Mentee Name: Barbara Britton
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 59,000
When the cursed daughter of a priest flees Jerusalem with a sympathetic guard, they are captured by an enemy army commander with a curse of his own. Curing the commander is their only hope for freedom.
Jerusalem, 840 B.C.
Hannah waited mere feet from the prophet of Israel, shaded from the Jerusalem sun by the sprawling branches of a tamarisk tree. Sweat beaded beneath her head covering, a result of the mid-summer heat, her nerves, or both. A crowd hung back, blocking the Horse Gate and lining the city’s massive stone walls. They had come to see the man of God heal the lame and the cursed. Hannah bore a curse since birth. For seventeen years, she had been unable to taste or smell. Her ears were but a flap of skin with no slope, no lobe. Her father said it was a punishment from God for an ancestor’s crime. He should know as the chief priest.
She grasped her father’s velvet robe as the prophet’s hands slid over a young boy’s leg. The boy had lain in his father’s arms not two feet from Hannah and her father and brother, his limb nothing but a boiled bone with skin. She shook with anticipation as she witnessed sun-toasted flesh, fat as a baby’s cheek, grow on top of the boy’s decomposed leg. What will it feel like when the prophet touches my nose, my lips, my ears.
“Will it hurt?” she asked, looking to her father.
Gershon, her brother, bent low. “Not as much as our humiliation. Will not everyone hear that the chief priest’s daughter is in need of healing?” Gershon scanned the mass of people. “To think the prophet refused us a private ceremony.”
“Hush,” her father warned, glancing to see if the holy one listened.