Chapter 18

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Sarai

The sun would be coming up soon. The third watch had passed, and the whole of the night was nearly gone.

No one was stirring yet. Only the sentries were awake. I decided to go into the woods myself and attempt to find water. My mouth was dry, and I wanted to splash my face, to wash the disastrous night off me.

I was thinking about forgiveness. I didn't blame Lamech for what he had done in my tent. I had prodded him into it. I had deliberately upset him, and I had suspected the wildness was in him.

But though he had been wild, he hadn't lost control. Not once, not for one moment.

He had been trying to show me why loving him was unwise, why it would be a mistake for me. He was doing only what he did every day—pushing me away. He had come to his breaking point and pushed me as hard as he could.

I could fall over backward or fight back.

But either response would take a great deal of forgiveness.

And not just on my part. I would be a little surprised if Zeke and Kenai and the others hadn't already half murdered Lamech. The ridiculous thought made me smile despite my melancholy, and when I smiled, my lip split again.

I found a clear pool at a natural spring and knelt beside it. After I filled my water skin and drank deeply, I retrieved my little soap and a cloth from my satchel. I wet the cloth and put it to my lips, wincing at the sting, but the sting prompted me to bend over the pool and inspect my reflection in the soft light of the morning.

My lip was swollen, and I looked tired, so I splashed my face with water and followed that with a thorough wipe down of my body, uncovering body parts and re-covering them one at a time as necessary. It felt good and made me think of the stream at home behind our house. If I had been there instead, I could have packed up my soap in my satchel and gone home to ask my mother's advice.

I touched my lip gingerly and then pressed the cold, wet cloth to it again.

How could I forgive this? Well, that was not really the question. The question was should I forgive this?

I knew what the scriptures said, the prophets, the priests, my parents. The answer was yes, as many times as it took.

But my heart was already so broken and disappointed, and Lamech knew it.

So was it wise? I had a calm disposition, a desire to please others and see to their comfort and happiness. I liked to have peaceful surroundings. I always forgave. But I did realize that this trait made me seem, well, like a push-over, like I was weak. Some people went out of their way not to offend me because they didn't think I could handle it. And some people didn't care about offending me because they knew they would be immediately forgiven. Most of the time, I didn't really care either way.

But perhaps my desire for peace had given Lamech the impression I did not care about him. And perhaps I would open myself to manipulation if I let this go, if I just forgave it and failed to take him to task over it, if I did not allow my brothers to avenge me.

Wasn't that what I had done with Darius?

I sighed. I had neither forgiven Dare, nor let my brothers avenge me. I hadn't dealt with my feelings, just ignored them. I never allowed myself to think of what happened, but somehow it was always in the back of my mind.

We can't go on like this, Sarai. I thought we were friends.

"We're not." I whispered the lie aloud. It still felt bitter and wrong. He had been my friend, was still trying to be my friend, and I had let him down. It was I who had not acted the friend.

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