Keeping Samson – Diana Rohlman
Samson stands beside the village well, muscles bulging as he lifts a bucket, water spilling over the edges. The bucket is easily four times the size of the largest bucket. It normally takes five men to lift it. Samson does it while flirting with three women.
In the distance, Delilah watches, her arms akimbo as Samson claims a kiss from each woman before pouring water into buckets more suited for their delicate frames.
Casting covetous looks over their shoulders, admiring his physique, bared to the waist, the women finally leave.
Samson watches them leave with a regretful look before turning his steps back towards Delilah.
He throws open the door, calling for her. “Delilah! Where are you?”
Delilah meets him at the door, love and jealousy warring within her. She knows her sharp words and rebukes will only drive him away, but the hurt is too great.
“I am here,” she says quietly, but her eyes spit fire. “Where I always am, while you flirt and seduce other women.”
Samson reaches for her, wraps his fingers in her long blond hair. “I do not love them,” he begins, but Delilah steps backwards, heedless of the strands of hair still caught in his hand.
“I made your dinner,” she says. Once she thought she could build a home, a life that would keep him comfortably bound to her. Now, though she served him lovingly crafted meals, kept his house and warmed his bed, she knows it is not enough.
“What can I do to keep you?” she whispers, but Samson does not hear. He sits at the small table, built for two, and carelessly eats the fine dinner she had made. Her delicate manners are a perfect foil to his quick, gulping bites.. She has no appetite.
“I love you.” Delilah reaches across the small table, her body only inches from his, but distance gapes between them.
Samson finishes his dinner and flashes her a bright grin. “I love you too,” he says. “Those other women, they see only my strength. You,” he said tenderly, one strong finger tipping up her chin. “You see me.” He touches his lips gently to hers, his hand caressing her hair. “I will never leave you,” he reassures her.
Delilah relaxes, melting into his touch, his words warming the icy apprehension coiled within her belly. She smiles at him, heaps more food on his plate.
A woman walks by their window, her shapely form casting a dark shadow over the table. Samson leans back in his chair, his gaze admiring.
The woman looks in the window and smiles slowly. Samson smiles back.
Pain streaks through Delilah, burning her eyes, her cheeks, her belly. Indifferent, Samson kisses her goodbye and leaves.
Delilah bites her lip to keep from crying and cleans his plate, her actions slow and methodical. She cleans her plate next, the uneaten food tumbling into the waste bin.
The long evening stretches solitary before her. She can think only of Samson, of keeping Samson home, with her. Unbidden, a list of chores trundles through her mind, the unceasing tasks providing a measure of calm.
Samson had asked for more arrows, she remembers. He would be pleased to see a neat collection of freshly fletched arrows. Delilah settles down to work, but stops when she sees the bundle of bowstrings. She would bind him to her. She smiles and drops the arrows.
That night Samson falls asleep quickly, minutes after stumbling through the door, strong arms flung carelessly across their bed. His hair, so thick and long, spreads across the pillows. He sleeps so deeply he does not feel the thin bowstrings Delilah winds about his body, pinning his prostrate form to the bed.
When she finally finishes, she falls into bed beside him, one hand cupping his unbound face.
In the morning Samson stretches and the bowstrings break with an audible snap. He pulls his black hair back into a leather thong, smiles, and kisses Delilah. She wants to cry when she sees the destroyed bowstrings.
Samson shakes his head, amused at her attempt. “You know those can’t hold me.”
Delilah manages a laugh, but the pain burns through her, until she wants to scream. Delilah pushes the pain down, hides the raging jealousy behind a soft smile and liquid eyes, lovingly preparing a sumptuous breakfast.
Perhaps today he would see the error of his ways. Perhaps. It is a prayer she has offered up far too many times.
Samson eats hastily, the delicate morsels washed down with a pitcher of ale. He kisses her loudly, one hand patting her bottom familiarly, and he leaves again.
Once more his feet take him to the village well, where he entertains women, young and old, with tales of his strength, his courage, and his virility.
A brazen young woman sits in his lap, twining her hands through his long hair, nuzzling his neck as he speaks. She holds her head so close to his that the strands of their hair intertwine, creating a beautiful pattern of black and bronze hair.
Another woman sits at his feet, a damp rag in her hands to lave the dust from his legs. Her hands are entirely too generous as she applies the cloth.
Towards noon Delilah enters the village square, pushing her way through the women until she stands before Samson. She holds a checkered cloth, bulging with freshly cooked meats and breads for his lunch meal. He thanks her effusively, bestowing upon her the same sweet words and compliments he gives the others.
Delilah cannot bear the pitying looks of the other women. They pity her even as they desire him. She leaves quickly, though she holds her head high, challenging any woman that would dare confront her. All but the most brash refuse to meet her eyes.
She does not go home, but watches from a small hill as Samson tosses aside the meal she had brought him in favor of fresh baked pastries from fresh-faced young girls that giggle and fawn over his empty words.
That night, his slumber once more deep, Delilah binds him with heavy rope, pulling the knots tight, until the coarse fibers tear her hands, staining the ropes with her blood.
She awakens to the sound of rope ripping, the strands fragmenting and tearing. Samson stands beside their bed, the rope fallen at his feet.
“That’s not enough to contain my strength,” he says with a laugh, shaking loose his hair.
He clucks over her torn palms, kissing them with soft lips. He does not stay for breakfast. When he goes to the village square, Delilah does not bring him his midday meal. This time, he does not come home for supper.
Standing in their doorway Delilah can see him walk away with another woman whose hips swing loosely beneath her skirts.
He comes home, but he smells of another woman.
She does not sleep. Her thoughts are frantic, turbulent. She cannot comprehend a life without him.
In the morning she leaves before he wakes. Hiding her face with her shawl, she goes to Mother Balak.
Mother Balak is an ancient woman, one who swears to know ancient mysteries and mystical secrets–all for a price.
She opens the door a scant inch when Delilah knocks. Beady, knowing eyes pierce Delilah.
“Pay first,” the crone demands.
Delilah hands her the coins, her fingers trembling. The exchange grants her access to a small room, pungent with incense and thick, smoky candles.
The pillows are tattered yet plush. She sits gratefully across from Mother Balak. She does not bother with small talk.
“I am afraid Samson will leave me.” She speaks plainly, yet her desperation is achingly clear.
“How do I keep him?”
“Why are you losing him?” Mother Balak asks. Delilah flushes.
“The women flock to his strength, his virility. They do not see the man, only the legend. He encourages their attentions.”
Mother Balak closes her eyes, rocking in her nest of pillows. Delilah waits, feeling foolish for having come to the little old woman. She is about to leave when the crone’s eyes snap open.
“His strength comes from his hair,” Mother Balak says. “Cut his hair, and his strength is gone.”
Delilah stares, but Mother Balak says no more.
Hours after Samson has succumbed to slumber, Delilah takes a small knife and carefully, carefully clips and snips his hair, thick locks falling on the sheets beneath him. When she is finally done she lays beside him, curving her slight body around his larger frame.
When he wakes, Samson stands and stretches and runs his hand through his hair. When he feels instead a smooth scalp, he grows pale and shouts.
“What have you done?”
Delilah wakes slowly, feeling her newfound strength burgeon within her. Her eyes, no longer inflamed with jealousy, are now tinted with avarice.
Her blond hair is intimately woven through with long strands of Samson’s hair. The black shines against the blond, gleaming in the early morning light.
Samson stares in horror as Delilah advances upon him.
She runs possessive fingers over his head before embracing him. The strength that once thrummed through Samson now surges within her.
“You’ll never leave me now,” she says, her arms tight around Samson.
Over his shoulder she sees a young man, his form lithe and sensuous, walking toward the village well.
Samson cries after her as she leaves, her hips beginning to sway beneath her skirts.
Diana Rohlman lives in the Pacific Northwest, invariably spending the rainy days inside, writing, with a glass of wine nearby, and her dog offering helpful critiques. Her website can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/rohlmandiana