Posted by: JennyRain | September 23, 2007

A Well of Water: Part III

Part III in a series
A Well of Water: Part I

 

 

The Courage to Return

Hagar made the long journey back to Sarai and Abram. Upon her return, Hagar fell at Sarai’s feet in tears.

 

“Mistress forgive me, I shall not seek to leave your side again,” said Hagar in hiccup-broken sentences, “I am here to serve you for as long as you should like.”

 

Sarai’s face remained frozen in a half-smile and her eyes grazed the back of Hagar’s neck before turning to side-swat the oxen and return to her chores. Abram beamed as his arms cradled Hagar’s to lift her. He nodded in silent approval before rushing to Sarai’s side. Loping his arm gently under Sarai’s elbow Abram leaned over to whisper something into her ear. Sarai straightened and continued walking.

 

When Ishmael was born, the family enjoyed a brief respite of peace. Sarai seemed to enjoy her status as a mother, and Hagar enjoyed caring for her young son with the wild eyes. The two women shared stolen moments with Ishmael, but it was mostly Abram who flooded Ishmael’s world with his presence. At times Ishmael would affix himself in a blink-less-stare at Abram and stop breathing, as if to indicate he was overwhelmed and over stimulated. More than once Hagar rushed into the tent to find a frantic Abram bellowing “He is purple! He is purple! Why is he purple!?”

 

 
Hagar gently patting Ishmael on the back until he began breathing again and soothed Abram by touching his forearm. After Sarai witnessed a few of these episodes, she found reasons to avoid Ishmael. Late at night, usually following one of the purple-face-trials, Hagar would overhear Abram and Sarai in heated discussions that typically ended with Abram’s disappearance for a few days.

 

 
Even at a young age, Ishmael held the family’s attention and concern.

 

“Shhsh.” Hagar placed her finger on her lips and grabbed Ishmael by the nape of the neck. He was rushing around the bull weeds with his mock bow shooting at the imaginary lioness. Even at two-years of age he was able to almost clear the weeds with his leaps. Though Hagar was proud of his prowess, she found it increasingly difficult to keep him quiet. The more Hagar attempted to keep Ishmael hidden, the more he seemed to demand being seen.

 

Crash! “Keep that child away from my new pottery!” Screamed Sarai, holding shards of her cooking pot. She looked directly over Ishmael’s head at Hagar, demanding a response. Hagar shuttled Ishmael into the bushes after a submissive nod to her mistress. She was not sure if her son was clumsy or brazen, but she began noticing him challenging Sarai with frequent stares.

 

The Promised Child

 

When Isaac was born, the child promised to Abram and Sarai, now Abraham and Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael seemed to disappear into the background. The family bustled around Isaac daily and catered to his every need. Abraham and Isaac would daily tend to the chores and then throw Isaac onto his shoulders as they walked out into the fields or up into the distant mountain.

 

Ishmael was forgotten and often left alone.

 

“Mama, does Abu not love me?” queried Ishmael one night. He looked into Hagar’s eyes so longingly she thought she could almost touch his empty heart. How could she answer her son? She wondered. Tell him he was a mistake? Tell him he was not supposed to be born? Tell him, that as a result of one night where heart and passion led, and reason took a back seat, that they had birthed Ishmael?

 

Hagar reached out and pulled Ishmael to her side. He laid his head onto her breast as she stroked his hair. Glancing out of the tent, they saw Sarah standing outside staring at the mountain in the distance. Sarah drew her wrap around her and shivered in the cold, waiting.

 

Making the break

 

On the day of the feast, Hagar was busy with meal preparations when she heard a loud “thwack-thwack!” followed by a scream. She rushed to the cooking pit and found Ishmael with a large cattle-poke clasped above his head and Isaac developing angry red welts on his upper-left leg. Sarah ran straight to Isaac and scooped him into her arms, her veil having removed itself during her earlier sprint.

 

“You will not stay here! You and your son! You must leave!” Sarah spat at Hagar, cradling Isaac in her arms as he continued sobbing. Abraham arrived and gingerly unwrapped Ishmael’s fingers from the cattle-poke and Sarah hammered at him, still holding Isaac “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac!” Sarah wrapped Isaac’s head with her hand and drew it down to her shoulder as his legs entwined her waist tightly. “Now!” She said before huffing away.

 

Abraham touched Hagar’s shoulder gently before walking toward the mountain. She noticed that Abraham’s shoulders heaved and shook and his head remained fixed on the ground. Hagar and Ishmael watched Abraham walk until he was no longer visible… their fate seemed to be in his hands.

 

Remembering the well

 

Hagar could no longer hear Ishmael under the bush, though he was only a bow-shot away. She began rubbing her shaking hands in the hot sand furiously, as if to cleanse them. They had long since run out of water. The more she scrubbed, the more her hands began to shake. The trembling seemed to seep through her hands, up her arms, and throughout her body until erupting from her lips in a cascading scream. It was the forlorn sob of a mother barren of hope, and bereft of her only child.

“Why! Why God! He is my only son!” Hagar flailed at the sky as if to punctuate each wail, “He is all I will ever have and I cannot bear to watch him die!” Her hands grabbed at the sand as if it were alive and could stabilize the emotional waves that pounded at her. Why would God give me a child only to then take him away? She thought.

 

“Whyyy?” she sucked in air through her teeth and wiped her face. The handful of sand stuck to the side of her face, wet from tears. “Why, God. Why?” her voice trailed off and she glanced up at the glaring sun for her answer. She heard only silence.

 

She awoke to the sound of a voice she had heard before. Rubbing her eyes with the back of her fingers, she raised herself and stared out at the darkness. Her eyes adjusted to the blackness and shapes and forms began to appear all around her. A light rustle startled her and she scampered sideways, crashing into something hard and lumpy. Just then a breeze lifted her veil from her head, and as she turned to follow its trail, her eyes settled upon Him, the one she had seen before.

 

“What is the matter, Hagar?” said the angel gently as he reached out to touch her face. He studied her with a toe-tingling intensity. Her breath caught and her heart fluttered. She was unable to speak.

 

“Do not be afraid,” the angel continued, “God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Her heart opened and something like scales fell from her eyes. The corner of her veil caught her attention and drew her focus to the left. Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.

 

“The well! Beer Lahai Roi… He is here! He has seen!” thought Hagar. She pushed herself up from her knees and began making her way to the well when she heard Ishmael cry out to her.

 

“hic – hic – Mama!”

 

Hagar filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink.
 
All writings copyrighted by author 9.23.2007 (c)
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