Tonight was the night!
Yosef’s hands trembled with anticipation, whole body aching. No more lying awake in bed watching her. No more ‘fertilizing’ the back garden in the night.
Miriam’s time of impurity was over. Yosef was grateful that the baby was a boy and he didn’t have to wait longer.
As she bent to pour him more water, he ran his calloused fingers up her arm.
“Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
Thy neck is like a tower. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.” He looked up, shyly.
She was laughing! “Where did you learn that? It sounds very … old.” Her cheeks bloomed pink and she looked away.
He blushed too, suddenly unsure. “It is from the scripture. I thought it sounded romantic?”
“The holy scriptures? You shouldn’t be sharing that with a woman, remember what the rabbi said!” Her voice was quiet and worried.
“Ha!” snorted Yosef, romantic mood forgotten at the thought of the snake-eyed self-important mouth of the synagogue. “He said that Adam and Eve sinned because the woman twisted the holy words of our master. If the rabbi had bothered reading the scriptures he would know that Eve sinned because she wasn’t actually taught our Lord’s words. Ignorance was the real sin, not woman, and our rabbi should remember that!”
The man’s wife looked up, wide-eyed. She liked what he said, but was still afraid. “We can’t speak of the great rabbi like that!” It was more of a question, her whisper unsure.
The man snorted again. “I call no man ‘great’ who is afraid of a little girl”.
The baby began to fuss. Yosef walked over and held up the little child. Once again he was overcome with awe of the delicate perfection in his hands.
To think that his ‘friends’ had advised the death of these two beautiful people. Yosef was not a fan of punishing the innocent to protect the guilty. After his aunt had been sent away when the rabbi’s son raped her he vowed never to take part in punishing the so called ‘adulteresses’.
Yosef vowed again to protect those truly in need and to teach his son the same. His son. Yes, this was his son. No matter who was responsible for his birth, he was responsible for his life.
The baby, now clean and dry, cooed and fell back asleep. The man looked up. The woman was done cleaning the pot, and staring at him. Her eyes were tender and hungry. Hungry for him.
Instantly he was at her side. First stroking her hair, her cheeks, her lips. She moaned and grabbed his hard torso.
He forgot the gentle touch that seconds ago put a baby to sleep. A year of waiting and watching exploded into an anguished blaze as he grabbed her.
“No! Don’t hurt me!” His panting, inviting wife changed into a ball of frozen fear. Arms which seconds ago grabbed frantically at him now clutched her quivering body.
He slowly lowered himself onto their sleeping mat.
“I will not hurt you. I never want to remind you of that soldier… ” he cursed the Roman under his breath.
“Look at me, Miriam.” His voice was quiet. “You are in charge. I’ll lie here. You can do anything you want – sleep even. I can wait. I’ll only touch you how and where you tell me.”
He paused and then whispered, “I love you.”
At his voice she opened her eyes again, taking in her surroundings as if for the first time.
“I’m sorry,” she began.
“Shhh.” He smiled and held out his hands.
Then she reached out and laid her hand on his chest.
“Your chest, my love, is like a whole flock of woolly sheep, not yet sheared, coming down the mountain to graze on the coarse dessert grasses.”
She grabbed his hands and pulled them towards her.
“What did you say my neck was?”