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The Crippling

This time, like all the other times, he stood poised on the edge of the roof and knew he would have to push off swiftly, using his arms to propel him to the mound of chaff.

It was dangerous and his father had explained the danger in such a leap, but an eight-year old who has successfully leapt from a roof-top to a pile of chaff, the wind rushing around him, the shouts of the other boys around him, an eight-year old determines to do it again. And again.

And so, he leapt. It was a good, strong leap and the fall was full of excitement, full of laughter, but Aaron leapt too soon after and Jesus turned his head to see who was following so fast and in that head turning, spoiled the falling and the two of them lay hurt, fallen heads pillowed by the chaff, legs limp upon the ground.

They called - long calling - for the old house was far enough away from all the others to be protected from parents' anxious eyes and so they lay, hurting, until Ephram came looking because he like leaping too.

There were crying mothers and stern fathers and the terrible pains and tears they could not hide. Joseph was not counted as one of ten for the late afternoon's sobered praying.

The leg of Jesus healed. Perhaps Joseph's hands that worked with wood had helped to set it straight for, it was set straight and it grew straight. But not Aaron's.

From that afternoon, Aaron would limp - both legs twisted enough to demand a crutch. Aaron's mother would sometimes glance at Jesus with a look that seemed of hate; then, turn her head because Jesus could walk and her only son could not.

Sometimes Aaron sat along the shore while all the other boys leaped into the river. Sometimes, he just hid from all the laughter.

On Atonement day that year, an eight-year old named Jesus, prayed to be forgiven for the laughter of an afternoon, for his head's turning to see who was following so quickly and for the pain he felt he'd caused his friend. He asked Aaron, and His Lord, to be forgiven for that crippling.

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