Elianna allowed herself to briefly think of them even though she could no longer remember their faces. Her parents had been dead these sixteen years, but the intensity of her grief had not diminished with the passing of time. Instead the aching inside of her had only grown deeper. Their unexpected deaths had set her life on a course not even she could have imagined or planned, but alas it was too late now for any regrets. The dreams she had dreamt as a girl had been replaced with the harsh reality that had become her life.
With no relatives willing to take her in after her parent’s untimely death and nowhere to go, the marriage proposal she had received seemed to be nothing short of an answer to prayer. Efah had been kind and gentle and had helped Elianna begin to hope that she might once again find happiness, but all too quickly their love had begun to unravel. She had been unable to conceive a child or give Efah an heir and he had discarded her like an unwanted piece of property. She had loved him deeply and his rejection had shattered what was left of her already fragmented heart.
Her second husband, Ahaz, had been much older than her seventeen years. His first wife had died and Elianna hoped since Ahaz already had three grown sons the fact she was barren would be of little consequence. Sadly, Ahaz was never able to get over the loss of his first wife and Elianna realized all too late he had married her to handle his household affairs and nothing more.
Sometimes the silence was deafening. Would he even notice if she walked out the door and never returned? In the three years they spent as husband and wife, he had never touched her. She woke one morning to find he had passed away sometime during the night. While Ahaz had never been cruel to her, he had never truly loved her either.
Elianna gathered the heavy water jug and hoisted it onto her right shoulder. The jug was cracked and chipped in places just like the pieces of her life. It was the hottest part of the day and she wished she was brave enough to wait until early evening like the other women did, but she didn’t want to face their scorn, their hushed whispers, and their reminders of who she really was.
As she followed the well worn path outside the city walls, she felt herself relax despite the oppressing heat. She could hear the sounds of life all around her and it helped to deafen the constant thoughts that ran through her troubled mind. She began to hum a psalm her mother had taught her ignoring the sweat that began to trickle down her back. Amias had loved to hear her sing.
Her mother would have been fond of Amias. He had married her shortly after Ahaz had died. She had found his love refreshing and her calloused heart had slowly begun to soften again. Like a cistern in the desert, his love had refreshed her parched soul.
When Amias became sick and the weeks passed by and he did not get any better, her uneasiness had grown. Amias had told her to pray. He said she could trust Yahweh to hear her prayers. She spent every spare moment when not caring for her beloved on her knees in prayer. She had begged and pleaded with the Almighty, but Amias had died anyway. She was cursed. There could be no other explanation. Everyone she had ever loved had left her. Happiness was always just out of her grasp and she no longer tried to obtain it.
The tears flowed down her dusty cheeks and she chastised herself for her delicate emotions. She wished she could be completely unfeeling like Amowc had been. She had reluctantly married him six months after Amias’s death. Amowc had always made her uneasy and he was rumored to have quite a reputation with the harlots, but she had no other choice. With no other marriage proposals presenting themselves, it was either marry Amowc or become a harlot herself. Had she been able to foresee her life with Amowc she may have chosen the latter.
Amowc had been very temperamental and when filled with wine, downright dangerous. The physical bruises he had inflicted had long since healed, but the memory of his cruelty still lived within her. The bud of hope that had begun to grow during her marriage with Amias was quickly destroyed. Why had she allowed herself to feel again?
The four years she was forced to spend with Amowc had seemed like an eternity. She had longed for death and sometimes wished he would just kill her and end the nightmare. One night after a vicious beating, he had stumbled out into the night and never returned. His lifeless body had been found in the morning. It was rumored the husband of the woman he had been unfaithful with had killed him in cold blood. Elianna never shed one tear for him.
She put the cumbersome jug down and rubbed her shoulder. She pulled her dampened hair back and wiped the sweat off her neck. Her thoughts drifted to Elam now. He had loved her raven black hair. After Amowc had been murdered she had determined never to marry again, but Elam had been relentless in his pursuit. When her meager savings had run out, and Elam was still at her doorstep she had decided to give marriage one last try.
Elam had been a good husband and they would have had a great life together, but he couldn’t live with the stigma that he had married a social outcast. Elianna couldn’t really blame him. In fact, she wasn’t all that surprised when he put her away after only a year of marriage. He had remarried and his second wife was carrying their first child. His reputation had been restored quickly enough while hers was beyond repair. The unfairness of it all had left her bitter and cold.
She could see the well way off in the distance and after resting for a few moments hoisted the heavy jug once again into position. The jug would be even heavier once filled with the water and she dreaded the long walk back. As she drew closer she could see a stranger sitting with his back leaning against the well. He was a Jew and His eyes were intently looking in her direction. What was he doing on Samaritan land? Her heart began to beat loudly within her breast. Would he try to harm her? There would be nobody to hear her screams. Nobody to care if she just disappeared.