Ordinary people. The people who run errands, who serve with or without complaint. They see things, carry secrets of what they’ve seen; sometimes they tell, sometimes they don’t. But they have stories too.
My feet hurt. And so would yours if you’d been in and out, up and down the stairs all day. The inn is packed.
“Clean this floor.” “Water from the well!” Chava fusses from sunrise to past midnight.
My feet hurt and I’d like to sit down but one of the men in front right is yelling. There’re six in that room, meant for two. Bethlehem is like an ant’s nest with the census: jammed to the skies and seething with bodies, many of them drunk.
And then Moishe has to rent the stable – I ask you, the stable! – to a young couple just because she’s pregnant. I had to clear old straw and hay out of that rat hole. At least we’ve no cattle in there this week. I’m no stable hand to be mucking out, no matter what the reason. And then Chava yells for water and rags to be taken down there as if the baby were coming this minute.
There’s no peace in this world and here I am, taking yet more water back there. The lane beside the inn is steep and dark and if I cut my feet I’ll demand extra money.
The man meets me at the stable-mouth, takes the water without a word of thanks. I peer in. She’s in the straw alright, crouched and bent forward, her back to me, straining … … I catch a glimpse before the man blocks my view.
There’ll be a baby here tonight. And maybe I helped,
and maybe the straw should have been cleaner, and
maybe I should have scrubbed the manger harder to
put the baby in. Oh well. But where there’s a new
baby … I’ve Zeke two years old, bless his heart,
with another on the way.
I’m coming, Chava, I’m coming. But my feet hurt …