They had been fighting their way through the bushes for hours. “Let’s keep moving. We are almost there now,” said the father trying to keep his nerves under control.
“Are you sure this is the way?” asked the mother.
“Yes. Look,” the father showed her a piece of paper. “We just passed these checkpoints here. According to the instructions, we should now keep moving north, and we will be there in less than one hour.”
“Dad! I am hungry,” said one of the twins.
“And I am tired,” said the other one.
“Ok, girls. Let’s take a break,” said the mother.
The father took out his backpack, grabbed two cereal bars and a bottle of water from inside it, and handed them over to his children.
“Here, girls. Eat something,” the father said. Then, he turned to his wife and spoke softly, being careful not to be overheard by the girls. “We have been deep into the woods for hours. Who thought of this plan to meet out here in the middle of the forest? It makes little sense, don’t you think?”
“Yes. But do you remember when they warned us that the instructions would not make sense at first? Just like when Moses fled Egypt with God’s people.”
“They took a route that got them trapped between mountains and Pharaos’ army when the sea was opened up, and they could survive. Yes, I remember that. I love that story too, but…”
“Calm down, baby. We are going to be alright.”
“Ok. You’re right. I just don’t like to be out here with you and the girls.”
“Don’t worry. We have all we need in our go-bags. And, as you said. We are close to the meeting point now. We will be fine.”
“Ok, then. Let’s continue,” The father said when suddenly the cry of some startled bird focused his attention in that direction. Something was coming through the bush. “Quiet!” he demanded with a whisper. “Do you hear that?” The mother held the children and made them silent. The sound approached, coming slowly, carefully, coming from the same direction they had come.
“Quick! In here,” The father said, leading them into a hole in the ground behind the bush. They flattened themselves down inside the hole and, through a veil of leaves, almost as dense as a green curtain, the father watched.
The sound was from boots crushing the vegetation beneath them. Soldiers in black moved through the woods liked skillful hunters. There was no way to know how many there were. The children were scared. The mother covered their mouths, closed her eyes, and started praying silently. One soldier stood a few meters from where the family was hiding. He paused, almost on top of them, dropped to his knees, and studied the ground. The soldier shook his head several times, as if he was confused.
The father held his breath. The soldier’s eyes scanned the ground and were moving its focus toward the family’s hiding place. The father froze, every muscle and bone in his body steady as a breathless statue. But the eyes of the soldier, the only thing not covered by his black mask, stopped before he found the hole where the family laid. The father’s instinct was to run and lead the soldier away from his family, but he didn’t have to. Inexplicably, the soldier moved away, blind to all the clear trails leading to the family’s location. The crashing sound of the forest under his boots faded away with every step.
“I think he is gone,” said the father.
“What about the others?” The mother asked.
“How in heavens did they miss us?”
“Heavens all right. God made them blind.”
“Ok, girls. I think it is safe to come out now. Let’s keep moving.”
“Then, we got to the meeting place where the brothers were gathered together. Later that day, the soldiers that were looking for us finally found our camp, but they were too late. When they got there, the sky suddenly opened. And the most bright light came from the heavens. A loud sound like thunder echoed through the forest, and in the blink of an eye, they and everything else that was bad in the world was gone. We had a seven-day party, celebrating and thanking the Creator for our new life, a new beginning. The beginning of the New Earth.”
“Heieij,” Sarah and Naomi cheered.
“I love this story so much, dad,” said young Sarah.
“Me too. Me too. I want more stories, Dad! Again, again,”little Naomi requested persistently.
“That is enough story for today. Time for bed,” said Marcel covering Sarah with her favorite blanket and taking Naomi in his arms to her bed.
“Dad?” Sarah said.
“When are we going to visit Nathalie and Misja again?”
“Soon, baby, ok?”
“What about next year?
“Really? Promise?” Sarah asked excitedly.
“Yes. Would you like that?”
“Yes. I would love that.”
“It’s a deal, then,” Marcel assured her. He kissed the girls goodnight, turned the little lamp off, and left their room, closing the door behind him.
“The same story again?” June asked from her bed when Marcel entered the room.
“Every time. They love this one with their sisters in it,” Marcel answered, joining June under the bedding.
“Imagine how much they are going to love learning about what happened with all the amazing details,” June said, putting her book away and turning off the lamp on her nightstand.
“They will be thrilled. It’s almost time for Sarah to study this at school, right?” Marcel said while turning off the light on his side of the bed.
“Yes. Next year,” June replied.
“We will be in our new assignment. Do you think the girls are going to like it?”
“To be in one of the best spots on the planet for stargazing, where their older twin sisters happen to live, in the so-called land flowing with milk and honey? Huh, let me think,” June answered with a smirk.
“You’re right. The girls are going to love Israel,” Marcel agreed.
“It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion. So different from when we visited the region for the first time. Still, in the old world, remember?”
“I do. That night stargazing in Mitzpe Ramon was unforgettable.”
“I loved you asking me to marry you that day under the stars,” said June kissing Marcel gently. “That was very romantic.” Marcel kissed June back.
“Are you excited to move there?” Marcel asked.
“I still can’t believe we got this assignment,” June said. “And to work with the twins on this special project, how great is that?”
“Sarah asked about Nathalie and Misja again today,” Marcel said.
“She will love to be around her sisters again. And it will be good for her and Naomi as they grow up.”
“Definitely,” Marcel agreed. “I’m super excited too. I saw the project of their Lazarus extension. The drawings of the new section for the First Century resurrections look amazing. I have to show you.”
“Can you imagine?” said June. “Meeting John the Baptist in the flesh?”
“It’s still going to take a while, of course. But I better start working on my list of questions for him now,” Marcel said, making June smile.
“I haven’t felt this tired for a long time,” Marcel said, stretching arms and legs followed by a long yawn. “What a great party that was, right?” He said, moving deep under the sheets.
“Oh yeah. It was a beautiful wedding. Levi and Anne were so happy. She looked astonishing, didn’t she? I loved her dress. So colorful and bright.”
“You know what was the most special thing about it for me?”
“What?” June asked.
“Seeing Levi’s father at his side this time.”
“Oh, yes. Levi was floating in the clouds, wasn’t he? Amazing that they could time the wedding with his father’s resurrection. That was really special.”
“I’m so happy for my friend. I’m going to miss them so very much, you know.”
“Me too, baby. But it will be only a few decades. It will pass in a heartbeat. You’ll see,” June said, giving Marcel a comforting embrace. “And this time you don’t have to wait that long to see Levi again. Nothing that a pod trip doesn’t solve, right?”
“Yes. We will have to visit them quite often now. Especially with the baby coming,” Marcel said, hugging June back.
“Baby? What, baby?” June said, sitting up straight.
“Ahaaa,” mumbled Marcel realizing he had spoken too much. “Didn’t you know?” he asked with a plastic smile.
“Know what?” June said, leaning towards Marcel with threatening almond eyes fixed on him.
“Ok. I’ll tell you, but promise you will not freak out, ok?” said Marcel straightening himself up in the bed and holding June’s hands.
“Tell me what, Marcel?” June said, being serious this time.
“Ok. Here it comes,” Marcel paused before he announced. “Anne is expecting.”
“What!” June yelled.
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