Before And After: Forgotten

Before Editing:

The sullen young man, trapped by the eternal night which so recently befell him, submitted to the humiliation of allowing his father to lift him from the cart and lead him up the steps of Uncle Benjamin’s home. He was a shepherd. His father was a shepherd. His father before him was a shepherd, and so was his father before him. Then a lion attacked his father’s flock, killing two young lambs. Josiah slayed the lion,  but the stubborn dying beast stole his sight with one final lash at him.

Blinded, he was a disgrace to his family, bringing dishonor where once he was honored. He tightened his grip around his guiding stick, a bitter taste in his mouth. Before his father whittled it down, this instrument was a noble staff to protect his sheep. Now unable to keep watch over his sheep and hence of no use to his family, his father brought him here to Jerusalem, to live out the rest of his days in asylum.

“Just one more, we’re almost there,” his father whispered, then called, “Hail, Uncle.”

His uncle’s voice called back, “Hail, Natan and Shalom, Josiah.”

As Josiah stumbled over the last invisible step, smooth but wrinkled hands clasped his hands,  already hardened in his nineteen years by many nights spent with his sheep in the hills of Galilee. His uncle released his hands then and, seizing him by the shoulders, granted him a stunning peck on his cheek right below the blindfold he had to have somehow managed to not notice. “My, how handsome you’ve grown. I don’t believe I’ve seen you since the Passover the year of your bar mitzvah, Josiah.”

His father started, “Well, as you can see…”

“Yes, yes, your messenger told me. Don’t worry, he’s safe here.”

“Thank you, Mary and I appreciate this, Uncle. Farewell, I must be off. Take care of yourself and mind your uncle, Son.” His father’s footsteps echoed down the stone staircase.

After Editing:

No choice but to submit to utter humiliation. Trapped in an eternal night, Yoshiyah ben Natan sulked as his father lifted him from the cart. He ought to be out leading his helpless flock, not helplessly being led up the steps of Uncle Binyamin’s home in Jerusalem.

He was a shepherd. His father was a shepherd. His father before him was a shepherd, and so was his father before him. That accursed lion. It’d killed two young lambs before Yoshiyah slayed it and the stubborn dying beast stole his sight with one final lash at him.

Blinded, he was a disgrace to his family. He tightened his grip around his guiding stick, a bitter taste in his mouth. Before his father whittled it down, this instrument was a noble staff to protect his sheep. Now unable to keep watch over his sheep, he was of no use to his family. Uncle Binyamin was all that stood in between him and a life of begging in the streets.

“Just one more, we’re almost there,” his father whispered before calling, “Hail, Uncle.”

His uncle’s voice called back, “Hail, Natan and Shalom, Yoshiyah.”

Yoshiyah stumbled over the last invisible step. Soft, wrinkled hands clasped his rough hands,  hardened in his nineteen years by many nights spent with his sheep in the hills of Galilee. His uncle released his hands, seized him by the shoulders, and pecked his cheek right below the blindfold. “My, how handsome you’ve grown. I don’t believe I’ve seen you since the Passover the year of your bar mitzvah, Yoshiyah.”

Had his uncle somehow missed the blindfold? Who treated a blind man so?

His father started, “Well, as you can see…”

“Yes, yes, your messenger told me. Don’t worry, he’s safe here.”

“Thank you, I appreciate this, Uncle. Shalom.” His father’s footsteps echoed down the stone staircase.

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