The story of Mary continues. Last we left her, she was feeling down because of her situation. Her aunt encouraged her to write a letter home. Today Anna receives it.
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Anna balances the jug on her hip, as Kyla and Oprah run ahead of her. Getting water from the well often proved challenging, as the girls either ran off or got into a fight, causing her to momentarily abandon her task to deal with them. Today isn’t so bad, though, and Anna is thankful.
Oprah runs ahead, leaving Kyla behind her. The younger girl tries to keep up, but her little legs can only carry her so far. She stops and turns back to her mother with tears in her eyes. Anna is glad for a break and sets the jar down. She offers her arms to the youngster and picks her up. Kyla wraps her arms her. Anna feels the wet, warm tears trickle down her neck and can’t help but feel hurt for her.
“Did Oprah leave you all alone?”
Kyla nods her head.
Anna rubs her daughter’s back, remembering when she was the younger sister, running after Elizabeth the way Kyla ran after Oprah. The cycle never ended, it seemed.
She turns Kyla’s face to hers, peering into her teary, black eyes.
“Let’s get home before your abba and achichem get there and you can help me make sweet bread.”
Kyla’s face brightens up just momentarily, before she asks, “And not Oprah?”
“This time it will be just you and me, okay?”
“Okay,” Kyla agrees and wipes her face with the back of her hand. Anna sets her down on her feet and picks up the water jar. They begin walking back, keeping a steady pace until they reach the house. Anna stops when she sees Oprah standing there, her gaze fixed on the stranger waiting at their door. Still several feet from him, Anna sets the jar down beside Oprah, quietly instructing her to watch her sister, and approaches cautiously. Going by his dress, he appears not to be Roman, but that was not always the case. Anna clears her throat to get his attention. He turns towards her and smiles. He has a kind face. Anna doesn’t recognize him but is calmed by his disposition.
“I am looking for Anna, wife of Heli ben Matthat,” he says simply.
“I am she.”
He pulls a letter from his cloak and hands it to her.
“Elizabeth asked me to get it to you since I was passing through Nazareth.”
Anna looks down at the letter. Even without opening it, she knows it’s from Mary, asking to come home. This wasn’t possible though. For her sake they sent her away and if Mary was safe in Hebron, then she would stay there until the danger passed.
“Shalom,” the stranger says, turning to leave.
Anna breaks away from her thoughts.
“Forgive me; I am not being very hospitable. Can I get water for your animal? For you?”
He shakes his head.
“I am just passing through.”
“How is Elizabeth?”
“She is well.”
“Thank you…for bringing this.”
“Shalom,” she reiterates as the stranger leaves, her gaze following after him. Oprah and Kyla approach her and take her hands.