Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN (04/13/17)
- TITLE: Refuge
By Yvonne Blake
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Simon couldn’t wait to find out. He had to keep going. At times, the sun seemed to race against him across the sky. Other times, it seemed to urge him on, pushing him to the finish line before the darkness and his enemy overtook him.
When Simeon’s legs gave way for the tenth time, a farmer’s cart rumbled past. “Please, sir! Shechem, Shechem. I need refuge!”
The owner halted his oxen. He looked first to Simon kneeling barefoot before him, then to the road behind them. “Why are you being pursued?”
“I am innocent, I swear. I did not kill Asriel. Please, please, help me.”
“How am I to know if you are innocent or not? I cannot save you if we are overtaken. Only the counsel in Shechem can do that.”
“He will surely kill me if you do not lend me aid.” Simeon pointed to the dark figure in the distance.
The farmer grumbled under his breath, but pulled back the skins covering his cart. “Be quick. I can take you to the next village and give you drink. It will help you gain your strength.”
“Thank you, sir.” Simon took a swig of the warm water, collapsed amid the grain, and prayed that his pursuer didn’t also receive a ride. Hopefully, he would also be weak and thirsty. “My Lord God,” he prayed. “Have mercy on my soul. Deliver me from my enemy today. For You alone know that I am innocent of my friend’s blood.”
Simeon replayed the events of the morning. Asriel and he had risen with the dawning sun to complete a new home. They had been friends since childhood and vowed to help each other build a house when they reached the age of marriage. Asriel hoped to ask for the hand of sweet Tira as soon as he finished making a house to offer her.
They had spent weeks clearing his portion of land on Mount Ephraim and laying the bricks for the walls. Today, they planned to place the roof bracings and cover them with tiles. Asriel had worked from one side of the building, while Simeon started on the other side – working toward the center. In only a few hours, the beams were evenly spaced, with smaller branches woven over them. Simeon wasn’t sure which one of them was to blame –probably both of them, for neither had double checked their work.
While they waited for Malchir, Asriel’s brother, to deliver the plaster tiles, they rested on the edge of the roof. They drank some cool spring water and laughed over memories. Asriel playfully grabbed the skin bag, and Simeon tried to get it back. Both boys wrestled and rolled over the unfinished roof until . . .
Simeon winced at the memory. With a panicked yelp, Asriel had crashed backward through the network of branches to the floor beneath. Simeon peered between the cracks. Asriel was not moving. He swung down and quickly reached his friend’s side. He shook him. He shouted his name. He splashed water over his face. He raised his arm to pound life into the breathless chest.
It was then Malchir arrived. “Stop! What has happened?” Seeing Asriel’s still form amid the rubble of broken wood, he turned to Simeon. “You killed my brother!”
“No! No! I didn’t. He fell.” Recognizing his own danger, he had fled through an open door with Malchir shouting threats behind him.
A jolt of the cart told Simeon that they had left the maintained road. They bumped along for a few feet then stopped. The farmer lifted the skins. “You don’t have far to Shechem – perhaps only five miles. If you hurry, you’ll be there by nightfall. God have mercy on you.”
Simeon looked back. He couldn’t see much in the gathering shadows, but could hear steady footsteps. He quickly nodded his head at the kind stranger. “Bless you, sir.” With renewed energy, he resumed his course. The walls of refuge were his only hope.
(Numbers 35:11, 12 “Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.”)
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