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Short Fiction: The Standard Version (5 of 5)

I love reading, writing and expressing myself in fiction and nonfiction forms.

To what era does this book belong?

To what era does this book belong?

Leaving in a Hurry

“You must leave now. I have a car outside waiting for you. The driver will take you to a place where another driver is waiting to take you to the border,” said Evran.

“But first we must go back to the hotel to get our personal stuff,” said Maren.

“You better not. If you go back to the hotel, you run the risk of being caught. The Turkish authorities consider what is in this package part of the Turkish heritage. Word has gone out that you were here to take something that should be left here. Spies have followed every leg of your trip. Their mission is to stop you from taking it outside the country. They have the power and authority to snatch it back from you and stop you from leaving the country,” Evran said. “My driver will take you to a designated spot where another man will trek with you and make sure you get to the Greek borders safely.”

Maren shook her head to dismiss thoughts of wanting to hide, to close her eyes, and to go to sleep.

Simon took her hand gently and led her outside. His smile reassured her, and she walked with him even though she was shaking. They left the inn at once and boarded the car that was waiting for them, leaving their personal belongings behind.

At Bkerke

Lola and Maren stood respectfully as they watched the procession. For that special occasion, they had travelled to Bkerke located 650 meters above the bay of Jounieh, northeast of Beirut in Lebanon .

The two sisters had received a special invitation from the Maronite Patriarch. The invitation was a sign of recognition and thanks for their assistance in locating the manuscript and returning it to its rightful owners, the Maronites of Lebanon.

“Why is the procession taking place here at Bkerke and not at the cathedral in Beirut?” said Lola.

Maren looked at Lola with unconcealed disbelief. “I’m surprised you forgot that Bkerke is the episcopal see of the Maronite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch.”

The see of the Maronite Catholic Patriarchate has never been in Antioch since its creation around the year 858. It was originally in the Batroun mountains in Lebanon and was moved to various locations in the Byblos mountains for the next five hundred years. It was then moved to Qannoubine in the Qadisha Valley because of non-stop oppression and harassment. It remained there from the year 1440 to the year 1823 when it was moved to Dimane . Finally, it was moved in the year 1830 to Bkerke northeast of Beirut in Lebanon.

Modern Lebanese Maronites are divided in separate clans, each working for its own self interest. Bringing the manuscript to Lebanon would help to bring them together even if for a brief time. It was a wonderful reminder of the Maronites’ rich cultural and religious heritage and with any luck of what was real and important in their lives.

The Procession

A deacon carried the manuscript in an ornate wooden box. Incense, hymns, and prayers from many of the faithful welcomed the manuscript in the first leg of a tour throughout the Christian villages. The final leg of the tour would be in Beirut before being finally placed in a locked special glass container at Bkerke.

A respectful silence hung over the assembly. Several well-known personalities from other religious communities in Lebanon were in attendance. They showed up in friendship with the Maronite community.

People bowed their heads in prayer. Old women covered their heads even though it was no longer required by the catholic church. Head covering was once done only when receiving the Eucharist. Some younger women had their hands and eyes lifted to the sky in silent prayers. From time to time, one could hear words of praise uttered out loud.

The two sisters knew that this event would not solve the problems of the community. Notwithstanding, their eyes filled with pride. They were glad they had the opportunity to play a role in bringing the sacred manuscript back to its people.

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Request for Dispensation

“Have you seen Simon since we arrived?” asked Lola.

“He texted me. He has spoken to his superior about leaving the priesthood and started the dispensation process. He also wrote a letter to the Pope in Rome to explain why he chooses to leave the priesthood.”

“What reason did he give in his letter to the Pope”?

“He gave two reasons. The first one is his wish to be more involved in social justice and peace work. The second one is his belief that he could not live a celibate life.”

“Did he mention your name as one of the reasons?” said Lola teasingly.

Maren smiled as she said, “He only mentioned my name to his superior but not to the Pope. I cannot wait to have him come home to me.”

THE END.

© 2020 Liliane Najm