Mary Magdalene, Thursday January 18, 30 CE
Cyrus is so good at turning up unexpectedly that you almost become used to it.
What surprised me was the scruffy-looking donkey he arrived on.
“Where’s the camel?” I asked.
“Repossessed…Look, can I come in and talk please?”
Another surprise: Cyrus saying please. He came in and sat down in the kitchen. Mary smiled at me and left us in private.
“You look well,” he said, unexpectedly. I thought he had come to discuss something important and then he came out with that.
“Yes, positively blooming, I would say. Oh, er, you’re not…?”
My own husband had failed to recognise my morning sickness while this relative stranger instantly spotted something in my appearance that no one else had noticed.
“I think so, but before you ask, I don’t know who…”
I had slept with him and Jesus within two nights of each other, so either could be the father, if indeed I am pregnant. However, given my past success rate at conceiving a child with Jesus, the odds must be uneven in Cyrus’s favour. Then again, if I wish to avoid being stoned to death for adultery, sleeping with my husband provides a good alibi. Cyrus inspected the floor.
“So, what have you come all this way to talk about?” I asked, relieving him of the burden of opening the conversation.
“I’m in trouble. Financial trouble.”
It would take all night to write down everything we said, but the essence was that he had never been as rich as all that. The reason he had entertained us at the gate house in Shiloh was because that was where he lived. His genuinely rich master lived in the big house. He used to supplement his income by travelling around selling trinkets when his master was away, and he did particularly well out of his occasional appearances as Eleazar the Exorcist.
He then saw an opportunity to create some good returns from producing high-quality wine from new vineyards in Galilee, where conditions were perfect and land was cheap, and all was going well. But he had borrowed a bit too much, got involved in too many deals and made more enemies than he needed, so as soon as something went wrong it immediately led to other problems, and so on.
“The trouble is, babe, it will be a few years before there is much in the way of mature wine to sell from those vineyards I planted in Magdala, and my creditors are looking for substantial repayments right now.”
The intense nausea I felt at that point had nothing to do with what may or may not be growing inside me. I realised he was trying to tell me I could lose the farm where I had grown up, and in which I had invested so many years of toil and care. I wept.
He tried to comfort me but I pushed his arm away. We sat in silence for a while. Eventually I told him to go away, but I didn’t say I never wanted to see him again. I said I wanted to see him again when he knew exactly what the legal position was and how much was involved. Despite the setback I felt clear headed and more in control than I had been for a long time. I will get this sorted out and then drop this flawed seducer. I sometimes think Jesus is deluded, but now I see he is no more deluded than Cyrus and has the advantage of being completely genuine.