I have been editing and writing. Writing and editing. Next week I’ll be participating for the first time at LitCrawl, a kind of pub crawl where we take literature to the streets. I’ll be reading from my new manuscript about the Nicaraguan Revolution, and with my Writing Co-op. It is a dream come true to read at this event, so to celebrate I thought it would be fun to share a few paragraphs about Judith, since I haven’t yet shared anything publicly from the Bride of Bethulia. My agent warned me not to give anything away, but this is from a scene that has been cut, so no spoilers. I’d love to hear from you!
On our goat hair mattress in the early dawn I rested one hand on my aching belly and felt the sticky blood on the fingers of my other hand. I knew I should rise to find a rag, but I wanted to savor the moment of change. I had plans for my womanhood. I would be expected to leave this house soon and have children of my own. I would have many. For, although I could not weave like Raisa, I was of strong build. And I was good with the little ones. I often entertained them in the courtyard so my aunties could finish their chores.
A fine man would choose me and my parents would be proud of so many grandchildren. I would bring my sister to help me and she would be happy again, like the old Raisa. She had stopped talking with me about our future together. She had mostly stopped talking with me at all. But maybe now things could change. We would live in Jerusalem where there were not so many rules. Where a woman could study and engage in trade. Where we could live in a solid house that did not need a new roof after every rainy season. Where there was entertainment other than watching the antics of baby goats.
Although, I would miss the baby goats.
But I knew my plans were tenuous. What if the Seleucid soldiers appeared again on my wedding night, horses stomping on the packed clay of our courtyard? I was overwhelmed once again by the rancid smell of horses sweat, as though I couldn’t wash the scent from my skin.
If I did marry, I would take my sister with me, so that we could be friends again.
Raisa’s breath was sweet. With her eyes still closed, she rolled over and rested her hand on mine, on my belly. Her fingers were rough from weaving. “Has your time come?” she mumbled.
“How did you know?” She always knew what I was thinking.
I hoped she would speak, and we could talk like we used to. I pleaded silently for another moment with my sister.
She pushed me off the mattress onto the cold dirt floor.