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Trying hard to explain

(Karnak, Egypt, 1459 BC)

Standing in front of the group of worshipful women, Bren desperately tried to explain, “It’s not what you think at all.”

“Yes, Mistress Brenzel,” they all said, awe-struck, with owl-like eyes.

Calling the two Saras aside, Bren pleaded, “Please find a way to get everyone out.” Looking at each other, they nodded and moved towards Maskia. Bren felt every eye on her, noting that some held each others’ arm whispering, while others tried to hide behind their friends. In a moment, women chatting pleasantly had morphed into a religious event. Suddenly, Bren felt the full force of adoration from Egyptians who wanted, no, desperately needed to worship their Hathor. None looked at her the same now; the seismic shift in their collective consciousness left Bren confused.

Maskia turned and said to all present, “Thank you for your help girls. Hathor, ah no – sorry- ….Mistress Brenzel commands you to give her space to reflect before she attends her celebration. Please, go to your quarters and she will come to you soon.” Everyone stared for another moment, then slowly left, some bowing low as they backed away.

The two Saras thanked Maskia as she left too, glancing backwards at Bren several times as she did.

You saw this with your own eyes?

A little later, and at home, Maskia, kneeling at his feet, confessed the miracle she’d witnessed during the morning to her husband, Senenmut. Stroking her hair, he said, “and you saw this with your own eyes?

“Yes, my lord, I, Phaidra, and all the others.”

Astonished for a moment, he asked, “Do you believe she is Hathor?” Studying her face, he knew she believed it even before she answered, “yes.” Thinking for a moment, he ask as he helped her stand, “Please, call Phaidra, I want to hear her words, too.”

What violet fire?

In their room, Bren said, “Thank you, Sara. Please, come sit a moment, I need to ask you some questions, and I want you to answer me truthfully.” Both nodded silently, following her to nearby chairs.

“Girls, you have known me for some months now, and I want you to relax. I’m just like you, there is no need to treat me any differently.” As they remained silent, Bren finally said, “Please, say something.”

Looking up, reverential, one said, voice trembling, “All saw the violet fire around your head, Mistress. We cannot unsee this.

“What?” Bren said incredulously.

Also, you prayed for us and we have not seen lice since! You are Hathor. Priests tell us stories about the the Seven Sisters and their great power, but we’ve never witnessed it ourselves… until now. How did the fire not harm you? As soon as you began speaking, it appeared.”

The other Sara, lowering her voice in awe, saying, “You are not like others, you are…something more.”

“What violet fire?” Bren asked.

Both them said, emphatically, “The ring of fire above your head!”

Well, that explains a lot, Bren thought to herself, astonished.

Girls, I need your help

Looking at the two Kushite women, Bren said, “I’m not Hathor, you know that right? But the two black beauties continued to stare, blinking now and then. Finally, Bren said, “but you’re right, I am not like everyone else, either.” Bren saw in their faces that they truly listened now, seemingly open to hear her out. Lord, what do I say? Bren quickly prayed, at a loss for words.

One Sara said, “We knew you were different when we saw you had no lice. We knew you were one of the gods then. Plus, you are kind to all, not like others we meet.”

Bren still reeling, realizing there was no way to undo what people had seen, said, “I am not a god, my friends, but I am… a messenger from God. He sends me to different places, like this land, to help people. I am here to help someone, but I must be allowed to do it. Now, since people have seen this light, I don’t know what to do. Believe me, I am no better than you, God loves me just as I love you.”

“What is the name of this God? Ra, Isis?”

“No, His name is YHWH, he is the creator of everything.”


Looking at each other they said knowingly, “Hebrews!”

“Yes, I think, that’s it.”

One of the Saras exclaimed, “Hebrews say there is only one God and you should worship only him.”

The other giggled, saying, “And they worship him even without a statue!”

“Yes,” Bren said, relieved at some slight progress.

The other Sara reasoned, “That would make life much simpler, having only one God. But how do you worship him? What does He want?”

Feeling completely out of her depth, Bren said from her heart, “He wants you to love Him. YHWH wants you to be kind to people and be truthful. He wants to be your friend.”

The two Saras, wide-eyed, replied, “Like you are to us!”

Gods are meant to be feared, Mistress

Sara went on, “People do not love the gods of Egypt, Mistress, they fear them. You must obey or terrible things happen to you are your loved ones. Why would God want to be our friend? We are nothing.”

“No, girls, that’s not true, you are very important to him, you are his children!”

With a too-good-to-be-true look, both girls became speechless.

Bren, sensing they were overwhelmed said, “For the moment, I just need your help. You are my closest friends in Egypt. Please treat me as you have in the past and don’t let anybody know I am different. Can I trust you do to that?”

Both nodded, saying, “With our lives.”

The east wing

(Rome, 1690)

Prince Imperiali, striding up to the doorman, said sharply, “Open,” which the man did hurriedly, barely in time for him to miss the door as it swung wide. The butler vainly attempted a welcome as Matteo’s boots clicked on the marble floor, the prince bounding up the spiral staircase leading to his grandmother’s quarters. Attendants and maids scurried out of his way, not daring to impede him. At his grandmother’s room, he stood, knocking. Presently, the door opened just far enough for the Imperiali physician to slip through, nose to nose with Matteo.

“Tell me physician, does my grandmother yet live?”

Gravely, Luigi Galvani answered, “Yes, though she hangs on to life by a thread. You did well to come with all haste. You may see her, but only for a moment. She has been calling for you.”

Heart pounding in his chest, Matteo entered quietly into her room, where the old woman, grand matriarch of the house Imperiali, lay small and fragile the large, four-posted bed. Matteo’s heart sunk as he pulled a stool over to her bedside, taking her hand lovingly in his as he sat – her fingers cold to his touch. He felt a slight press on his hand, and saw her eyes fluttering open, as the old woman, eyes searching, said faintly, “Is that you my grandson? Matteo…Matteo?”

“Yes, Nonna, it is your Matteo, I came as soon as I learned you were ill. I am here for you now, just as you were there for me.” Matteo remembered the best years of his life, living in her care and having run of her estate. She lavished her attention and love on him as no other. Now, it broke his heart to see her so close to death.

Turning her head with the greatest of effort, she looked at him through heavy eyelids, managing a slight smile. “You were always such a good boy.”

One last time…

“Send the others away, I must speak to you one last time.”

At that, Matteo looked at the doctor and the attendants, motioning with his grief-filled eyes that they should leave. Reluctantly they did, one by one, gently shutting the door behind them.

“We are alone, Nonna, I am here. Do not strain yourself to speak if it is too difficult.”

The old woman looking up at the ceiling, said in a raspy voice, “Pray give me a little water, grandson, my throat…”

Pouring a cup hastily, Matteo lifted it to her lips as she sipped. Spilling some on herself, Mafalda exclaimed, sitting upright, “Cazzo! That’s cold!”

“Nonna?” he said, utterly shocked.

“Get me some more pillows, Matteo, prop me up, my back is hurting.”

Dutifully, Matteo found some, arranging them behind her as she repositioned herself comfortably.

“Nonna, I thought…I thought you were…” Then he threw himself on her, hugging and kissing her cheek, saying over and over, “You’re healed, it’s a miracle!”

Coughing, the old woman managed to say, “Let go of me!” Then she said looking quickly around, “Shush…quiet, don’t alert the others yet.” Then, “Be a good boy, and instruct my staff to make me a plate of Pappradelle. Tell them to send up fresh bread, cheese and wine for both of us. Quickly now…”

Looking at him unashamedly, the old dame, patting his hand, eyes twinkling, said “Your presence dear, has given me the will to live.”

Princess escort

(Karnak, Egypt, 1459 BC)

Hearing a knock at their chamber door, the two Saras opened to find a company of small children, Dalila at the head, dressed in yellow and blue, a gold band on her head with a large green stone set in the middle. Smiling and bowing with her blueish linen cape fanning out behind like angel wings, she said, “We are at your service, Mistress Brenzel. Come, allow us to escort you to your celebration.”

Bren, who couldn’t help but smile at their serious cuteness, said, “Yes, of course princess, lead the way.”

Slowly, solemnly, with all the pomp that a group of young girls and boys could muster, they led Brenzel across the courtyard, slowly shaking their sistrum and beating a small drum as they went. Gradually, their little procession neared two large statues standing guard at the entrance of the inner court, each stone figure decorated with enormous garlands of fresh flowers. Bren heard music from within, as the smell of incense and food drew her other senses.

Maskia and the other wives stood at the front entrance, with everyone that possibly could crowding in behind them. Bedecked in their finest, all waited to welcome her. Looking at them crane and peer over one other, Brenzel sensed she was now an open secret. Swallowing hard, she thought, so much for not telling anyone! Here goes, I am trusting you, as she entered and party at Karnak began.