Shuruppak

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As they neared Shuruppak, Lilith and Na'amah pulled their cloaks tighter around their bodies and over their heads. They approached on foot and led their donkey behind them. The travelers stopped for a moment to take it all in.

Cut lengths of wood, hand tools, building supplies, and tall scaffolding platforms chaotically spread out across the highlands of Shuruppak. Workers of all sort came and went. Some moved large timber. Others helped erect beams and platforms. The rustle of the river Euphrates refreshed them as they pounded away. No one knew what they were building. They were there for the pay and promised meal.

One man watched over it all. His name in those days was Ut-napishtim, but when you have a name like Ut-napishtim, you need a nickname more than most. Ut-napishtim would be remembered throughout history as Noah.

Noah had presence. Large in stature, his white hair and beard shone with radiance as he gave directions and orders, and showed foremen his plans and designs.

On the river bank lay large wooden bow shapes that would later be held upright in a row to create the hull of a great ship. At that moment the structures and timber looked like very large bow and arrow sets meant for the gods.

"Here, take this." Lilith handed Na'amah a small metal box, which she quickly tucked away into her garment. "Stick to our plan. I'll see you on the inside."

"I'm nervous," Na'amah admitted.

"Are you kidding? Once you open that little box, you'll practically own the place. Now go on, go find your sister!"

"You and Jasmine take care of yourselves. I'll see you both on the inside real soon," Na'amah said, mostly to soothe her own mind. She didn't like to be without Lilith during such cataclysmic times.

Across the distance, a woman brought Noah a basket of food and drink.

"Is that her?" Lilith gestured.

Na'amah squinted in the bright daylight. The woman was squat and round, her hair mostly gray. She looked like a hard worker. A strappin' woman. "That woman, my twin sister? Oh no, I don't think so. But I guess I'll have to go up there to find out."

Na'amah walked across the dunes. She resolved to find her sister, but she hoped to avoid Noah. Na'amah wrapped a scarf around her face. Her eyes were all that were visible under the top of her hood when she headed up the hill.

The woman left the basket of food with Noah and started back from where she came. Na'amah narrowed her path toward the woman and got close enough to speak.

"Excuse me, ma'am. I have a message for a woman named Na'amah. Could you direct me to her?"

The old woman stopped and eyed the visitor head to foot. "Is it good news or bad news?"

Na'amah clutched at the small metal box under her garb. "I bring good news."

The woman motioned to be followed. The two entered a large wood building containing a wide open hall of tables and long benches. They entered the kitchen, where the women were busy cooking and preparing food.

"Hey, Skippy, you have a visitor."

Na'amah let her eyes adjust to indoor light. There, her twin sister moved about the kitchen, still singing and dancing as she crossed the floor. Their eyes met with recognition. The twin sisters immediately went into secret twin sister mode, taught to them so many years ago by their sweet, loving, but decidedly quirky mother.

"Thank you, Emzara," Skippy said as she led her visitor to her private living quarters. Ham's wife, Sambethe, raised an eyebrow and followed Skippy and her mysterious visitor with a curious gaze as they walked out the door together.

Outside, a row of bunks provided a resting place for workers, wives, and their children. Skippy opened the door to the third bunk in the line and together, they entered.

Once safely inside her bunk, the sisters embraced madly, both tearing Na'amah's scarf away to see each other face to face.

"Sister, I can not believe it is you! Where have you been since I left the temple?"

"Are you kidding? I was in the temple library all this time. I'm, like, all smart and stuff. For instance, I know that the earth is in danger. I heard you and your husband may have a solution."

"Sister, you are here just in time. We must get you on board the great ark my husband is building. Do not let anyone know there are two of us and we can ride this out together."

"Like old times?" Na'amah squealed.

"Yes! Like old times," Skippy squealed back.

"I have brought something of great importance to help your husband build his ark."

"You? I don't know if he'd listen to you, especially if he thought you were me. He takes his commands only from the Lord."

"Don't worry, sister," Na'amah assured. "He'll know that what I have came direct from the hand of God. Here, let me show you."

Na'amah opened the small lead box. The inside was lined with a red knit wool cloth that made a soft bed for a smooth round stone, which emitted a strange green glow. Na'amah took the glowing stone into her left hand and whispered into it. A bright green speck jumped from the stone and buzzed fast around a wood cot on the floor. It spun around and around the small bed frame, creating streaks and trails behind it. In an instant the bed had been taken apart and rebuilt into a chair.

Na'amah sat satisfied on the newly built chair. Even she was astonished at what she witnessed. The green speck jumped back to the stone on her palm. She returned the glowing rock to the soft red wool lining of the metal box and closed the lid.

Skippy was impressed. She saw her sister in a new light. She really was smart! Who knew spending years in the temple library would lead to this?

"It's so good to see you again. Now, can I have my bed back?"

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