Fiction Thursday: Fully Alive, Chapter 5

This is a continuing fiction story.

If you would like to read the other parts of Fully Alive, please click HERE.

If you would like to read other fiction by me, please see my short story Quarantined, here on the blog, my book A New Beginning on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and my continuing story The Farmer’s Daughter here on the blog.

“What do you think you’ll do, Yeshua? Save a girl who is already dead?”

The men laughed.

“What a fool!”

“Who does he think he is?”

“Oh, don’t you remember? He is the son of God.”

More laughter.

“If you hadn’t stopped to talk to that unclean woman, maybe she’d still be alive.”

“Go, we don’t need you here! She’s gone!”

“Clear this house so only your family is here.”

Jairus woke with a start. His memories of that day lingered in his mind as the fog of sleep faded.

It had been two years since Josefa had been raised from the dead. There were some parts of the story he wondered if he had imagined, yet he heard the voices in his dreams each night, seconds before he drifted off to sleep. Josefa often told him the same happened to her.

She wasn’t sure if her memories were dreams or her dreams were memories. She often asked Jairus about the day and what he remembered.

Sometimes Jairus answered, other times he waved her away, told her to go outside and play with her friends, be a child, enjoy life. There was only so many times he could talk about it, still unsure of what had happened and what he should believe.

He thought about the day at the temple. The day the man had reached up, asked Yeshua to heal his hand. Jairus could feel the anger coming off the other synagogue leaders, rabbis, and teachers.

“He would not dare to try his antics on Shabbat,” Rabbi Avigdor whispered bitterly, his face was twisted in disgust.

When Yeshua had told the man to step forward a hush settled over the leaders in the temple. Yeshua turned and looked at each man, as if searching for just one there who might have compassion on the man.

“You know healing is forbidden on Shabbat,” one of the leaders said curtly, as if to answer his gaze.

“Is it lawful on Shabbat to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill?”

The leaders pulled their gaze from Yeshua’s and looked at the stone floor, their sandals, anywhere but at the man they had allowed to speak within their walls and now seemed to be challenging them. They fell silent, unwilling to answer him.

Jairus could only watch in surprise. He saw anger mixed with sadness flicker in Yeshua’ eyes before Yeshua turned away from the other leaders to face the man.

“Stretch out your hand,” Yeshua said firmly.

Jairus could tell it pained the man to reveal the withered hand as he lifted it toward Yeshua.

 Yeshua laid his hand over the man’s and when he withdrew it, the marks that had been there were gone. A murmur of shock rippled throughout the crowd of men who had been watching.

“Blasphemy!” Avigdor spat, his body visibly trembling with anger.

“I refuse to stand here and watch this man mock our laws and our traditions. Levi, Micha, Moshe, come with me.”

 Jairus pondered in amazement at the man flexing his fingers, staring at his hand in shock and wonder.

“My hand!” the man’s face was wet with tears. He took Yeshua’ hand and kissed it. “Thank you. Thank you.”

“Jairus!” Avigdor shouted for him from the doorway.

Jairus looked away from Yeshua and the man as Avigdor jerk his head toward the front steps.

He followed the rabbi into the bright sunlight and heat of the day.

“Jairus, tell me you don’t believe the blasphemy of this man?” Avigdor snapped at him.

Rabbi Levi didn’t wait for Jairus to answer. He was incredulous. “Must we again listen to another self-proclaimed messiah?”

“We will not. But too many people – they are already following him,” Avigdor said sharply. “We can not let his man lead our people out of the will of God.”

Levi shook his head and put his hand behind his back.

“But what can we do? How can we stop him?”

Jairus stood outside of the group, tugging at his beard.

“I think we should wait – see what else he says. He may stumble eventually,” he offered finally.

“Wait for what? For him to lead a revolt against us or even worse cause more issues with the Romans?” Avigdor growled. “Jairus, don’t be foolish –“

“Maybe he’s right,” Rabbi Micha took his turn to speak, holding his hand up as if to pause their racing thoughts. “The people will eventually see that this Yeshua isn’t who they think he is. They’ll eventually see he brings them empty promises. If we leave him alone he will eventually  stumble and make a fool of himself.”

“He already speaks blasphemy. He already mocks our ways,” Avigdor snapped. “What more should we wait for?”

Rabbi Levi put his hand gently on Avigdor’s shoulder. “Shabbat is almost over. Let us try to calm ourselves and pray. We won’t help matters yelling and screaming when we are so fired up. We will return to this topic after Shabbat, when we’ve had time to clear our heads.”

Levi was often the voice of reason and the one who could calm Avigdor, but this was one time Jairus wasn’t sure it would work.

Avigdor shook his head, looked at the ground for a moment and then looked at Levi.

“You are right, Levi. I will bring this up again after Sabbath,” he said, still with an edge to his voice, but now calmer than before. “But I can not promise you my opinion will not be the same.”

Jairus followed behind the men then paused and looked back at the door of the synagogue. Yeshua and the man he had healed were walking through the doorway.

“Rabbi, how can I ever thank you?” the man was asking, tears streaking his cheeks.

Yeshua stopped walking and turned toward the man.

“Honor your God each day. Have no other gods before him. Love others as you love yourself.”

The man kissed Yeshua’ hand, which was clasped in his own.

“I will do my best,” he told Yeshua.

“That is all God asks of you,” Yeshua said softly, a smile tilting his mouth upward.

He turned and as his followers came around him they all walked together into the crowd, which swallowed Yeshua from Jairus’ view.

“Josefa! Can you come to the stream to play?”

Her friend Caleb peered at her through the curtain of her sleeping quarters window.

 She rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

“After chores, yes.”

The sun was high the sky when Josefa finally took off her sandals and placed her feet in the stream near the olive trees. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the cool water against her skin.

Caleb leaned close to her and whispered in her ear. “I heard another story about demons and Yeshua’ followers.”

“Caleb. Stop that. There is no such thing as demons.”

“There totally is! They said Yeshua’ 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.”

“Like this!” Caleb fell on the ground and his face twisted up while he jerked around with his arms against his chest, flailing back and forth.

He jumped up and stuck his tongue out at Josefa and shook his head back and forth vigorously

Josefa put her hands up as if to push Caleb away from her as he continued to distort his face, bursting into laughter.

“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 down his nose. “The most high Gawd! Be goooone!”

Josefa put her hand over her mouth and giggled until the sound of footsteps startled them both.

Caleb’s older brother, Enoch, scowled down at them.

“Who do these men think they are?” he snapped. Acting as if they have authority to mess with the possessed?”

Enoch knelt next to the stream to fill his wineskin, shaking his  head.

“No one asked you, Enoch,” Caleb said, rolling his eyes.

Enock snorted. “These are the words of children. Stories. That’s all they are. Only a baby like you would believe them.”

Caleb stood, hands clenched into fists. “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 Enoch. “’I am a servant of the devil!’ That’s what the man said.”

Enoch stepped away from his brother, turned his back to him and tied his bag closed.

“And, besides, Yeshua raised Josefa from the dead!” Caleb’s voice was loud and defiant.

Josefa’s cheeks flushed red.

“Caleb . . .”

“What?” Caleb said. “He did! You should tell more people! They should know the truth about Yeshua and his followers and who they really are.”

“You speak foolishness, Caleb,” Enoch said.

Enoch turned toward Josefa and she caught his gaze, his deep green eyes watching her. The palms of her hands were warm, moist and her heart pounded hard and fast in her chest.

Enoch smirked and stepped toward her. “Is this true, Josefa? Is it true what people are saying? Tell me, Josefa, daughter of Jairus, what did Yeshua really do?”

Her heart pounding in her ears almost drowned out his mocking words.

She kept her eyes down, looking at the olive branch in her hand. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Why? Because it’s a lie, right? What your family said happened is a lie isn’t it?”

Josefa turned to look at Enoch, her face warm.

“He asked us not to speak of it —”

Enoch laughed. “Of course, he did.” His smile faded, he stepped toward her and towered above her. “Because nothing happened.”

Caleb was furious. “They were already holding a time of mourning for her, Enoch! You don’t know! You were out with the sheep. But it’s true! I was there! I was crying!”

Enoch shook his head and tied his wine skin 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 Yeshua came with those men and then he told us all to leave.”

Enoch’s haughty laugh interrupted their exchange.

“Of course, Yeshua wanted everyone to leave. So, he could pretend Josefa was really dead.” He ruffled Caleb’s hair, but 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, Enoch.”

Her voice softened to a whisper. “But I was dead.”

The sound of a passing cart drowned out her voice.

Enoch walked around the children and called out to his older brother.

“Joseph wait for me!”

“Why didn’t you tell him?” Caleb asked as Enoch and Joseph disappeared down the road.

“I don’t know. Yeshua 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.