In this fictional spin on the biblical story of Racquel and Leah, Catherine Anthony Boldeau writes of the sacrifice one sister made in order to bring about peace and reconciliation.
It wasn’t often that Leah confronted anyone, least of all her father, the great Lord Laban. He was not a man to be trifled with – even when in a good mood, free of the whiskey binges. But that morning, her tongue was loosened by frustration and bravery.
“You’ve ruined my life.” Leah ran her hand over her growing stomach, with an unusual look of rage in her eyes.
“Don’t you dare!”
“Don’t you dare what, father? Challenge the decision that has ruined the lives of your children and…grandchildren?”
Lord Laban was silent, uncharacteristically so, and Leah saw this as a chance to continue. Laban sighed, but Leah was ‘on a roll’.
“And Racquel resents him. And hardly speaks to me. We were best friends. Now she’s my sister-wife and hates me. It’s all your doing.”
“Yes, it’s enough. I’ve had enough. I’m taking my children and going.” Leah was determined.
“Over my dead body!”
“So be it…” The hormones had removed all timidity.
“But nothing, father. I want my sister to be happy. I love her and, with me out of the way, she has a chance at happiness.”
“You can’t take my grandchildren away from me. They’re my…”
“Your what, father?”
The wind howled outside, like a pack of demented wolves. The morning was outlawed by the sky of dark, heavy clouds. The raindrops fell with a thud on the tall windows, like a drum with a solid beat.
“Not everything and everyone belongs to you…”
Laban heard the door slam shut, and couldn’t quite recall when his daughter had left.
‘It’s just the hormones,’ he mused, as he poured himself a large whiskey.
In the next room, Racquel sat and the tears rolled down her face. She had overheard the entire conversation – unbeknown to the participants.
“She loves me,” she whispered. “She really loves me.”
And wept silently.
It took a while for Racquel to leave the room. Perhaps it was the shock of feeling loved after these few years of feeling alone, or maybe it was the nagging nausea that she had been experiencing over the past few weeks that had prevented her from getting out of her chair.
She had dismissed the possibility of having children and, after years of disappointment and several miscarriages, she carried her secret with pride. Something inside her was desperate to tell her sister, Leah, but caution prevented her from taking the risk.
Racquel looked around the room that she had come to view as her sanctuary. It was tiny, but elegantly decorated. The walls were matt antique cream, with a feature in damask lilac, edged in gold. Over the large mantelpiece was a diamond shaped mirror that dominated the room. Her mother used to love this room, and spent hours reading, writing letters and sitting in silence, listening to the fragrant tones of Nigel Hess, Ennio Morricone and John Rutter. To Racquel, it seemed like only yesterday that she would sit on the floor and admire the dark, unruly locks of the woman who spent hours in a world of her own.
The sun peeped through the window and, once invited, waltzed around the room in heavenly abandon, dispelling any sign of the previous breeze that threatened to destroy the garden only a few hours ago. It tickled Racquel’s face and gently wiped the tears worry from her brow, replacing it with a smile.
The knock on the door jolted her back into reality.
“Come in!” The interruption was an unwelcome intrusion into her world of peace and quiet.
“It’s me.” Leah’s voice was nervous.
The light fell on Leah’s hair, and her curly locks flopped like a rag doll over her large rosy cheeks.
“You look like Mama.” There were tears in Racquel’s eyes.
“You have her eyes,” said Leah, with tenderness in her voice.
“I miss her, Lee,” said Racquel.
“Babes, I miss her too. Especially now I’m pregnant again.”
“You must do.” Racquel was cautious, once again.
Leah caught herself.
“I’m sorry, I know that it must upset you, me being…”
“No, no,” said Racquel, “I’m happy for you.”
“Really?” Leah was stunned.
“Really.” The singular word was reassuring.
Just like Lord Laban, Racquel was hardly aware of when Leah left the room. All she knew was that the sun now flooded the room, creating a feeling of warmth and comfort. She rubbed her stomach gently, and felt a tiny foot kick inside her.
“Please, let it be a boy,” she whispered. “A boy…”
She sat in her firm armchair for the rest of the day, reading, writing and listening to the soothing tones of Nigel Hess, and finally fell asleep and dreamt of her mother.
Catherine Boldeau is an English teacher who writes a daily blog on Facebook. Her book, Too Proud to Beg, Too Dumb to Steal is due out in September 2014.