Danyelle Wolfe Read
Two short snippets from my story "Garment of Praise", now published as part of an anthology entitled Birds of Passage. Purchase your copy of this collection of short stories, support a wonderful cause, and get nineteen inspirational stories by award-winning authors. There's a lot of inspiration and entertainment in those pages! Click here.
We travel to ancient Palestine, to circa 3 b.c. A young teen named Miryam has gotten pregnant and the father is not her betrothed. Rejected by family and the love of her life, her fiance Joseph, she travels to her aunt and uncle's home. There she finds welcome and support, and learns that they are pregnant, too. "Garment of Praise" features a fictional behind-the-scenes look at spiritual warfare.
Peek inside "Garment of Praise"
Copyright 2015-17 Danyelle Wolfe Read
“…to give them the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Is 61:3
In the days before the Light defeated darkness and took back the keys to the lower kingdoms, the dark lord held earth captive, blocking all recourse by deception. Only a remnant remembered that God is good.
Anna dropped the heavy basket full of wet clothes on the rooftop floor. Her chest heaved but the corners of her mouth turned upward at an image in her mind of her daughter who, at three years old, would reach for the handles of that same basket, saying, “Hep you, Imah.” Her eyes wandered to the horizon, as she wondered where her girl might be, whether she were even alive.
Anna turned to the basket for distraction from a sudden flood of regret. The sun was reaching its zenith. She needed to finish setting the clothes to dry before the brick village became a reflecting oven that would force her to remove her outer garment. The tunic beneath it was suitable for public appearance by Jewish custom, yet she would feel immodest standing on the rooftop with arms and shoulders exposed. Out in the fields was fine. The sheep didn’t care and the other shepherdesses wouldn’t notice.
The area doubled as a place for drying flax. She had the skill to transform the stalks into linen so fine, patricians in Jerusalem and Joppa reserved her future bundles with signed notes. She made sure there weren’t any stray stems to work their way into the clothes before she spread the wet garments out.
“Thank You, Sovereign Lord, for the skill to provide for my family,” she said. Her head bent in prayer for a moment, as she had been taught by her mother, and as her mother before her had taught her, all the way back to the house of David.
She straightened the shoulder of one of her husband’s embroidered tunic, caring for it as if it were to be worn by the son of Jesse himself. A movement on the road caught her eye. A telltale swirl of dust was rising from the Southeast. She shielded her face from the sun with both arms to get a clear view.
A figure astride a donkey emerged, ephemeral amid the twisting dusty spirals. The rider’s head rolled upon her shoulders. Concern gave way to recognition. Anna lunged down the ladders two stories to the courtyard, and was out the door and through the village gates in seconds, her sturdy calves flinging her skirts awry. She caught up with girl and beast three hundred spans from the gate, anchoring the donkey’s reins beneath her arched foot. Shouldering the girl off its back, she found she could walk, with support. Anna kept her arm around her waist while she towed the ass behind. They came through the gates with several curious heads turning in their direction. Anna tethered the donkey in the shade beside the milking goat, which chewed its cud without a glance at its erstwhile companion.
Inside the stone-cool interior, Anna laid the girl on a sheepskin blanket. She unhooked a bulging bladder from a post. As she held it to the tender lips, the young face contorted in protest against the cool water on her sun-cracked mouth, but soon the liquid gurgled down her throat as she gulped it. When the water skin was one-quarter empty, Anna pulled it away.
“Enough for now, my sweet.” She cradled the girl’s head in her lap. “Oh, how I have prayed for this day, that you would find your way back home, my darling girl, my precious girl.” She pushed back the shawl that covered her head and sprinkled her face with water from the cistern used for ritual washing, drying it with a cloth.
Revived by water, shade, and the human touch, the girl’s eyes blinked open. “Imah,” she said. She struggled to push herself up to sitting, leaning on the wall for support. Anna offered her the water skin again, but she refused. The girl gazed upon her as if she could see through flesh to the soul. “Imah, I’m sorry-”
Love and relief swelled within her mother’s heart. “Shhhshush now,” she interrupted, “It is I who should apologize, your father and I, we want you here. We will redeem your honor with a lamb, a bull if we can afford it. I promise, Miryam, you and your child, my grandchild, will always be welcome in this home. No matter who--no matter what,” she said firmly.
Miryam listened, her azure eyes registering comprehension. The bulge at her belly became more apparent as she bent to lean on her mother, while out of the depths of her came an immense sigh. Taking this as a sign that her words had comforted her daughter, Anna held her and sang a song she had often sung to her.
“Be strong, for I am with you. I will never leave you, no, never will I forsake you.” The melody was one many Israelite women sang to their children.
They started when they heard a deep voice from the doorway. “The prodigal daughter has returned, I see.”
Miryam clung closer. “Welcome home, my lord Heli Joachim,” Anna said. “We did not hear you approach.” She spoke courteously, but arched her thick eyebrows in silent warning.
* * *
She glistened like sapphire inlaid with emerald upon the arm of a gigantic, ghostly cephalopod in the galaxy where she was placed. Entering this sector of interstellar space, so distant from the planet Earth, General Archangel Michael’s strategy was to gain an advantage. Usually he entered into the dense regions of the chronos realm at mission ground zero. However, the dark minions would be watching, alerted by the heightened activity surrounding Zacharias, Elizabeth, and Miryam.
Seven thousand seasoned warriors, archangel and angel, fully mature, not a youngling among them, flanked a single Messenger Archangel, in seven cohorts. Stray minions would scratch their dessicated heads at the sight, then flee, rather than confront such a force. Michael had dispersed scouting parties to dispatch any observers before they could return to give the warning.
Yet, Michael was uneasy. The loss of Zedekiel was still fresh. He spun in midair, observing the army’s formation. It took but a millisecond for him to confirm that the buffer around Gabriel was still in place. He forced himself not to think about casualties, focusing on victory instead. He envisioned his army’s peaceful return to the golden barracks beside the holy courts.
* * *
Birds of Passage is a collection of edgy Christian fictional short stories by a talented group of award-winning authors. The anthology will benefit a non-profit agency helping families in North Carolina get back on their feet. To learn more about it and to be part of this wonderful cause, please visit www.EdgyChristianFiction.com.
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