I had never seen the sky so dark. The trees and our fields of wheat were lost in this unnatural shadowland as we headed west. The way was as familiar to me as the back of my hand, yet, in this awful blackness I hesitated.
“Hurry!” Above the grumbling of the world around us, my husband’s voice was clear. His hand reached back, barely visible in this stygian world.
Reaching out for him, I took another step and stumbled. Gravel dug into my knees like little knives and my body rebelled. I fought back the cry that rose in my chest. Whimpering in the midst of our headlong rush to safety would do no good.
My husband lifted me to my feet and pulled me into a hug. “It will be okay,” he whispered in my ear. “Just a little further and we’ll be safely over the mountains.”
Oh, the strength in his arms, the assurance in his words—there I was sheltered and secure. If I could just rest in his embrace forever, this rush to our refuge might have been more bearable. I had never considered the possibility of leaving my gardens…my friends…my life.
Of all the lands around us, we lived in what might have been the Garden of Eden. I planted seeds and, almost overnight, flowers bloomed. We had an arbor covered in vines with bunches of grapes I could barely lift. We were to pick them in two days. Now, that would not be. We would not have the juice and the wine.
How I would miss my sister Donatiya. We had shared life in a way no one else would ever know. My confidant. I told her once how I loved a man of whom my parents disapproved. With her help, they never knew how I loved him. Even when they finally relented and agreed to the marriage, this remained our secret. And she had done things that made me blush. But these were hers to share not mine. We all have secrets. I’d wager you have hidden thoughts or imaginings or even mysterious things you’ve done. Not so between Donativa and me. I was she and she was I. Who would be my sister now?
And Hurriya, who always knew what I was thinking. We could sit at the table with wine, made from our grapes, and pass a whole day laughing at the things we did. One time, when we were young and foolish, we took a boy out to the fields. We got him to drink too much wine and stole his clothes.
Pigat, my friend, how she loved the men. I knew I shouldn’t, but the way she talked about her escapades raised an almost jealous joy inside me. Oh! How I would miss my friends.
My husband helped me over the rock and up the steep path around a boulder. Drawing me close, he took my face in his gentle hands and kissed me. “Oh, how I love you,” he said. “Come, it’s only a short ways. Keep your eyes ahead.”
I loved him more than life itself. He had given me sons and daughters. He doted on my every need and asked little in return. We scrambled up to the next ledge. From there the whole valley was visible on a clear day. I heard him ahead of me scurrying up the last incline to safety. How I loved Lot. And though I knew I shouldn’t, I turned for one last look at the life I was leaving.