We left the house after finding me an extra pair of her father’s sandals, and then Hannah and I began to walk towards her hillside.  I had much to consider, after hearing her mother’s words, and Hannah seemed deep in thought as well, so we walked silently together.  Occasionally I would catch her sneaking furtive glances at me, as if checking to make sure that I was real.  I smiled back once, making her blush.

            Hannah’s mother had said she had dreamed of me, and a daughter.  Sometimes the Lord speaks to us in dreams.  I guessed that perhaps He had sent the dream to Hannah’s mother as a preparation for my coming.  I found myself wondering what else she might have seen in her dreams.  Being ill, and possibly close to death, could put people in a state of mind more open to God and His will, so sometimes their dreams could be prophetic.

            When we arrived at the tree, Hannah broke the silence between us.

            “Here is where I made my wish…”

            “Yes,” I agreed, “Right after your sisters left with their husbands.”

            “And I wished for…?”

            “A baby girl, who would be free like the birds in the sky.”

            “And you are…?”

            “God’s answer to your prayers.”  I said sheepishly.  I was experiencing the sensations of love, and found that they were quite powerful while contained in a mortal frame.  They forced my heart to pound incessantly, faster and faster.  I discovered that I was quite nervous.

            “I was hoping you’d say that.”  She said.  She reached for my hand and pulled me close to her.  She raised our hands and placed the back of mine against her heart, and so her hand was against my heart.  Her beautiful face was bare inches away from my own as she looked into my eyes.  She slowly closed hers, so I imitated her.  I found myself fascinated at how clearly I could feel her soft hand in mine, her warm body against me, the fierce beating of our hearts in our chests.

            “Can you feel it?” She asked.  “Can you?  Our hearts are matching in tempo, beating with the same rhythm.  You’re as nervous as I am.  Why?”

            “I am afraid that you might not want me.  I have watched you all your life, and want nothing else but you, and I fear that you will not feel the same way.”  I admitted openly.  “And I fear that you do not believe me, when I say that I am an angel.”

            “I have patiently hoped and waited my whole life for this day, and for you,” she replied, “I endured endless days of waiting, and was afraid that you would never come.  But you have, so there is no need for fear.  Already I know that I love you, so I believe anything you wish to tell me.  God brought you to me, and there must have been a reason.  I am not going to question Him, for how can anyone question God’s will?”

            With that, her other hand found its way into my hair and she pulled me down to her, so that her sweet, soft lips could meet mine in a kiss that brought two incomplete souls together to make them one.

  

We were soon married and I found myself the willing apprentice to my father-in-law.  I found I enjoyed the life of a shepherd, for there was something beautiful about it:  the wild world around us, a gorgeous canvas painted by the hand of God, and a flock to care for, raise and defend against all dangers.  It was good, honourable work.

            It was only a short time before Hannah became pregnant, which was considered a fortuitous sign of God’s favour by all.  All save me, however, for I remembered God’s charge that I would have to take the child from her mother and bring her to Heaven. 

            As the months passed and Hannah’s pregnancy continued, her mother’s illness began to take a turn for the worse.  I soon found myself the physician tending to the needs of both, once it became prudent for Hannah to take it easier and avoid chores and strain for the good of the baby.  One day, while Hannah slept, I brought some broth to her mother.  She seemed asleep as well, so I put the carefully handcrafted bowl down beside her on the wooden table next to the bed.

            She suddenly awoke with a start, sweat upon her brow.

            “The child…  a dove brought low by a hawk…  a storm, with thunder, and lightning!  The world shakes, tremors and calamities…  the  boy, alone in the wilderness…  such danger!  A cat struggling with the hawk, and then the bird battles a beast, a monster!”  She cried out, delirious with fever.  Yet, perhaps these were not the ravings of a sick woman, but were instead the prophecies of one approaching our Father?  As an angel, I could not close my mind to the very likely idea that she might have been touched by God.  She had spoken of the hawk and the dove, an event only Hannah and I knew about…

            “What is wrong, Mother?”  I asked, “What do you see?”

            “I see the girl-child, with a boy…” She clutched at my shirt, pulling me close.  Her eyes bored into my own, and into my soul, as she spoke.  “He bears a shining sword…  so beautiful…  you are there, and there is darkness around you all, held back by the glowing blade…  yet you are different…”                               

            “What of this monster, this beast?”  I asked.

            “It is fanged, and has wings…  it is horrible!  It fights the cat and the bird in the wilderness…  they burn brightly against the night…  shining, like the sword…  The girl, she and the boy…  the boy fights with himself…  there is pain, and screaming and darkness, and then…  light?  Yes, light…  the light of fire!  So bright!  Oh, it was horrible, Raphael.  So terrible!”

            She collapsed back into her bed, the fevered energy brought on by her dreams already gone.  She soon drifted back to sleep.

            I, unfortunately, had much to think on, and did not sleep all that night.  I feared her dreams, feared what they could mean if the Lord’s hand had formed these visions.  She had mentioned a girl.  Could she mean Hannah’s coming daughter, the child she had prayed for?  Could my daughter be in some sort of danger?  The Lord had warned of a sacrifice that I would have to make one day, and that thought brought with it trembling as I lay in the dark, trying to imagine the images Hannah’s mother had seen.  I resolved to ask her if she had seen anything else in her dreams of late, hoping that I would receive some further clue.

            I never got the chance.  In the morning we discovered that Hannah’s mother had died in the night.

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