After 2162 BC, Ur of the Chaldeans. Kairos 51: Rebecca
Leah lifted her jug of water carefully to her shoulder. She had a fair walk from the central fountain to the hovel her family called home. Once the jug was in place, she lifted her eyes to the fine houses around the square. It irked her how the Kaldu used her people. They made her people move into settlements, which was unnatural, and her people had to help plant and harvest the community fields even as they tried to keep the herds fed on the stubble from the grain. She started to walk, but stopped when a young man got in front of her.
Leah puffed at the strand of hair that fell from her bun. She wiped at her cheek with her free hand. “Your eyes must be broken,” she said. She knew she was filthy and looked a wreck.
“I see only the perfect form and figure. No clay master could shape such beauty. And I see eyes that hold the promise of depth, untold.”
Leah laughed, but only a little. “Nebo, I think you have finally lost all sense. Now go away before your madness starts to frighten me.”
Nebo shook his head. “Your Aramean blood, I consider a small thing. We both have hearts that pump and dream the same dreams. I believe your heart must have been fashioned by Astarte herself, because you have spirited my heart away so that you are all I dream about, day and night.”
“I am sure Astarte has better things to do than worry about an unbeliever’s heart,” Leah said and scoffed.
“Then, by your one god without a name—”
“—Leah. Sari is up to her arms in flour. Your sister can’t wait forever for that water.”
“Yes mother,” Leah said. Leah and Nebo watched the woman come into the square on some other errand, and both young people looked embarrassed, like they had been caught at something.
“Nebo. I thought your mother told you she did not want you to hang around with that Aramean girl.”
“She did, mother,” Leah said as she pushed passed the young man and started toward home.
“I will see you later,” Nebo said after her. “Lady,” he bowed to Leah’s mother and turned to run, but had to stop in mid stride. Beasts, the biggest donkeys Nebo ever saw, came lumbering into the square. There were people, strange looking in all shapes and colors, riding on the backs of the beasts, talking to each other as they rode. They stopped in the middle of everything so no one could move across the square.
“Excuse me,” one of the strangers leaned down and pointed at Nebo. “What is the name of this town?” It was a woman who asked. She had yellow hair, and she did not appear to have many clothes on. Nebo stared for a second before he screamed and ran off. Most of the rest of the people in the central market square just stared.
Leah’s mother stepped up and shook her finger at the strangers. “You just frightened off my future son-in-law, if my daughter Leah ever makes up her mind and says yes. You should be ashamed of yourselves.” The people got down from their horses, and Katie, the blonde, apologized.
Leah’s mother, a middle aged woman who in that age would be old enough to be considered old, frowned her best motherly frown. “I would hate to see Nebo have a heart attack before the wedding. Leah’s younger sister already wants to get married, but tradition says the older sister has to marry first.”
“Our apologies,” the giant said. It was Lockhart, but then, he would appear as a bit of a giant up until the middle ages.
“Not to worry,” Leah’s mother said. “And to answer your question, this place is Ur-Baal, normally called just Ur, home to the lost and the dregs of the universe.”
Lincoln came forward, the database in his hand, and Leah’s mother walked over to Katie and touched her shirt. “We are looking for a woman named Rebecca,” Lincoln said.
Katie’s sleeveless shirt and shorts transformed into a plain smock dress, much to everyone’s surprise. Leah’s mother went on to touch Lockhart, Lincoln and Alexis, so they became dressed in dresses of one sort or another. “I am Rebecca,” Leah’s mom admitted, “And I have mentioned that at a certain point, you need to start being aware of things like your dress and deportment so you don’t cause earthquakes in the local culture.”
“I don’t wear a dress,” Decker said.
“You’re African. We can stretch things a bit,” Rebecca answered and touched him. He ended up with baggy pants that looked dress-like, and a shirt that hung almost to his knees and was tied around the waist with his belt.
Rebecca turned to see Mingus, Boston, and Elder Stow already changed their own clothing. Boston stared at her and started nibbling her nails. “Okay,” Rebecca said, and opened her arms. “Boston!” Boston flew into the hug.
“Dregs of the universe?” Lincoln asked, not liking the sound of that.
“Come with me,” Rebecca said. “Walk your horses and try not to cause any more stir than you already have. They started down the road, but shortly a company of fifteen soldier-like men in short skirts and carrying spears caught up with them.
“Woman,” the head man spoke. “What new trouble have you brought on us?”
Rebecca did not even slow in her walk, so the travelers kept up, though they could not avoid the wonder in the eyes of the men who surrounded them. One paced Decker, the black skinned giant, and looked up at him as much as at his horse. Decker had to tell the man to shut his mouth. He was beginning to drool.
“No trouble, I hope,” Rebecca said, honestly. “Although there are some serious creatures and demons chasing these poor good people. Two of them, the women with the yellow hair and red hair, might help me get the Blob ship ready quicker, so at worst there will be trade-offs.”
The head man pitched a fit in the road. “Woman. You drive me crazy.” He did not want to hear about creatures and demons.
Rebecca stopped in front of a run-down shack. “You already are crazy,” she said. “Besides, you promised you would send men to fix my roof. I don’t see any work being done.”
“We can help,” Lockhart volunteered.
“When? In the rainy season? Typical man. Put the roof off until it rains.” Rebecca huffed at him. “Wait here,” she said. He huffed back at her and called his men to wait in the street.
“So—.” Boston started to speak and almost rubbed her hands as they walked to the door.
“Don’t go there,” Rebecca responded. “My husband is gone, and I like Tel-Aram well enough, but that would endanger things that I have no desire to endanger.” She stepped into the two room hovel and shouted. “Sari!”
The young woman and the young man quickly separated, but it was obvious they were kissing and having a good time. The young man was covered in the same flour that Sari had all over her apron and hands. Leah came in the back door.
“I told them to stop, but they never listen to me.”
“Easy for you,” Sari raised her voice out of her embarrassment. “You don’t want to marry, just to make me suffer.”
“The thought of marriage makes me suffer.”
“All right. Take a rest,” Rebecca said. “Abram, would you go to the tinsmith and tell him I will be by for the casing in the morning?”
“Yes. Sure. Of course,” the young man said, and exited quickly, apparently unfazed by the beasts and the strangers.
“Abram and Sari?” Katie asked.
“Yes, and shut your mouth.”
“Blob?” Lincoln asked. Rebecca was going to have to explain that one.