As promised, I was able to complete the next part of Full of Grace. Despite my schedule, I hope to get a couple more posts this weekend. Look for those and thanks again for stopping by.
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“Are you going to eat?”
Joseph snaps out of his thoughts and looks at the bowl in front of him – barley soup. It was his favorite, yet tonight, he had no stomach for it.
“I’m not very hungry,” he admits to his mother.
“How can you not be hungry? You worked all day at the shop,” Miriam exclaims. She stands over him, her tone biting. Joseph feels like a boy again, instead of like the man of the house. “It’s that girl, isn’t it? I told you courting her was a mistake. She…”
“No, Imma,” he interrupts, mostly out of habit, though he isn’t ready to confess his lack of appetite is about ‘that girl’. “It was a long day. I appreciate the meal, but I think I will just turn in.”
He rises, hoping she will let the subject drop, but she doesn’t.
“I worry about you,” Miriam says, the edge gone from her voice. “You work too hard. And with Mary leaving and returning and the rumors I hear – is she really a wise choice for a wife?”
He had argued this point with her many times before, always defending Mary. And it wasn’t that Miriam had anything against Mary specifically – no one was good enough for Joseph – but now with eveything that happened, it seemed her concerns had been valid all along. Mary had betrayed him, then lied about it. He was under no obligation to marry her, much less defend her.
He leans down and kisses his mother on the cheek.
“You don’t have to worry about that anymore. There won’t be a wedding,” he says and leaves Miriam at the table. She calls him back, demanding clarification, but he simply heads up the stairs and closes the door to his room so he cannot hear her. With a long, hard sigh, he lies down on the bed and stares up at the ceiling.
There would be no wedding – he finally understands that. But there was still Mary: what was he to do about her? Bring her before the priest on charges of adultery? Certainly it was in his right, but it would be a death sentence for her. As soon as the verdict was read, she would be taken out to a field and he would be given the first stone…the first stone, as the offended party. But as offended as he was, there was no way he could lobby a rock at her to strike her, hurt her, kill her. He had grown to love her, desire her, want to protect her. Regardless of what she had done, he could not and would not do that to her. He would just have to give her a writ of divorce, annul the engagement and let her go away quietly somewhere to have her bastard child.
The words pain him, even as he thinks them. But it could be no other way. If he couldn’t trust Mary now, how was he to do so if they wed? No, he would speak to a priest in the morning and let Mary go her way.
Joseph is glad for the decision. The matter had been weighing heavy on him for days, but now that it was settled, he could rest. He closes his eyes and waits for sleep to take him, all the while, ignoring the nagging voice calling his name in the darkness of the room.