One day, Gabriel goes to Jacob-called-Israel, carrying a message from the Lord. Jacob is busy in the fields, but Leah is there—she smiles at him with tender eyes, and makes him welcome in the shade of Jacob’s tent. I will find you meat and drink,she says, giving her infant daughter to Gabriel’s arms easily, the gesture practiced as habit. Rest a while here. We shall send Jacob to you when he comes.
She leaves Gabriel there, child heavy in his arms.
Dinah—for that is the child’s name—has large, dark eyes, and grasps at his halo like it is a plaything. Once or twice, she pulls it over Gabriel’s ears and into her mouth, gumming at the edge and whimpering when it cuts her lips. You are a strange little thing, Gabriel tells her, touching a finger to the soft shell of her ear. She is all softness, even the dusting of dark hair across her pate.
It is nearly sundown by the time Jacob comes, and Dinah has fallen asleep against Gabriel’s chest. He returns her to Leah’s arms then, so that he and Jacob might conference with one another.
His own arms seem emptier, after.
It seems only a little while later he is walking in Shechem, when he passes a woman—no different than any other woman in the street, except that her eyes are large and dark, full of an inherited tenderness, and there is a place where her mouth tucks in, as though it were cut by the sharp, celestial edge.
Dinah, Gabriel says, faltering. He almost does not recognize her, this woman who is flint and sun and nothing of softness. It had not seemed so long by the reckoning of angels, but—he can see ruin in her wake now, grief and strength in her visage.
She stops. Do you know me? Dinah asks.
I—no. No, I do not know you, Gabriel says, for angels do not lie.