'An Angel Had Come to My Mother'
In this fictional account of Jesus's childhood, Cleopas tells his nephew Jesus the startling truth of his divine origin.
BY: Anne Rice
"Jesus, come in so you can hear me if I whisper in your ear."
My mother refused to leave. "Don't you tempt him," my mother said.
"And what do you mean by that?" Cleopas asked. "You think I've come to the Holy City of Jerusalem to tempt him?"
Then he clutched at my arm. His fingers were burning.
"I'm going to tell you something," he said to me. "You remember it. This goes in your heart with the Law, you hear me? When she told me the angel had come, I believed her. The angel had come to her! I believed."
The angel--the angel who'd come in Nazareth. He'd come to her. That was what he'd said on the boat, wasn't it? But what did this mean?
My mother stared at him. His face was wet and his eyes very big. I could feel the fever in him. I could see it.
He went on.
"I believed her," he said. "I am her brother, am I not? She was thirteen, betrothed to Joseph, and I tell you, she was never out of the sight of us outside of our house, never could there have been any chance of anyone being with her, you know what I'm saying to you, I mean a man. There was no chance, and I am her brother. Remember, I told you. I believed her." He lay back a little on the clothes bundled behind him. "A virgin child, a child in the service of the Temple of Jerusalem, to weave the great veil, with the other chosen ones, and then home under our eyes."
He shivered. He looked at her. His eyes stayed on her. She turned away, and then moved away. But not very far. She stayed there with her back to us, close to our cousin Elizabeth.
My cousin Elizabeth was watching Cleopas, and watching me. I didn't know whether she heard him or not.
I didn't move. I looked down at Cleopas. His chest rose and fell with each rattling breath and again he shivered.
My mind was working, collecting every bit of knowledge I had ever learned that could help me make sense of what he had said. It was the mind of a child who had grown up sleeping in a room with men and women in that same room and in other rooms open to it, and sleeping in the open courtyard with the men and women in the heat of summer, and living always close with them, and hearing and seeing many things, My mind was working and working. But I couldn't make sense of all he'd said.
"You remember, what I said to you, that I believed!" he said.
"But you're not really sure, are you?" I whispered.
His eyes opened wide and a new expression came over him, as if he was waking from his fever.
"And Joseph isn't either, is he?" I asked in the same whisper. "And that is why he never lies beside her."