The Day God Died: Chapter I

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Chapter I: Necessity Breeds Destiny

We were poor, almost destitute. I remember pretending to sleep through my father’s weeping himself into exhaustion, day-after-day, from scratching a scanty living gathering and selling fish to our neighbors. The Nile sustained us, until, that is, I became a thief. Father was a holy man, so the first day I stepped through the door with a handful of silver and laid the coins before his feet, he didn’t ask where my bounty came from, but instead he kissed me and hurried out to trade for wheat and barley. Though necessity drove me to steal my daily bread, I soon found, Ra forgive me, that I was good at it, and I liked it. In fact, I loved the thrill of following fat patricians as they waded through the agora’s crowds. I became their shadows, then when the moment was ripe, I jostled them, pretending accident, and I slipped my knife into their robes and faded into the crowd before they knew their purse was gone.

            That day, however, thievery and destiny found each other, and forever after my insignificant life played a role larger, and far worse, than that of the gods. I had been stupid, even overconfident. It was a ruse I used often: I hid behind some drunkard poking the barrels of beer imported from upper Egypt grumbling about their price. Senselessly, I lobbed a small stone at the next merchant’s stall, if I am remembering right, hitting him full on the chin. At once, the stall holders were clamoring at each other’s throats, and in their recriminations, I grabbed a basket, believing it stuffed with bread, from behind the beer seller’s stall and sauntered away.

            But a woman caught me in the act. She emerged from the encirclement of barrels, stored behind the stall, just as I scooped up my prize and shouted: “Thief!” The entire agora turned. A cacophony of voices yelled, “Stop that thief!” and “Somebody, grab that boy!” I bolted and squirmed through the press of the rich and poor alike until—crack—someone supplied a cudgel to the forehead. I, who fished the agora like my father did the Nile, was knocked down by a merchant’s slave. When I came ‘round, a soldier had dug his heel into my chest, pinning me on the ground in the center of a jabbering, malicious crowd. I struggled but he picked me up by the neck and punched me full in the face with his battle-hardened fists. My legs went limp.

            “That boy is Ishaq.” I heard someone cry. Another yelled, “have pity on that boy, his father is the servant of Horus.”

            But the crowd’s faces whirled and meshed with the colors of the Pharoah’s blue guard, and I knew I was caught.

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This is a first draft only. The chapter has another seven-hundred words to be written. However, I wanted you all to share with me the experience of following along while I write a story.

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