A rumbling snore and then a sigh escaped the man laying next to her. It was neither the worst nor the best arrangement she had ever compromised to live in. Nothing could rouse him after a long night of nursing wine. With the exception of bedding her, he was difficult to rouse in all manners of life which made him easy to live with. She safely existed in the knowledge that his emotions towards her were superficial as the years had gently aged her. Leather workers were all about what they could experience with their hands.
Daylight seeped through the shabby muslin curtains in the cool earth hut. Gossiping voices, children playing, and footsteps moving quickly on packed dirt echoed from the narrow street. A mere wall stood between her and them as provincial life hustled and bustled beyond. She justified keeping the wooden shutters closed in anticipation of the days rising heat swelling the air.
An unmarried woman who paid the rent with her body was not above female household duties. Domesticity was a meal ticket. She pulled the brown stiff curtain that separated the bedroom from the kitchen in the modest one room house. Busying herself with preparing food, sweeping, and tidying could be accomplished in the morning; however, washing clothes and the remaining dishes would have to wait until the scorching midday sun pushed her neighbors back into their shady dwellings.
“How did I get here?” She seldom asked herself this. Such simple questions never hold simple answers. Pain is an impossible emotion to feel when numbness consumes the body. Beyond questions, beyond anger, and far beyond the years that lead to this moment, she was a childless woman with five ex-husbands, a string of lovers, no religion, and little hope of salvation.
Finally, the world outside went quiet. Wrapping the long scarf around her head, she picked up the clay water jug. The street was abandoned when she shut the door behind. Her skin felt like it was baking underneath her clothes as beads of sweat dappled her hairline. Forlorn solitude was the only solace that her journey would be uneventful. Women did not like to share water with the unclean.
The hot blistering sun battered the earth making the air wave like water. The mirage made the well appear to be swaying in the distance as if to beckon her forward. With a parched throat and dry mouth, thirst consumed her every thought. A promise of a cool drink made the distance between her and the well seemed much further than it was.
Her eyes began to focus more clearly with each step drawing her closer to the well. Her heart sank. She expected to be alone. There was a man.
John 4: 1-42
~ Elena Michel is the owner Second Eden Studio. They offer sustainable consultancy and design.