Historical Fiction Writers

‘Chena’s Story’ Chpt. 1

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      no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end


      She was only six, and yet her world was about to crumble.

      The child’s chest steadily rose and fell, her coarse sheets just barely brushing her closed lashes. Her lips turning upward, and face smooth, she dreamed of their goat and the clouds.

      All cut short as her arm was grasped, and her body jerked from her pallet.

      “Chena!” Her mother’s voice was urgent, “Get under your bed. Hurry girl!”

      Chena began crawling beneath her pallet, her mother shoving her the rest of the way. A mass of straw, old rags, and creepy crawlies followed her less than a second later. “Stay here Little Bee. Lay flat, and under no circumstances; no matter what you hear, do not move or make a sound.” Her mother then let the mattress fall over her daughter.

      The pad got heavier and heavier on the child’s back.

      Chena sucked in quick, dusty breathes, eyes wide in the darkness. Screams and crashes vibrated through the floor. Tears rolled down her soft cheeks as the little girl heard her mother’s sobs just cubits away. The little girl sucked in gulping breaths. Straw flew into her throat, and Chena muffled her coughs in dirty rags.

      G-d help us! She screamed in her mind as sweat plastered her dark hair to her neck.

      There were more crashes, more tremors. The Roman dogs were there. Chena knew it as much as she could tell bugs shared the hiding place with her.

      Her ears tingled, chest tight. Father was begging someone. His diplomatic voice despairing, and frantic as he spoke in broken Greek. “Merenda, sir, please beg you, no, no hurt wife!? She, she with,” those were the last words Chena heard her father speak.

      Chena bit her tongue to keep from joining in the resounding screech her mother let shake the night. Had they hurt her mommy? Daddy, Levi, or Malachi? What would happen to Ruth or Naamah?

      Please G-d? She quaked, crying more, and more. Crashes resounded close enough to touch,  Jehovah will they burn our home? Will they make us all slaves? Will they burn mommy, or poppy? Are brothers safe?

      Chena hugged the dusty ground, trembling, and finding it hard to breathe under the weight, and with the baked air. Tears ran from her eyes like hot springs. Then she froze.

      Chena heard the small doll mama, and papa had given her last Sukkot smash. The baskets, mending, rags, and jars covering Chena’s pallet were chucked aside. Then the mattress was flung up. Cool air flooded the child’s face. Chena jumped. Eyes wide as plates. Her lips parted to scream but Fear clutched her throat so tight it cut off her air.

      She clenched her eyes, Oh, L-rd Jehovah? I love You! Help us! Help Your children!? Please?…

      The strips of rags, and hay laying beside her were lifted and sifted through. The man grunted, and one large foot stomped beside her head, shuffling through the mess. Chena’s eyes popped open. Three inch spikes glaring at her.

      Couldn’t he see her? Why hadn’t his foot crushed her face yet?

      The soldier abandoned the pile of filth which had been stuffed under Chena’s mat. When he stepped away several other men came to the pile of debris and searched as well.

      The cur of Rome! More tears snaked down Chena’s cheeks. She kept her small hands cupped over her mouth as she watched the scum move about as if she were invisible.

      Her papa was just a simple farmer?  He wasn’t outspoken. Chena loved him, and trusted him. Why would anyone want to hurt him?

      The uncircumcised Gentiles needed no reason. The child answered her own bitter question.

      What if her parents hadn’t paid their taxes? What if they were going to murder them all?

      The men, casting glances over their shoulders, drifted from her one-roomed her home, their sounds fading like shadows under a noon-sun.

      All the marauders were outside. A growing amount of curses and her mother’s screams made Chena shiver.

      Get out. The words beat inside her brain and chest. Run now! Leave! Hurry! Get up and flee!

      “But what if they kill me?” she whispered in a blub.

      More curses railed outside their mud house.

      She didn’t wait for the whisper to come again, Chena just obeyed. She got up from the bower, legs working like blocks of wood beneath her as she scampered to her feet. The room was silent now, and dark outside. Aside that is, from the glow of torches, and obscenities in the side yard.

      Had they found her brothers? Or had G-d spared them as well? What of her mommy, and daddy? All thoughts went through her mind in less time it took to blink.

      Then one question was answered as something splashed, sticky and wet, onto her foot and leg. Chena may have screamed, she may have not. She could never recall, but in any case none of the men came back to get her.

      Her daddy was sprawled over the threshold. His stomach had been cut open, dirt and blood covering the floor.

      Her forehead wrinkled, eyes wide, trembling hands clapping to her face as she stared at her daddy. Then she cried. Muttering words she could never remember, the girl knelt beside him. Her smooth knees leaning into the pool of blood as she cupped her father’s stricken cheeks in her small palms. His dark eyes stared up at her unseeing. Forever frozen in pain.

      “Papa…?” She whispered, “Papa?” Her face twisted, and her whole body quaked in pain, “Oh Papa!”

      Then Malachi was there, lifting, then shoving her in course whispers to run into the tall grass surrounding the property; to wait there for him. When she couldn’t move Malachi spanked her hard, “Go girl!”

      and she ran. She ran, and ran.

      At some point she fell down, and couldn’t rise. She sobbed, pushing her face into the dirt. Blades of grass surrounding her, surrounding her like walls in all directions. Her father’s image haunting her un-blemished mind. She convulsed, wishing her mother’s arms were around her. Or even Malachi’s. She didn’t know when, but finally no more tears would come, so she lay a time hiccuping,  shivering for more than the early winter cold.

      Malachi didn’t come.

      Using her arm as a pillow, Chena’s drained heart fell into a besieged dream.

      Truly only Hashem could save His people.


      Passion means to be willing to suffer.

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