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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Body Language (11/25/10)

TITLE: Mara's Touch
By Ruth Neilson


Mara felt the wood walls shake with the force of the door slamming behind her. She spun around and stared at her brother as he gestured wildly with his hands as he was speaking. At least, she assumed he was speaking, she couldn't tell at the speed that his lips where moving. A frown creased her brow as she tried to make sense of what he was saying. He continued to move rapidly, spreading his arms wide as he continued to talk. She pressed her lips together in confusion, as she caught the word 'messengers' followed rapidly the word, 'Messiah.'

Her mouth dropped open at the very idea of the Messiah finally coming—it couldn't be.

Her brother took a step towards her, pointing first at her then towards the west, towards Bethlehem. Mara's eyes widened at the implication and shook her head frantically. No Messiah would want to see her. She was a no one, a simple deaf shepherdess. He stalked across the dirt floor and picked up her shawl and cloak before forcibly handing them to her. Mara made a face but complied, it was clear that she did not have a choice. Dramatically, she got redressed and her brother leaned over, snagged her wrist, and dragged her outside.

She yanked away, giving him a dark look as he then forced her to look up. She fought until her eyes caught sight of something she hadn't seen in the heavens before; a new star seemed to hang low on the horizon, over Bethlehem.

For the second time in the evening, her mouth dropped open. Slowly, she lowered her head and stared at her brother for a long hard moment before pointing to the star. He nodded and then gestured towards Bethlehem. She made a face and rubbed her face. The very idea of going into Bethlehem scared her. She hated being in a crowd and her brother knew that. He patted his hand in their old code that meant he understood.

She sighed heavily, her curiosity was peeked though. Mara glanced skyward again and she then looked around. It looked like all of the other shepherds were going into Bethlehem. Timidly, she glanced at her brother and nodded. She wanted to see the Messiah...even if she was going to be turned away. Her brother smiled and together they joined the crowd of people heading towards Bethlehem.

Everyone kept on looking up. Their faces reflecting the awe of the star and everything that it held in its promise. Instead of the normal steady pace that they would keep on the journey, tonight was a quick pace and there was a definite sense of urgency in the air. It was as if there was a fear that the star and everything that it implied would vanish before their very eyes.

Mara focused on her fellow shepherds and noted how each man kept on retelling what they saw. At least that is what she assumed based on their broad and animated gestures and the rapid way that their mouths where moving.

She just wished that she could hear the story for herself. To hear what these mysterious messengers looked like and said. She sighed heavily and slowly the group came to a stop in front of a cave. There was a press of the crowd around and Mara felt a sudden inhale of air around her followed by a rush of excitement. She peered into the cave and tilted her head to the side. There, lying in the manger was a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and over Him hovered His parents.

Mara continued to stare at the baby and then occasionally glancing around at the others surrounding her. Everyone else seemed to keep their head down in fearful reverence. She glanced back at the baby and His father made eye contact with her before offering her a welcoming smile. She blinked in surprise as he picked up the baby and carried Him over to her.

With a trembling hand, she brushed His fist and let out a soft sigh as He grasped her finger.

Mara swallowed rapidly, feeling everyone's eyes on her and she accepted the sleeping baby, wondering if He knew what she was thinking...that she was unworthy to be holding the Messiah, and yet here she was, cradling Him close. She hoped He could hear her thoughts as she pressed a gentle kiss to His forehead and handed Him back to His father.
Based from Luke 2:8-11

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/04/10
Very creative idea and a beautiful story
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/05/10
I so enjoyed this version of the shepherds coming to see the Messiah and see the star and feel the wonder.
Rachel Phelps12/06/10
Excellent creativity! Some of the phrasing felt a little clunky - try reading it out loud and finding a voice for your MC, make us feel what she feels. Loved this idea with Christmas coming up.
Noel Mitaxa 12/07/10
You have filled in gaps in the narrative with a strong dose of reality through your descriptions of the visible events and the invisible thoughts of this shepherd girl. A great thought-provoker as Christmas approaches.