A few days back I received and invitation from my friend Czuch to write one half of a story. Considering that I am relatively new to writing fiction (although the desires to do so have been inside of me for as long as I can remember) it was an offer that I could not refuse. I greatly admire his writing and quite frankly was touched that I would be the one he would approach in this endeavor. Please make sure you follow up with him and check out his blog once it is posted.
The idea is to tell a story in two parts. One from the side of Jesus as a youth and one side from Joseph. It is not our intent to defame or mock or disrespect. These are just interpretations. What would these men really have been like? What ifs. No more than that.
It has been taught to me that Jesus was born a baby and died a man. Little is known of his childhood in between. If he were indeed put on this earth and lived as a boy, I have always believed that he lived as any other child had before. He ran, he played, he laughed, and sang. He wrote is name in pee in the sand. He lived. Long before a Crucifixion, he lived just as a regular boy. That he was allowed a few years of peace to himself to live as a normal human being. He was praised, he was loved, he was stubborn, and he got into trouble form time to time. Just like any other boy. Even if her were not just any other ordinary boy. This is my side of his story.
I didn't do anything wrong. I can not believe this. Grounded for two weeks! I didn't do anything wrong. I can't believe father got so mad. It wasn't even my fault. Razeal dared me. It was just water. It didn't even work this time. All it turned into was grape juice. It wasn't even good grape juice!
So, now I am stuck in my room for two weeks. Two weeks! I can't even leave the room for my birthday. No honey and figs, either. Not fair. Mother always makes honey and figs for my birthday. This is so unfair. Who does he think he is my real father?
What am I supposed to do now? He left some papyrus so I can copy the Torah. Whoopie! Said when I was done to make a list of how what I did was wrong. I wasn't wrong! Mother came in and said to forgive him. He was just scared. "It's too soon, Jesus. They can not know yet. It isn't time. Your gifts are not toys. You are not a magician, you are the son of God." I know that! I just wanted to have some fun like all the other boys. Is that so wrong? Is that not allowed? I tried to ask my real dad and he wouldn't tell me squat. If I am supposed to figure this out on my own, this life thing, couldn't somebody let me know that I am doing it right sometimes?
Day 1: I have spent the morning rubbing down the walls. I have been saving scraps of rock from the shop and have managed to get the wall next to the bed as smooth as silk. Three more to go. It would be alot easier if these rocks weren't so big and bulky. Maybe if I think really hard about it and pray, I can make them into thinner slices. Like a thick paper or something that would be easier to hold? Sandstone paper? Hey, people would probably buy that. Maybe tomorrow I can make some paint out of ground up hair and spit and watch it dry. That sounds like fun. I can watch the paint dry. Oh, joy.
Day 2: This sucks camel dung.
Day 4: The walls are done. My hands are on fire and bleeding. Now what?
Day 5: Razeal came to the window early this morning and handed me a bottle of water and laughed as he ran away. Why do I even hang out with that jerk? I need new friends. He never believes a thing I say and is constantly taunting me. Maybe later some locusts will "accidentally" fly up his tunic. I'm not going to do anything, I'm just saying. It could happen. Maybe one could fly up his butt.
Day 7: Tomorrow is my birthday. Woo hoo. I hate my birthday. Same old story year after year. Same stupid gifts year after year. What am I supposed to do with frankincense? I hate that stuff. It stinks. Myrrh gives me a rash and the gold goes straight to temple. I never get to buy anything I want. Would a new driedel be so selfish? Just a litle one, maybe with some lapis letters? Come one, my old one has a crack in it.
Still, I will smile and be thankful that King David did not chop my head off when I was a baby. I will be nice and say thank you and remember the kind inn keeper that allowed me to be born in his stable and say a blessing for him.
I will pretend that I don't see mother crying. I will pretend that I do not know what she is thinking as she peers at me and sobs.The wrinkle in her brow as she sits and thinks too hard about what is to come. But, I know she is counting down the years and wondering how many I have left. How long before I leave and never come back. I will smile and make her smile back. Make her forget, if just for a moment.
Like I am ok with it all. Like my duty, my destiny, does not scare me to death. Like I never lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Like I asked for all of this myself.
Day 9: I slept most of yesterday. Mother came in quietly and left a plate of figs and honey. On my her favorite plate. It is the one that I made for her my first week of apprenticeship. They were the sweetest I have ever tasted. There was a note from Joseph under the figs:
Have you learned anything yet?
Day 10: I have learned not to let Razeal bother me anymore. I will stop blaming him when he is an ass. I will stop being his friend. I have learned that this is all his fault.
"Go ahead, Jesus. I dare you. I bet you can't do it. You're a liar! You're just the son of a carpenter."
"You jerk! I am not a liar."
"Hah, I told you that you couldn't do it."
"Oh, yeah. You think you could do any better? The only thing you can turn water into is urine. I bet you can't even do that right."
Joseph came up right after Razeal said that thing about my mother. Right as my fists curled into knots. He has no idea how lucky he is. How close he came. I have never seethed with so much rage.
"Love, Jesus! Love your enemy," Joseph said. "You will not achieve greatness with hatred in your heart. It is not what you are here to do. Love, Jesus. Love!" Evident ally, he has never spent much time with Razeal. I know now why some animals eat their young.
Day 12: I am more bored now than I could ever imagine. I have made many drawings. Birds, fish, apples on a plate, that pretty girl from the market. In that one you can see her ankles! Mother would have a fit!
I wish I had some nails to hang them on or something sticky to smear on the back so I could tack it to the wall. Hey, sticky backed papyrus. People would buy that.
Day 13: I still mad at Razeal. I'll show him, though. I will make new friends, ten of them. No, Twelve! See who will be laughing then when he has nobody to talk to or keep him from fondling the sheep.
Day 14: Last day of solitude!!!
Man, I will be so glad to get out of this room and breath clean air and drink water fresh from the well and eat fresh bread again.
Not to mention I really need to go relieve myself. What? I've been locked in a room for 14 days. I'm not going to soil my own floor. That is disgusting.
As the door creaked open and Joseph's face peered in my anger left me. Poof! It was gone like a candle snuffed out. He came in and sat for a very long time on the chair by my bed. He sat still and silent.
I looked at him for a very long time. I had never noticed the lines in his face before. That his beard was nearly completely white. He looked so old and worried and sad.
It was that moment, that exact moment that I finally understood that he was mortal. I have lived my life with the stories of my real father, tales of eternal life, tales of what I must do for the world and for my heavenly father. I had neglected to notice my earthly one. I understood then. I saw it all right then and there. This man that sat before me was not like me. My destiny was decided for me, before I was born. He had a choice. He could have walked away and he made the choice to stay. To love me as his own and prepare me for my journey. As his son. I had never before thought of him in these ways. I had only noticed his rules, his orders, his decisions of what was best for me. I had never noticed before the fatherly love he had for me. How he must have hurt all these years seeing me grow and knowing that he could do nothing to save me from my fate. Trying to be brave and teach me when all he wanted to do was to save me and prevent me from being harmed. Knowing that the future of mankind was in his hands. Literally in his hands. The times he held me when I was hurt or sick or sad. Did her ever feel as though he had failed? Did he ever wonder if he was doing it right? All the years that I had felt the weight of the fate of the world on my shoulders, he felt that weight, too. All of all of that and more. The weight of me as well.
I began to weep as I have never wept before. With bitter shame and joy all at the same time. Why had I never seen this before? Why am I seeing it now? I grasped for breath as my body convulsed with sobbing and grief over the lessons that I had learned. I cried until all my strength was gone. I lay there flat on my stomach as what seemed like hours passed. I barely heard the creak of the chair as he rose. My strength was gone, my soul defeated. I could barely lift my head to watch as he left the room. In the chair sat the dreidel from the market.