Better Plans Part 3

Fiction By Grace J. // 9/22/2018

The house we pulled up in front of was beautiful. The magnificent gardens placed before the large house were full of brightly colored flowers and healthy, green trees. Everything was perfectly trimmed. The house was perfect, too. With large brick walls painted white, the building portrayed orderliness, structure, and wealth.

I gaped at the house as the wagon drove around it. I had never even imagined a building so fine or large! It would cost more money than my daddy would make in his entire life to buy and furnish such a luxurious home.

We drove around to the back of the building. The man indicated that we should climb out and, uncertain, we followed him inside.

I looked around in amazement at the kitchen I found myself in. Women and girls dressed in plain clothes scurried around, baking, stirring, and chopping. A large fireplace to the right had a bubbling pot over it and a woman, who I guessed was the lead cook, was stirring some liquid inside. When the man called out, she looked up and stepped over to him.

They talked in their strange tongue for a minute and I continued to observe the room. I was rather overwhelmed, again, by all the noise and business and people. What was I doing here?

The cook called something out, and I turned quickly towards her. She was addressing two girls on the other side of the room. One of them led my fellow prisoner out of the room while the other, who looked to be about nine, walked towards the cook, wiping her hands on a cloth. They spoke quickly for a moment, and then the girl turned towards me. “Do you speak Hebrew?”

“Yes.” I felt a small wave of relief wash over me. She didn’t look unkind, and I could talk to her.

“My name is Martha. What’s yours?”

“Elizabeth.”

The cook said something to the man, and he left.

“Where am I?” I asked.

“The house of Master Naaman. He is the loyal, successful commander for the Aram king* and therefore very wealthy. He is away right now, but will return soon. You are now his servant.”

I felt tears coming to my eyes. “What do you mean?”

“You are his servant now. You have to obey him and do what he says. If you are faithful, you will be treated well enough.”

“But I don’t want to be treated well,” I said, beginning to cry again. “I don’t want to be here at all. I want to go home. Please, help me go home. I want my Mommy and Daddy.”

“You can’t go home. You belong to Master Naaman now.” Martha looked worried at my crying, yet I saw compassion in her eyes.

I shook my head. “I can’t stay here. I have to go home. Please.”

“You can’t. You have to stay here now. Perhaps if you serve Master well, he will give you your wish when you are older.”

“But I can’t wait!” The tears began to come faster. “I have to go home! I have to! I have to go home now! I want my Mommy and Daddy!” My body began to shake with sobs. The people around turned to stare at me, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with my family, with my parents and brothers and sisters and friends.

Martha looked around worriedly, wondering what to do. The cook was gone, and so was the couple that had brought me. Finally, Martha grabbed my arm and dragged me to a pantry on the left wall. Opening the door, she pulled me inside. “You must calm down!” she said. “The housekeeper will be here soon, and she can’t see you like this. You’ll get in trouble. You must stop crying.”

“I can’t,” I sobbed. “I want to go home.” I slid down a wall and sat on the ground with my knees pulled up in front of me. Martha watched me for a moment, nervously listening for the housekeeper’s return. Finally, she whispered, “If you ever want to go home, you need to please the Master, and crying during your first meeting with the housekeeper is a bad way to start.”

“But I want to go home now.”

“Look,” Martha said, “If you stop crying now, I’ll talk to you tonight about how you can go home.”

My tears began to slow as I thought about her words. “Okay,” I finally said in a shaky breath. I breathed in deeply for a moment, wiping my eyes with my dress. Then I stood up.

“Great,” Martha said in a relieved voice. She opened the door and pulled me back into the kitchen.

We weren’t a moment too soon. Just then, a door on the wall ahead of us opened and a woman walked in ahead of the girl who had been standing with Martha earlier. “Come on,” Martha said, hurrying across the room to the lady. She said something in their strange language to the housekeeper, and she answered back. Then Martha turned to me. “This is Serah,” she said. “She’s the housekeeper. She wants to know if you can cook.”

“A little,” I answered.

“Can you cut vegetables and fruit?”

“Yes.”

Martha spoke to Serah, then looked at me. “She says you and I can work together in the kitchen for a while, until you learn to speak our language. Then you will be given other duties.”

“But I won’t be here long,” I protested. Martha frowned. “Okay,” I whispered.

“Come with me. You need to bathe and put on clean clothes first.”

Martha led me outside to the servant’s quarters. There were two small buildings, one for the man and one for the women. Each contained beds for the servants, but otherwise were empty. Martha and I brought water from the well into the women's building, she gave me some soap, and I took a quick bath. Then I changed into the brown servant’s outfit she gave me and brushed my hair. Martha braided it for me so it would be out of the way and we marched back towards the kitchen.

*2 Kings 5:1

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