- Artist: Bonnie J. Gordon
- Title: Chapter One
- Genre: Audio Book
- Year: 2012
- Length: 6:40 minutes (6.1 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Miracles don’t happen anymore. They haven’t happened for years. God made some big promises, way back when. And in the beginning, He kept them all.
He made of Abraham a nation. He gave Sarah a son in her old age - even though she laughed at Him. He brought Joseph and his brothers to the land of Goshen in Egypt, saving the Israelites from starvation. The people had faith that God would always be with them.
But that was a long time ago. By now He must have forgotten all about it.
Leah’s heart felt hard as she stood in the Nile, lost in gloomy thought. It was so hot the river’s flow barely cooled her off.
“Gotcha!” laughed Leah’s twin brother Jacob as he popped out of the Nile right in front of her. He splashed her lightly in the face.
Leah scrunched up her eyes and mouth, annoyed.
“Stop being such a baby, Jacob.”
Jacob’s eyes widened. “What’d I do?”
Leah sighed deeply. She turned away from him and gazed upriver, towards Pharaoh’s white palace in the distance. The heat made it shimmer as if it were underwater.
Jacob watched her, knowing what she was thinking but waiting for her to say it out loud.
A short distance from them, knee-deep in the Nile, were some teenage Israelite girls beating white cloths with long sticks. Leah could tell by the slow way they lifted their arms that they were hot and tired. But they didn’t dare stop doing laundry to go swimming in the river. They were slaves, and there was a burly Egyptian taskmaster on the shore, his whip hanging from his belt.
Then Leah noticed something strange.
A few feet away something red and curvy seemed to be floating just under the surface of the Nile.
For an instant she thought it might be a snake. But it was too long and thick for that. And it was changing shape.
“What’s that?” she asked, pointing. Jacob turned.
“Weird,” he said when he saw what she was pointing at.
Leah began wading toward the red thing. It seemed even bigger and wider than it had been a few seconds before.
Jacob stood still for a moment, unsure of what to do. Then he went with her.
Suddenly they were surrounded by it. It was the water! The Nile was turning red!
Leah screamed. She tried to run out of the river, but the current was pulling at her arms and legs. They felt terribly heavy.
She splashed crazily. She didn’t want that red stuff touching her skin. But she only managed to get it everywhere, including her thick brown hair where it clung in globs.
Jacob quietly gazed at the red liquid, then up at Leah. The red stuff felt grainy, a little like the flour Savta, their grandmother, mixed into warm water in the early mornings when she was making bread.
He caught Leah’s eye.
As soon as she saw how calm her brother was, Leah’s panic faded.
She stopped splashing and looked at her hands under the water. Powdery stuff was drifting slowly through the river like red clouds.
“I think it’s just mud,” Jacob said.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Leah shuddered.
“Me either. We probably should get out.”
“Okay,” Leah was ashamed at having been so scared of mud.
But then she had to laugh when Jacob climbed up on the bank. He was as red as a poppy blossom from the ribcage down.
“You look like an Egyptian painting,” she giggled.
Then she remembered that she probably looked worse.
“Yeah, and you look like Set,” teased Jacob. The Egyptian god of the desert had red eyes and hair.
“Well, at least I’m a god, like Pharaoh,” Leah bragged. “Fetch my scepter, slave!”
Jacob grinned. His sister was back to her old self. He pretended to speak to someone behind him. “Fetch her scepter, Israelite!” Then he turned back to Leah and shrugged. “Oops, I’m the Israelite.”
Leah grew serious again. “But you’re not a slave yet,” she said softly.
Their birthday was coming up. In two weeks they would be 12 years old. Then they would have to join the rest of their family in the city of Pithom, just up the Nile.
Two more weeks of freedom. Two more weeks of playing in the river and running errands and helping Savta in the house. Two more weeks of lessons with Great-Uncle David, who could no longer work as a slave because of a bad knee. So he told the ancient stories and taught Israelite children the ways of their people before they, too, faced the blazing sun and the taskmasters’ whips.
Two more weeks. Then it would be their turn.
Only a miracle could save them. And miracles didn’t happen anymore. At least not as far as Leah could tell.
Jacob grimaced. “Savta’s going to be furious at us for getting our clothes so dirty.”
“Well, we can’t very well wash them in the river,” Leah grumbled. “Look.”
The Israelite slaves were yelling at the burly Egyptian, holding up the red-stained white cloths.
“There’s always the town spring,” Jacob pointed out.
Leah sighed again. One of their last days of freedom, ruined by some stupid mud.
The twins held hands as they trudged home. Red dripped behind them on the path like a trail of blood.