Elijah raised his head from Zim’s quiet body.
Nathan stroked Zim’s hair. His tears fell on Zim’s shoulder. “Why did you let him die, Lord? It’s not right.”
He stepped back and scowled at Elijah. “Do something.” His voice cracked. “Don’t just stand there. Do something.”
Elijah blinked several times. Was grief messing with Nathan’s head? “Who am I to do anything?”
Nathan picked him up by the shoulders and jammed him into the wall. He whispered in his ear. “When you said ‘neither dew nor rain,’ the world dried up. That’s who you are.”
Neetz and the widow looked up wide-eyed.
He shook Elijah against the limestones. “Ravens bring you bread and meat, and at your say so, flour comes from a barrel.”
Nathan released him and stood back. “Don’t ask who you are. Do something.”
Elijah moved a step away and brushed the hair from his face. Had Nathan forgotten reality?
From her seat on the dining skin, the widow pulled Zim’s stiffening form into her arms. “Wha…” Her voice broke. “…I do to…you?”
Elijah covered his mouth and twisted away. But then he sat next to her. Was Nathan right? Did the Lord use him? He lifted his hand to Zim’s arm then let it drop.
He leaned close.
She raised a hand over her face. Hoarse, whispered phrases filtered through her tears. “… wicked woman … kill my baby….” She gave him one last painful glance and buried her face in Zim’s hair.
Elijah glanced up. Why were Nathan and Neetz staring at him?
Elijah touched the widow’s shoulder and uttered a soft command. “Give Zim to me.” His skin tingled.
She wet her lips and shook her head. “You can’t.…”
Elijah’s steady voice continued. “You heard Nathan. You know the Lord gives you flour and oil.”
Nathan knelt by the widow. “There was this great hero, ma’am. Samson.i He begged the Lord to help ‘just once more,’ and the Lord did as he asked.”
Her chin trembled, she laid Zim in Elijah’s arms then clutched her rib cage as if to hold herself together.
“Help me up.” With Zim cradled in his arms and Nathan hoisting him by the armpits, Elijah struggled to his feet. He weaved and tottered with Nathan gripping his elbow and Neetz weeping at their side.
At the stairs, Nathan took his own sleeve between finger and thumb, pulled the cloth up, and dried the tears from Elijah’s chin.
Words formed a rock in Elijah’s throat. He swallowed hard. “I need you to leave me alone with Zim.” Who was he kidding. He couldn’t do anything alone or in a crowd. “I just need to show Zim to the Lord. Please. Go sit with the widow.” He fluttered a hand to wave them away.
Neetz’s opened her mouth, but Nathan shifted her by the shoulders. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Elijah carried Zim to the roof.
A northern raven patrolled the beach. Tiny clouds rose from the sea and floated over the garden plots and Hashabiah’s grapevines. As the clouds climbed above the rumpled purple foothills, they dissolved into the morning sky, and the sun broke free from Mt. Hermon.
In the guest room, Elijah stood with the widow’s son in his arms. “Listen, Lord. You see who I’m holding. Not some stranger you’ve never met. Our own little Zim. His mother feeds us and gives us her best room. We love Zim, and we need him back.”
He laid the fragile body on the goatskin where he and Nathan slept. He clenched his fists and paced the tiny room. “Do something?” He opened his palms over Zim’s body. “Zim is dead, Lord. What can I do?”
Stunned by the thought that shot through his head, he tottered back a step and stood speechless.
Such a deed was unthinkable. Absolutely weird. Sure to be misunderstood. He checked the empty roof then latched the door.
With his features locked in shock, Elijah stretched himself out on Zim’s corpse. “O Lord. You’re the only Lord. If you’ve ever listened to me, Lord, hear me today. I want to say you owe Zim’s mother, but really, Lord, we’re desperate. Please put Zim’s life back in his body.”
Three times Elijah stretched out on Zim. “Lord, my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
Zim gasped. His fingers dug into Elijah’s arm. “Mmhh. Nnn. Mmh!”
Elijah rolled off the skins and grabbed Zim up in such a hurry he fell against the door jamb. “Nathan!”
As Elijah struggled with the door latch, Zim cried, “Put me down.”
Nathan met them at the head of the stairs.
Elijah slid Zim into Nathan’s arms. “Neetz! Mother!” He followed Nathan as he descended the stairs and glided with Zim to the dining skin.
The widow gave a small yelp.
Neetz rushed to them. “Zim!” Her voice shook.
Elijah stood aside, breathing hard, as Nathan held his squirming bundle.
The widow’s eyes grew big. Her mouth fell open. “What?” She rubbed her forehead. “My boy!” She kissed Zim’s cheeks and reached to wrap him in her arms.