"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

7/17/09

Friday Fiction: "Five Hundred and Fifty Animals Richer"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by Sara/Sawa at Fiction Fusion. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to fictionfusion.blogspot.com and check out the links there.
I wrote this during the homespun wisdom quarter (which, if you recall, means it's Biblical fiction - my own challenge to myself!) for the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. The topic was "A Stitch in Time Saves Nine." I definitely enjoyed telling this familiar story from a different point of view.


Five Hundred and Fifty Animals Richer

I'm sure, at the time, he thought he was taking the easy path. It was at my expense of course, but that's certainly no surprise. He's been grasping at my heel since before I can remember.

What I can tell you, however, is that it took every bit of livestock he gave me to appease my anger. Years of bitterness are not easy to remedy. I have to admit, though, that the menagerie he sent did the trick. All's good with us again - after twenty years of bad blood.

Since my brother was a child, he'd been a mama's boy. He was no lightweight, though. That deceiver tricked me into selling him my birthright for a hot meal. He was always one to try to get something for nothing.

You see, I was the hard worker in the family, and dad's favorite for sure. I'm a hands-on guy: working in the fields, hunting game, the outdoorsy type. I work hard and generally reap the rewards of my labor. Sure, I'm impulsive sometimes, but who isn't?

My brother, on the other hand, is a schemer, an "intellectual," who only works as hard as necessary, using trickery to get more than he deserves. When I lost my birthright, I was mad, but after a few weeks, I was over it. After all, I sold it to him of my own free will. I should have known to watch out for him. Anyway, it's not like he stole it from under my nose.

The blessing, though, was another story. I couldn't have stopped him if I tried. That brother of mine waited until I was doing some real work, then he cut corners, convinced Dad he was me, and stole what was rightfully mine, with the help of my mother. All I can say is Mom was wise to send him away. I probably would have strung him up if he'd as much as come near me.

Of course, if she thought I was mad when Jacob left, she was clueless how much that anger would build inside me over the years. Every time I looked at my mother, my hatred for my brother intensified. By the time Jacob's messengers arrived in Seir and told me he was on his way to see me after twenty years, murder was all I had on my mind. I gathered up 400 of my closest friends (well, my closest angry friends, anyway) and started marching his way. "Favor in my eyes,*" indeed!

Anyhow, as we marched, a servant approached us - with 220 goats! Now this was something I didn't see every day. I asked the man to whom he belonged and where he was going. He told me, and I quote, "they belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.*"

Well, who in their right mind would refuse 220 goats? So, I took them, as at least a partial payment for what that deceiver had done to me. I was still planning to tear him limb from limb, mind you - but at least I now had some livestock to show for it.

What do you know, but a few minutes later another servant showed up, this time with 220 sheep. I took those too - who can't use a nice big herd of sheep? I have to admit these gifts were softening me a bit. I might have only injured him severely if he'd shown up then.

This went on for at least an hour. Next, it was thirty camels and their young, followed by forty cows and ten bulls. That Jacob sure knew how to break down a man's anger. I was only mildly peeved (as I drank a nice cup of fresh milk). I still wanted to do that boy bodily harm, but a few slaps in the face likely would have satisfied my wrath.

It was the next delivery, however, that removed that last bit of animosity. When I saw those thirty donkeys braying and strutting toward me, I suddenly realized how ridiculous I had been acting. Here I was, a wealthy fulfilled man, fuming over a grudge twenty years old.

As Jacob and his family approached, I ran up and embraced him. All was forgiven. Like I said, those gifts did the trick.

You know what, though? If he'd just apologized sincerely and maybe made me a nice dinner all those years ago, Jacob could have been 550 animals richer today.

* Scripture references, in order: Genesis 32:5, 32:18 NIV


Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Sawa's blog for more great fiction!

5 comments:

  1. LOL! I remember this one! Still cracks me up at Esau's last lines. Great job with this!

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  2. I love this one, Jo! Poor men--they BOTH could have benefited from an apology years back!

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  3. I love this! It's great seeing how it might have been through the other guy's eyes. I always wonder. LOL, great stuff!

    Loved those last lines. Isn't that a perfect picture of how we try to earn God's forgiveness?

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  4. This was wonderful! What a great look at a very familiar Bible story. I like it a lot!

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  5. I love this, what a great retelling of one of the oldies! You do wonder as you read the old bible stories sometimes: What in the world were they thinging???

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