She held tight to the rough wooden beam as another twisting, breathtaking pain held her. And released her. As the silent figure next to her touched her forehead with a rag, she impatiently swatted his hand away.
Wanting him to leave, knowing he wouldn’t, she stared out of the open door at the now-chilly night. In the distance a light wavered in a window. A dog barked. She glanced at the sky.
“He’s nothing!” She heard her sister moan in her head, “At least you could have chosen…I don’t know…a mason or something.” She snorted into the dark as she remembered that afternoon by the river. Her sister always had a little too much interest in the mason family down the street. Something about hands…she looked over at his hands, now shooing away a stray goat. The goat, offended, stared back at the lanky figure, unmoving.
The wave again- this time it was harder to breathe, and she retched into the darkness.
Into the blank wall of pain she stared, as she had stared that night many months before, in the corner of the yard, by the rough stone wall. At first she had thought it was a fire. No, no heat…just- light. She shook her head as the wave subsided into the dark of the stall. Every fiber of her body was a vehement NO, resisting the hurt, the thing that was trying to tear her apart. She clenched her teeth. The pains were coming faster now, unstoppable, overwhelming.
At the clutching apex she saw again the light, heard again the voice- wanting to cry out, to reject, to stop this twisting that she was powerless to control. And she remembered that night: the silence inside the roar of light, the whisper that burned her to the bones.
“No…” she groaned, through clenched teeth. No, and again no. This was not part of the contract, not part of any fine words and overwhelming glory, not part of that silly girlish acquiescence. The pain rose, and rose again, seeming like it would never end. She was vaguely conscious of the tall presence by her, smoothing her hair back, back under her scarf, but she was too far gone to swat him again. She braced herself, knees shaking and failing, nails digging into the wood.
And suddenly she knew, as she met the silent roar of burning light again, staring as before into the dark- it was beyond her, and it was yes. And it had always been yes, a million times yes. She was His, always would be, always willing clay in His hand. The only way through was into the fire, and beyond into the whispering dark.
She opened herself to the blank wall, screaming a whisper into the dark, and stepped over into the fire.