lose everything if the truth is known.” Esther stood before her husband, wringing her hands.

“Esther, go get her. I need to give her this message, from David.”

“Oh my,” sobbed Esther as she ran to Sarah’s bedroom door.

“I know, Mother. I heard. I am going.”

In her anguish, Esther warned, “Don’t touch him and don’t look into his eyes when he speaks.”

Eyes cast down; Sarah entered the main room and stood before her father.

Simon clasped and unclasped his hands, finally folding his arms behind his back as though fighting to keep from reaching out to hug his beautiful daughter.

Sarah sensed his struggle, “Yes, Father?”

“Sarah, I have a message from David. He wants you to join the crowd following the Rabbi, Jesus. He says Jesus is healing all who come to him and David has seen the miracles. If you can get to Jesus, he could make you well, Daughter. You must dress so as not to be recognized and do it quickly.”

“If I am seen, I might be stoned for making others unclean even if I just accidentally touch someone.” Sarah glanced up at her father before turning away.

“Sarah, if you can accomplish this—your life will be changed, forever. Please hurry and do what I say.”

Her burnished hair completely covered, Sarah felt the sun-warmed stones through her leather soles as she slipped with care out of the alley behind her parents’ house.

She heard the crowds before she saw them. Working her way toward the front, she listened to people talk about Jesus, the one they were following. The heat from the crush of people was dizzying.

People were pointing and saying, “There he is; there’s Jesus.”

Sarah pushed against those in front of her and beside her as she reached out to touch the tassels on his prayer shawl. “If only I can touch him, I will be healed.” In a sliver of a moment her hand grasped the corner tassel and Jesus stopped. Sarah released the tassel, falling to her knees. She stayed where she had fallen—shaking, yet strangely hopeful, at what might happen next.

Jesus turning around spoke to those near him, “Who touched me?”

Still shaking, Sarah stood and looked into his eyes. “It was I, Master. For twelve years I have been unclean with an issue of blood. All my money is gone, spent on doctors who could not help me. I knew if only I could touch you, healing would be mine.”

“Daughter, you have done well; your faith has made you completely whole.”

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This article has been read 351 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laura Manley03/17/12
You wrote this account of Sarah very well. If only some of the rest of us had the faith she had. Wonderful take on this Biblical story.
Dolores Stohler03/18/12
I felt great sympathy for Sarah; you gave life to the Biblical story and made me so grateful to have access to good medical care. Kudos to you for a job well done.
Barbara Bjorge03/18/12
I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks! It made the story come alive for me in a new way.
Lillian Rhoades 03/20/12
I was there in every scene you so skillfully described. I could 'feel" the emotions of your characters as you gave you them life.

Just a tiny bit of red ink. Check for misplaced commas. I know the 750 word limit often limits :-) you, but I was hoping for more with the conclusion.

Nevertheless, a great story and well-written.
PamFord Davis 03/20/12
Dramatic story. I love to "read between the lines" of scripture and you have mastered that!
Joanne Sher 03/21/12
I LOVE biblical fiction, and this is a lovely piece. Was very curious where you were going with this, and was pleasantly surprised when I found out. Thanks for sharing!
C D Swanson 03/21/12
I love Biblical references and stories concerning Biblical characters. This was a very good story and well written. I loved it.
Thank you so much.

God Bless~
Dannie Hawley 03/21/12
Very well done and I loved the story! Maybe you should plan to re-write it in a longer form for the mini-challenge? Would make a lovely piece, if that is allowed for the "If only " articles.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/22/12
Wow! This gave me goosebumps. You did such a marvelous job at bringing the bleeding woman to life. I think the only reason it may have not placed higher is because perhaps the judges thought it a tad weak on the topic because in my opinion every other category was nearly perfect. I had goosebumps when I read this piece. Congratulations for placing 6th in level one!
Seema Bagai 03/22/12
Well-written. I could picture the scene unfolding. Vivid choice of details and phrases. Great job.
AnneRene' Capp03/23/12
Kitkat...I loved this! I was ministered to with not only Ester's faith, but by the depth of love intertwined with fearful devotion by her parents. The life you brought to this allowed me to walk in all of their shoes throughout the story. Thank You!
Amy Michelle Wiley 03/24/12
I never thought much of the "unclean" life she must have lived before that time. Well done at helping me envision it better. Great story!