Tauthe huddled in the corner, her emotions churning like the sea she was named for. She watched the door, her own door, and stiffened as another woman entered.
For a moment the silence stretched between them, thickening, hardening. Then Aliya spoke. “Where is my supper?”
Touthe snapped upright. How dare she speak like that? Who was she to… Touthe swallowed. “I’ll fetch it.” She’d rather die than add the “my lady” that was expected at the end of every utterance.
It trailed between them, unspoken, as she left the room. In the kitchen she stared at the fire pit. How could she be expected to bend over the hot flames, know when the meat was cooked to the right temperature, choose the right spices, any of it? She lifted a piece of wood. The rough sides bit into her hand.
Anger welled in her toward the men of her village. How could they be so weak? So stupid as to let the Israelites conquer them? To force a lady such as herself to perform work such as this?
She flung the kindling to the floor. It crashed against the wall, sending a basket of food flying.
Aliya appeared in the doorway. “What is the meaning of this?”
“I will not do it. I will not cook or clean or serve my own slave.” She spat the words. Spat, like she wished she could spit right into this woman’s face.
“Former slave.” The Hebrew woman’s face twitched, almost as though she dared smirk. “And you will. I am the mistress now.” She turned to leave, then hesitated. “There are worse possible fates, you know.” Her voice seemed almost gentle. Almost sympathetic.
She left the room.
Touthe sunk to the floor. Her body trembled, with rage and with fear. To her great consternation, tears insisted on overflowing, dripping down her cheeks to make muddy puddles on the floor. The floor wouldn’t be muddy if she were still in charge.
How would she do this? How could she do this?
Something brushed her arm. She jerked.
Aliya bent nearby, picking up the spilled basket. She turned to Touthe. “Come, I will show you how to cook. You will learn so you may do it yourself.”
What? Touthe dashed away her tears. “Why would you do that?” She expected the answer to be something about wanting unburned food, not accepting badly-done work.
“My God is one to be feared and obeyed. He will not tolerate those who do not follow Him.” Aliya held out a hand, offering to help Touthe to her feet. “Yet He is also a God of mercy and love, eager to embrace those who turn to Him. He is a God of forgiveness, willing to put past transgressions behind Him, giving a second chance. I wish to be like Him.”
Touthe stared at that hand, rough and work-stained. One she herself had slapped innumerable times.
“Will you learn from me?” Aliya pressed.
Touthe took a breath and grasped her hand. As she stood to her feet, she looked into the Hebrew’s eyes and nodded.
“Yes, my lady.”
...the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors. ~ Isaiah 14:2 KJV
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