Swale by PavellKiD
The night she read aloud the story of Dinah and the Shechemites, looking up at me after each dramatic part of the parable.
“Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her.”
She paused to glare at me.
The story continued. Shechem wanted to marry Dinah. Dinah’s brothers lied and said he could, before slaughtering and looting the whole town and bringing back its women and children as prisoners. Then Dinah’s father, Jacob, was furious with his sons because Shechem’s people had a bigger army.
“So you see,” Mother says, “all the trouble that she caused, just by wanting to be friends with the wrong people.”
What had always seemed like love, her wanting to protect me, now sounded ridiculous. We had a tablet or two that we kept for writing letters and for schoolwork. That night I sat down and rewrote the story of Dinah, so that Dinah runs a spear through Shechem before he gets the chance to touch her, and the girls she went to visit said he had always been a bully and a rapist.
The next morning, Laurel had already been sent home on her own. I took a pack with a cup and some dried fruit and nuts and slipped through the gates before anyone could miss me, to see if I could catch up to her. The morning fog was still heavy on the hills, and I had forgotten my purple triangle.
I guess you could say I grew up backward. Although, I read all the old, beat-up books in the commissary. I mean all of them. I was at the top of my class, which isn’t saying much. Mostly I just walked and played in the woods, alone, drinking out of clear streams that came from springs inside the mountain. The sanctuary was surrounded by a gate made from rusty aluminum panels, lined with barbed wire on the outside, which ran haphazardly between twenty-foot wooden poles driven deep into the ground.
“ Our great Father, you see, guided the first elders to protect us,” one of the current elders said at our thrice-weekly assembly of the congregation.
We sat in chairs scattered around the inner yard under a red cloth covering, that stretched from one side of the gate to the other. When the sun shone through, it looked like everyone had been dipped in the blood of the Lamb. Children sat with their parents, so as not to be a distraction, and everyone shared between them the five Bibles that had been salvaged from the End Times, that the community was very proud of. You could check them out of the Commissary, and it was from this book I learned that good and evil were very mixed up together. The great warrior kings, ordained by God, seemed to pillage and slaughter randomly whenever they felt like it, and it wasn’t quite clear why God had chosen them over their enemies. Sunday’s were the worst. I had to wriggle on the hard chair for two hours on that day.