Weekend Wind Down – Hepzibah’s Deposition (Part Two)

I musta winced, because his eyes suddenly grew piercing. I felt like I was falling into their blackness as he stared but I weren’t scared. Much. Then he shook his head.
“I see,” he said and his voice was dry and rasping, like Pa when he talked to Brother Abram.
I thought he did see. Matter of fact I thought he saw too durned much, but I kep’ my mouth shut and waited.
“What do you see Uriel?”
“I will show you my brothers.”
He holds out his hands and all three kinda flows together into a waving tentacled creature what made me think of a picture of a octopus on the schoolroom wall.
Me and Eli was as quiet as mice – we dursen’t barely breathe. Thankfully it weren’t long before the bright ones separated back into three.
“Such wickedness.” The smallest one sounded shocked and mighty cross.
“Wickedness indeed, Jegudiel, but what can we do about it.”
Uriel laughed, and I thought I’d know that laugh any time anywhere. “We could interfere,” he said.
“But that’s forbidden.” By now I was about sure this was the one what had walked through my head, and I wondered what he might be called.
“Since when has that stopped us, Selaphel?”
Selaphel grunted. “Since never. But what do you propose?”
The three on them went into a huddle over the bleeping machine and I looked at Eli.
“You got any idea what wickedness they’m on about?”
He went as red as one of Ma’s tomatoes. “Maybe Brother Abram,” he whispered.
“What. Him wantin’ to take me as his third wife?”
Eli grabbed my shoulders so hard it hurt. “You ain’t supposed to know about that.”
“I don’t guess I am. But Ma thought I oughter know in case I gotta cut and run.”
“Shouldn’t come to that. Scripture don’t say a man can have three wives.”
I looked at him and decided he should hear the truth. “It don’t, but Brother Abram’s first wife has a cancer in her breast. She don’t have long. Then there will be a vacancy.”
I never heard my brother swear afore, but he swore then long and hard. “Do Pa know?”
“He do now, I spect. Me and Ma only found out at Woman’s Church this morning.”
“But Brother Abram is past sixty and you…”
“I’m fifteen.”
“It just don’t seem right.”
“Not to me neither. Not right at all.”
“Nor to us.” It was Uriel. “Not any way at all. So we propose a little game. Are you brave enough?”
Eli spoke right out brave and true. “If it keeps that man’s filthy hands offen Hepsie, I reckon I can be.”
Uriel turned his face to me and I nodded. “I gotta be brave. Or else I gotta run. Brave’ll be better.”
“Very well then. Do you trust us?”
“We have to.” That was Eli. “We got no option.”
“And you, Hepzibah?”
I answered him honest, knowing in my heart that it would do me no good to try and lie.
“Right now, I don’t even trust my own eyes. But I believe you mean us no harm.”
The three flowed together again, only this time they looked like water moving in the spring floods, or maybe snow blowing up the valley in winter. When they returned to their angel forms, Jegudiel spoke inside my head.
“See, little one, we can be anything you want us to be. Anywhere you want us to be.”
I didn’t see at all, but I nodded my head anyway.
The ‘little game’ was a long time in the planning and I was too tired to take much notice. Instead I sat and stared at my dirty feet on the white softness of the bed and felt small and very lonely. In the end Selaphel come across and laid a cool hand in my head.
“Sleep,” he said.
I slept and dreamed of machines running over me and the small sting of a needle in my leg. I remember crying in my dream and Eli coming to hold my hand.
“Hush Hepsie. Soon be over.”
When I woke up fully I saw something had happened to Eli and I shivered.
“What they done to you?”
He grinned and stroked the black beard that now covered his chest.
“They just aged me a bit. You too.”
I looked down my body to realise that I had gotten a whole heap more curves as I slept.
“It’s gonna burn Brother Abram something terrible not to get his hands on this,” I said.
“That’s the plan. You ready to go home and tell them we bin took by angels?”
“I am.”
He took ahold of my hand and moved me to the middle of the floor. The three-in-one dipped the heads they currently wore and Uriel lifted his hand in a kind of a blessing. The floor under our feet opened and I felt sure we would fall to our deaths, but instead we drifted gently to the ground in a blaze of yellow light. All around us was the brassy sound of trumpets and for a minute I could have swore I seen a hundred angels around us with their voices raised in praise.
I never been so glad of anything in my life as Eli’s strong hand when we stood on the grass outside The Temple. People come running from every direction and fell to the floor in praise and fear. Eli held up a hand and spoke slow and deep.
“We have spoken with the Angels of the Lord,” he said.
I never said nothing. Never had to. It was easier to leave the lies to Eli. He seemed to be mighty good at it.
They called him The Son of The Prophet and his word was law, but he went ahead twenty years back and his son now runs things.
Me? I married the lad I always hankered after and give him eleven strong sons.
Now I’m nearing the end of my days I see Uriel and his brothers most nights as they swim through the heavens with their long tentacles touching the stars. I still wonder what they really are.
That’s all I got to say, so now I will put down my pen and decide how I should seal my deposition. But that’s foolish, inside me I know what to do. I seen it one time in the courthouse. I’m putting my hand on these here papers now and I’m speaking out loud. “And that’s what happened to me. I swear.”

©️Jane Jago

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