With a final tug, Mary tightens the stitch and cuts the thread loose. Though she is not finished yet, she holds the dress up for inspection. It is white, simple now; but once it is done, it will be beautiful, with ornate beads and lavish embroidery decorating it.

After all, a bride had to look her best on the day of her nissuin.

Anna drops into the chair beside her and picks up the dress she has been mending. She puts one stitch into it before letting it fall into her lap…before letting a sigh escape her lips.

“Children are a blessing, Mary, don’t ever forget that. But they will wear you out. Those two girls have so much energy, it is a wonder they were able to go down for a nap,” Anna says, as she closes her eyes and drops her head back.

Mary stops sewing and looks at her. She wasn’t so old, as Rachel and the other women implied; no, she was beautiful. So what if she had a few grey hairs weaving in and out of her curly black tresses? And a few wrinkles on her face – they were a testament to all she had gone through.

“Imma,” Mary says, laying her dress gently on her lap. “Why does G-d make some women barren and others fertile?”

Anna sits up. She takes a deep breath and says, “Honestly, Mary, I don’t know. Sometimes that is what he wills. And then sometimes he removes the curse so that we can fulfill our purpose.” She pauses for a moment and adds, “I thought for the longest time I would be cursed, but G-d has filled my house.”

“So some are chosen and others not…,” Mary repeats, as she pulls on a stray thread.

Anna nods her head.

“We can only abide by his will and pray for understanding,” Anna says.

Mary opens her mouth and closes it again. She doesn’t know how to ask what is in her heart.

“What is it child? Do you worry that you will not be able to give Joseph children?”

Mary shrugs her shoulders.

“I was just…thinking…of Aunt Elizabeth.”

There is no guile in her response, but she cannot speak what she is supposed to forget. The malakh. The masshiac.

Anna watches her carefully, as if trying to determine how to answer her. She finally sighs and picks up the dress and needle.

“No one deserved children more than her. But such is the will of G-d – some are chosen and some are…not,” Anna says simply and returns to the task at hand.

Mary says nothing more. Perhaps her mother was right. Perhaps she should have heeded her advice to put those things out of her mind. She was being childish, thinking that G-d would choose her. The malakh never returned and she…well, how was she to prove his words? Certainly Elizabeth would have sent word if she was in her sixth month now.

Shaking her head, Mary decides it doesn’t matter. If G-d had spoken through his messenger, his words would prove true in time. And if not, then her mother’s words would prove correct. Either way, Mary had a dress to finish.

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