This is a continuing fiction story, based on a series of verses from the Bible. To read the other parts of the story click the following links:
“Josefa! Can you come to the stream to play?”
Her friend Caleb was peering at her through the curtain of her sleeping quarters window.
She rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
“After chores, yes.”
The sun wasn’t very high in the sky when Josefa finally took off her sandals and placed her feet in the stream near the olive trees. The water felt cool against her skin and she closed her eyes to enjoy the coolness of the water and the warmth of the sun.
“I heard another story about demons and Jesus’ followers,” Caleb leaned in close to whisper to her.
“Caleb. Now, stop that. There is no such thing as demons.”
“There totally is! They said Jesus’ follower named Matthew spoke to the man and said there was a demon in him. The man who told me said the man with the demon spoke funny and fell to the ground.”
Caleb fell on the ground and his face twisted up while he jerked around with his arms against his chest and then flailing back and forth.
“Like this!” He jumped up and stuck his tongue out at Josefa and shook his head back and forth vigorously
Josefa burst into laughter and put her hands up as if to push Caleb away from her as he continued to distort his face.
Caleb stepped back and stopped laughing.
“Then the man yelled back at Matthew and told him he lived there now and he wasn’t leaving, but Matthew said ‘You have no place here, demon and in the name of the most high God I command you to leave.’”
Caleb pointed at an imaginary man and made a stern face to imitate Matthew.
“In the name of the –“
He stepped closer to Josefa as he continued to point. He lifted his chin and looked sternly at her.
“The most high Gawd! Be goooone!”
Josefa put her hand over her mouth and giggled.
The sound of footsteps startled the pair.
Caleb’s older brother smirked as he looked down at them.
“Who do these men think they are? Acting as if they have authority to mess with the possessed?” he snapped.
Caleb’s older brother knelt next to the stream to fill his wineskin. He shook his head.
“No one asked you, Levi.”
“These are the words of children. Stories. That’s all they are. Only a baby like you would believe them.”
“That’s not true! I heard them talking about it in the market. That man named Matthew called a demon out.”
Caleb made a weird face again and staggered toward Levi. “I am a servant of the devil!” he said, pretending to be the possessed man.
Levi stepped away from his brother and rolled his eyes.
“And, besides, Jesus raised Josefa from the dead!” Caleb’s voice was loud and defiant.
Josefa’s cheeks flushed red.
“What? He did! You should tell more people! They should know the truth about Jesus and his followers and who they really are.”
“You speak foolishness, Caleb,” Levi said.
Levi turned toward her and she found herself unable to look up into his green eyes. Her heart pounded fast and furious and the palms of her hands grew moist.
“Is this true, Josefa? Tell me what Jesus really did.”
She could hear her heart in her ears now.
“I don’t want to talk about it, Levi.” She kept her eyes down, looking at the olive branch in her hand.
“Why? Because it is a lie? Right? What the people in your neighborhood said happened is a lie isn’t it?”
Josefa turned to look at Levi. A rush of warmth filled her.
“He asked us not to speak of it –“
Levi laughed. “Of course, he did. Because nothing happened.”
“They were already holding a time of mourning for her, Levi. You don’t know! You were out with the sheep. But it’s true! I was there! I was crying!”
Levi shook his head and tied his wineskin to his belt and reached for his staff.
“She was probably just asleep. You cry over everything. You’re still a boy.”
“She wasn’t breathing. I saw her! I touched her!”
Josefa looked at Caleb. She hadn’t known he’d been with her.
“You were there?” she asked softly.
Caleb’s cheeks were red now.
“Yes. I came because I did not want to believe it. I didn’t want to believe you were gone. I was there when Jesus came with those men and then he told us all to leave.”
Levi’s haughty laugh interrupted their exchange.
“of course Jesus wanted everyone to leave. So he could pretend Josefa was really dead.” He ruffled Caleb’s hair and Caleb slapped his hand way. “Okay, little one, I’m leaving you and your friend to your childish tales. Take care of mama while Joseph and I are gone to find the lost sheep.”
He paused and looked at Josefa, half turned away from her.
“Take care, Josefa. I don’t believe you were truly dead, but I am glad you are still alive.”
“Thank you, Levi,” her voice softened to a whisper and she tried to form the words “But I was dead.”
The sound of a passing cart drowned out her voice.
Levi walked around the children and called out to his older brother.
“Joseph wait for me!”
“Why didn’t you tell him?” Caleb asked as Levi and Joseph disappeared down the road.
“I don’t know. Jesus said to tell no one. I wasn’t sure –“
“But so many already know, Josefa. They know the truth about what happened to you. If it was me, I wouldn’t be ashamed. I’d be excited to let everyone know that I had been dead but now was alive.”
Josefa flicked at the water with her fingers and stared at the pools rolling into each other.
“But what if no one believes me?” she asked.
“But what if some do?” Caleb countered.
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