I wrote this short story in December 2007, based completely on my imagination expanded from a true Bible story. What follows is NOT Biblical fact. That’s my disclaimer! 😉 Read Mark 11 or Matthew 21 for the real thing. Well…here’s a little from my imagination. Part 1 of 2.
“He’s coming! He’s coming!” gasping for breath, Alpheus pushed the door open, bent over, hands resting momentarily on his knees.
Alpheus’ tall broad stature was always recognized from afar off, but this morning his long legs could barely get him where he wanted to go fast enough.
“The King is coming! Aren’t you ready yet? Pleeeease hurry up Berni, I want a good spot!”
He paused long enough to scratch his beard and rub his sore back. Alpheus was known to all as a patient yet strong man. He was the man every girl went to for advice and friendship. Yet one girl had captivated him. Bernice.
“Oh, Alpheus, I don’t know what to wear? I’ve never met the King before,” sighed Bernice. Her hair in disarray and her robe needing some mending, Bernice ran out of the bedroom feeling desperate.
Alpheus chuckled. He went to Bernice and grabbed her hands.
“None of us have met the King! That’s why we’re so excited! We’re all in the same boat Berni, we just want a glimpse of this man everyone is calling the Messiah! You’re not the only one feeling nervous today,” his strong, calloused hand rested on her shoulder. “You…look…beautiful.”
Somehow Alpheus always knew how to make her feel better. And blush.
Closing her eyes in determination, she breathed in deeply, gathered her purple robe in her hands, and made off into the bedroom for one last look – a squeal of excitement exiting the room with her. Her nerves had suddenly transformed into sheer joy.
The small home was nothing fancy, but Bernice’s domestic flair had created a place all her friends gathered at. This particular morning it smelled of fresh baked bread and the fresh white lilies she had picked that morning.
His eyes roamed the room looking for the loaf he knew was hiding somewhere. Finding it on the counter under a cloth, Alpheus ripped off a piece – figuring his patience had earned him the pleasure.
“Did you bring something for the King?” called Bernice from the bedroom.
He swallowed quickly and confidently replied “I sure did,” and patted his shirt pocket. “My grandmother’s gold ring. That is, if we even get close enough to the King to touch Him today!”
Silence hung like last week’s laundry – an unfamiliar experience when in the presence of Bernice.
Alpheus began to tap his fingers on the tabletop. After but a few moments, curiousity got the better of him.
“So, what are you bringing Berni?”
Bernice swung around the doorway with a cheeky smile declaring, “Me!” and swung back in.
She continued, “I’ve heard this King usually prefers gifts from the heart. I thought about it, and I figured giving my heart was the best I had.”
“Well now, isn’t that the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard,” retorted Alpheus.
Finally ready to go meet the King, Bernice slipped from her bedroom with a grace Alpheus had rarely seen. His throat nearly closing in on him, he watched as Bernice did a royal bow.
“How’s that? I’ve been practising!”
“You didn’t even bump the door on your way out. Nice.”
Recovering, Alpheus reached out for his friend’s hand. “Like I said. Beautiful.”
She wrapped her arm in Alpheus’ and looked up at him with her hopeful brown eyes.
“I think He’s the One Alphy. I think He’s the One we’ve been waiting for.”
Alpheus patted her soft hand, opened the door and responded, “I think you may be right.”
They wasted no time in getting where they needed to go. The enthusiasm of the King’s coming could be felt throughout Jerusalem that morning.
Shop owners waved to strangers – everyone was family that day. The comaderie was tangible.
Shouts of “Come on, He’ll be here soon!” resounded throughout Jerusalem as people ran to the outer limits of the town, palm branches in hand.
Alpheus squeezed Bernice’s hand as they passed by the town square.
“Here, we should stop here and grab some branches. Everyone will have one and whether we have a good view or not, I won’t show up without one!” suggested Alpheus.
Pulling out his coin bag, Alpheus showed Bernice again that he was a man that would take care.
He’s just my friend though. Began Bernice’s inner dialogue. She had told herself time and time again that Alpheus was just a friend, but something seemed different about him lately. He was more….attentive. It almost made her nervous. But before she could continue the thought, she gave herself a mental shake, pushed Alpheus out of the way and began running.
“Last one there has to clean my feet!” shouted Bernice so the whole neighbourhood could hear.
It’s when she does things like that I wonder what I’d do without her. And Alpheus stirred up his own dust and followed her lead to the town limits.
“Well, this is where everyone is,” commented Alpheus, out of breath again, as soon as he had caught up.
The rustle of the palm branches created a comforting sound that day. The branches were more than just plants that day. It was a gift – an honor to the King.
Each one found their place among the crowd; they joined the hush. The reverance. The wait.
Mothers carried wee infants in their robes, and fathers held toddlers on their shoulders for a better look. Children had ceased to play and be bothersome for a few sacred moments as the families stood and awaited the arrival of their King.
Bernice looked up at Alpheus and whispered.
“Alph, I thought I was ready for this. Ready to finally see the King. And now that we’re here, I’ll be so disappointed if I don’t get more than just a glance. I want to talk to him. Tell him my story. My dreams. My admiration for Him and what He’s already done. I somehow feel so…so…I feel so hungry to talk to Him Alphy.”
“I think that’s what happens when humanity meets Divinity. We get hungry.” Alphy reached out again and drew Bernice closer to his side.
She sighed something akin to relief. “I feel so human.”
“Somehow Bernice, I think He knows your hunger too.”
A tear escaped Bernice’s eye like a fugitive; not unnoticed.
“I hope so. I’d hate for Him to come here and He not know, and feel, how much I already care.”
Does she care for me at all? Does she know how I long to tell her my love for her? Crazy Alpheus. She’d never see you for more than what you are – a good friend. Get used to it.
Bernice grabbed her branch with the intensity of a man at war, and prepared herself for her coming King……
Part 2 to come soon…
Copyright Lani Ledingham