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Another big day this year: the first day of the A to Z Challenge —I’m equal parts nervous and excited! Are you taking part? If you haven’t signed up for the biggest blogfest ever yet, you could still do it today! 
As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: After the darkness..

Provided by: Peter Nenafellow writer, and blog friend.

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#atozchallenge: A for After the Darkness

#atozchallenge: A for After the Darkness

   After the darkness of his room, its absolute quiet, this seemed different to Joseph. For one, he felt the swish of air under his robe. Strong hands carried him, holding him by the arms and legs, swinging him lightly. This must be yet another dream, a message from Báʿal. He would wake up any moment.

    Reuben and Judah argued somewhere nearby.

   Joseph couldn’t make out the words his brothers spoke, but Judah seemed angry, and Reuben, pleading.

      What is it about this time, he wanted to ask, but no words came. Fabric pressed against his lips, his new beard, his soft mustache. Someone had gagged his mouth. He struggled and the men carrying him stopped, as did the voices.

       I told you to make sure he sleeps. Judah’s whisper, rough and close, grated against Joseph’s throat, his chest. Why did his brothers want to make sure he slept? They had tied him up, and now carried him in the dark. What in the name of all that’s…

      I did. Reuben’s voice cut into Joseph’s thoughts.

    Now he will know it is us. We have to get rid of him, and it’ll be all your fault.

    No, send him away. What if father finds out?

    He won’t. The old man would go so blind with crying he won’t notice a thing.

Joseph listened as the air changed around him. The incense-laden air of his home gave way to the open, the smell of hyacinths, cattle dung, stale food and jasmine in the night, and the poison of his brothers’ breaths moving back and forth as they wondered whether to strangle him, throw him in a ditch, bury him.

    Sell him, I still say. Reuben, his voice soft, but urgent.

So it was that in the darkest hour of dawn, Joseph found himself stumbling along, his feet sinking in the soft sand, his hands tied in front of him, forcing him to follow the large, awkward, but sure steps of a camel. The caravan stretched all the way to the horizon when he glimpsed it from the top of each dune and the camel dragged him up, and came sliding back down, still tied to the camel.

In the darkness, his brothers had sold him. He was now a slave. After this night of darkness, more darkness lay ahead.

But in his head, he had his thoughts. In his sleep he would have his dreams. He would still dream of high arches, the insides of lighted domes, of the house of Báʿal. His brothers could not take those away. He would escape into himself, into Báʿal, who knew and forgave each of man’s sins.

As his feet sank yet another time in the warm sand, he looked up and saw in the distance a ball of orange rise, like the dome of the house of Báʿal.

After the darkness, the darkest hour; light.

 

 

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

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