Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fiction for October 9, 2009

Friday Fiction is hosted again this week by Karlene at Homespun Expressions. Be sure to find MckLinky there, and visit the other submissions for some great reading.

This week, I’ve dug out a project that has been on the back burner for a while.
The Peculiar People group on Faithwriters has another story in work, and this one has me well outside my comfort zone. My contribution for this project is a historical fiction piece titled, “If I Forget Jerusalem,” set during the Lisbon Massacre of 1506. I need to dig up my research materials for this again, and get ready to finish the piece before the end of the year. For now, I don’t think it violates the Peculiar People project to share this short excerpt from my section (particularly since it doesn’t contain any spoilers to the story).

If I Forget Jerusalem
By Rick Higginson

Chapter 1
Shushan Purim – The Feast of Esther
Wednesday, March 11th, 1506 – early afternoon

“It is foolish, Sh’muel, to keep it in the open. You should hide it away.”

“So you have told me before, Baruch, but my answer remains the same. We may have been forced to be baptized as Christians when we came here to leave Portugal; they may force us to attend their church, and to eat pork, and to hide our observance of the Shabbat, but they cannot force me to forget Yerushalayim,” Sh’muel ben Moshe said, before placing the box back on the shelf.

“It is only a wooden box; it is not Jerusalem,” Baruch said. “It is not a good time to risk offending the Christians. With this drought and the plague, I have heard whispers; some are saying it is a judgment against the New Christians that are actually heretics.”

“If it is a judgment, perhaps it is against the people who have tried to force us to stop being Jews. Was not the promise to our father Abraham, ‘those who bless you, I will bless, and those who curse you, I will curse’?”

He turned a nervous glance towards the window. “Sh’muel, please; do not say such things aloud. Is it not enough that you will not hide this box? Do you wish to bring the wrath of the goyim on us with your words as well?”

“If the wrath of the goyim falls on us, my friend, it will be from the words of the king of Spain. Had not King Manuel wished to marry the Spanish princesses then we would not be under the Royal Edict to convert.” He gave his friend a reassuring smile. “I believe that God will send a deliverer for us if we need one, just as He did for our people in Persia.” He laughed and raised his cup of wine. “Perhaps Manuel will find his wife unpleasing, and God will place another Esther in the royal palace. You have a lovely young daughter named Esther; she could be a queen and restore us to the king’s favor!” He drained the cup and refilled both it and Baruch’s. “Drink, my friend; this is a feast of joy and the Christians do not need to know why we celebrate.”

He took a swallow and sighed, staring down into the cup. “It has been ten years since the edict. Do you really believe Manuel will relent now and allow us to be Jews?”

“I do not know what King Manuel might do, but this I do know: Im eshkachech Yerushalayim, tishkach yemeeni. If I forget you, o Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her skill. This box was made in Israel while the Temple still stood, and the stones I keep in the box are from Jerusalem. It reminds me God will restore us to our land someday.”

“Would it not serve as a reminder just as well if you kept it where only you could see it?”

“What if I hide it and then forget it? What if I hide it, and my wife and my children forget it? This box has served as a reminder of Jerusalem for my fathers for six generations now. None of them hid it away, and I will not either. If God is willing, my children will carry it joyfully into Jerusalem someday when we return to Israel.”

“From your lips to God’s ears, Sh’muel; I fear, though, that neither of us will live to see that day.”

“You may be right, Baruch, but for today we celebrate the miracles that God has done for our fathers in delivering them from our enemies.” He took another drink. The wine was not the best, but it had been all he could afford. Most of it had been drunk the night before, and it was only fitting to share what remained with his friend. “Even inferior joy is better than no joy at all.”


Teresa Lee Rainey . . . said...

Yup, I'm anxious to read more now. . .

Unknown said...

You've got my interest piqued...

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

Good beginning. Looking forward to the continuation of this story.