Dumela! What a day it’s been. But it’s always a good day when I can sit down and not struggle to write and offer you the next installment of Full of Grace. Enjoy.
* * *
17 Elul (September)
Joseph kicks open the door to his workshop with his foot, his arms loaded down with wood pieces and tools. He had been called to the miller’s barn to make repairs and would have been back earlier, but the miller liked to talk, and talk, and talk. Joseph had been gracious enough to listen, but talking wasn’t in his repertoire as of lately and the whole situation was just painful.
“How did it go?”
He turns around, dropping everything on the table, so he can respond to his apprentice, Silas. He was younger than Joseph, but eager to learn the profession.
“If I was paid for listening, I would have no need to work,” Joseph sighs.
Silas lets out a chuckle.
Without another word, Joseph sets about putting his tools away, relishing the silence around him. He grabs his leather apron and ties it around his waist, before turning back around to Silas. He watches as the young man whittles away at the leg of a table he is building. Satisfied he is doing a good job, Joseph nods and returns to the chair he was working on before he was called away. They work in rhythm and silence, until Silas suddenly interrupts.
“Oh, I forgot to mention Rachel and her mother stopped by,” he says.
Joseph groans. Since Mary left, Rachel had been trying to get his attention. Now her mother was trying to match the two. He didn’t normally run away from problems, but this time, he saw no other option.
“She was quite sweet,” Silas adds, with humor in his voice.
Joseph stops working and rubs his temples. He didn’t need this.
“She’s not coming back like last time, is she?” he asks.
“I don’t believe so,” Silas replies. “But you never know with a woman in love.”
“Ugh,” Joseph mutters to himself, then adds, “I wish Mary would return.”
He picks up his knife, ready to focus on anything else but Rachel, when Silas says, “She is back.”
Joseph stops, unsure he heard Silas correctly. He gazes at the boy, who continues working, as if he said nothing.
“What did you say?”
Silas looks up at him. There is momentary confusion on his face before he replies, “I thought you knew. There was a caravan that came through earlier. She was among them.”
It takes Joseph a moment to fully comprehend that Mary, his Mary, was back. With his heart racing, he pulls his apron off and runs out of his shop. He turns back to let Silas know he would return later and rushes off to Mary’s home. It had been two months since he had last seen her and his heart ached for her. Joseph had not said the words before, but in her absence, he had come to realize he loved her. And now that she was back, he was going to tell her.
Joseph makes his way to Mary’s house, ignoring everything around him. He quickens his pace, anxious to see his betrothed. The walk seems to drag on, until he finally turns the corner and sees Mary’s house and Mary standing out front with her family, the youngest two jumping up and down in excitement. He stops when he sees her, his heart beating wildly now. Joseph can’t help but smile: she was just as beautiful as when he last saw her.
Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Joseph starts toward them, considering what he will say that will not betray his excitement. But the closer he gets, the more he realizes this is not a happy reunion he is witnessing: Anna is frowning as Heli talks in hushed tones.
Then Kyla throws her arms around Mary.
“I want to see your baby,” she cries out loudly. “Show me your baby,” Kyla repeats, running her hand over Mary’s midsection.
Joseph stops, confused, as Anna pulls her back, everyone noting his presence now.
“Joseph!” Heli says, his voice abrupt.
But Joseph doesn’t hear him – he is focused on Mary and her midsection…and her baby?