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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