Full of Grace (10)

Anna glares at her oldest child, trying to process what she said. Mary had been acting different the last few days, really, the last month since she said she met the malakh, but this…this was not her child.

“What did you say?”

Mary doesn’t raise her head, but continues her downward gaze.

“Mary,” Anna warns.

Quietly, her daughter replies, “Thank you for choosing me to be the mother of your mashiac.”

Anna takes in a deep breath. She had hoped their last conversation was the end of the matter, but apparently it wasn’t. She turns to Oprah and Kyla.

“Girls, go and wait for me in your room.”

Oprah stands, but Kyla objects, “I’m hungry.”

Normally amused by the child’s appetite, Anna only sighs this time. She gets up and escorts the girls to their room.

“Shortly. Just go for now.”

The girls obey. Anna turns back to Mary, who has not raised her head.

“Look at me,” she says.

Mary meets her eyes. Anna sees no defiance, only hesitation…and a little determination.

“I know…,” Anna begins, softening her tone. “I know you want to believe you saw a malakh…”

Mary interrupts.

“I did,” she insists.

“Why would G-d send a malakh to you? Why would he choose you?”

She watches as Mary’s shoulders slump and she rests her sight on her lap.

“Be practical, Mary. It is admirable that you desire to serve G-d as you do, but this…this is a death sentence. You need to let this go and never speak of it again.”

Mary picks at a loose thread on her sleeve, but says nothing.

“It is settled then,” Anna states, ready to call her girls over, until Mary says, “I am with child.”

Mary’s words are so abrupt, they are like a knife tearing into Anna’s heart. Unwilling to believe she has heard correctly, Anna exclaims, “What?”

Her daughter looks up. The determination is gone from her eyes, replaced with fear.

“I am with child,” she repeats, her voice so low Anna has to strain to hear her.

Stunned, Anna drops into the chair across from Mary. She looks at her daughter, her long dark hair, her piercing black eyes, her beautiful olive skin. Anna recalls the joy and the hope she felt when she first held her. Now they were being torn from her.

“My cycle is late,” Mary adds.

Grasping for hope, Anna says, “Well, it’s that simple – you’re just late.”

Mary shakes her head.

“No.”

“So then you…and Joseph…,” Anna begins but she can’t finish, nor does Mary allow her to.

“No! No. Joseph and I haven’t…” – Mary shakes her head, upset – “We have not been intimate.”

“Then you and another boy?”

“No! I told you. The malakh said I would bear the mashaic. I would become pregnant by the Holy One.”

“No. That is impossible,” Anna insists, raising her voice. Anna stands up and walks over to her work table. She leans on it for support, before turning back to Mary. “That is impossible.”

Mary shakes her head, tears streaming down her face, her lips trembling. Anna wants to pull her into her arms, to comfort her, wipe her tears, erase everything that had been said – but she can’t. Between the fear creeping up on her and the anger that Mary would do something like this, Anna is stuck. She’s frozen where she stands.

“Mary, tell me the truth,” she says with a steady voice. “Who is the father? Who are you protecting? Were you not happy with Joseph? Was he not agreeable to you?”

Mary says nothing, wiping her tears.

“Mary.”

“I told you – this child is of G-d. I have been with no man.”

Anna hears the conviction in her voice and knows Mary is not lying; she was not a liar. But pregnant by G-d? It wasn’t possible. It just wasn’t possible.

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