“Evil can dig in its roots anywhere and can take on many forms. Smart people know that. Kenahara.”
July. Israel. Iraq War vet and graduate archeologist Harper Jennings doesn’t believe in the Evil Eye. So when Hagit—the woman assigned to show her and her fourteen-month-old baby around Jerusalem—drags the pair of them into a market to buy charms to ward off evil, it isn’t the bad luck Harper fears but the market itself. Close, dark and crowded, the place worries Harper, and when an American mand seems to be in trouble, it is only the presence of the baby that stops Harper from wading in to help.
Later, to Harper’s dismay, she leans that the man she’d seen has been murdered. So when she’s invited to take part in a dig fifty miles away, while her geologist husband Hank takes part in the international symposium on water shortages that has brought them to Israel, she accepts. It will be safer away from the city and the market, she thinks. But Hagit, who’s coming along to look after the baby, disagrees. She is convinced that the Evil Eye has caught sight of Harper, and that it will follow her wherever she goes…
All around her, women prayed, their heads bowed and covered. Some stuffed pieces of paper into small cracks and crevices between rocks. Harper Jennings stood at the Western Wall of the Old City in Jerusalem, holding her hand flat against a stone block in the structure. It felt rough, sturdy, solid. Ancient. It had kept its place for over two thousand years, outlasting invaders, empires, cultures, gods. Harper pressed her fingers against it, less interested in the bustling women around her than in the inanimate wall, its past. Who had cut the stone, hauled it, placed it there? And what had it seen—worshipers, warriors, centuries of change? How many other hands had touched it? Millions? Her hand on the stone, Harper felt connected to all of them, a chain of hands and shadows of hands, linked by a rock through ages.
But Harper couldn’t linger; Hagit had the baby, and she didn’t know Hagit very well. Following the practice of the other women, she moved away from the wall without turning her back to it, a sign of respect. When she was sufficiently distant, she looked around and saw Hagit and Chloe, holding hands, waiting for her.
Harper went to them, swept Chloe up, got a joyous squeal.
“Did you put in a prayer?” Hagit nodded at the wall.
“In the cracks. Didn’t you see? People put prayers on paper and leave them in the wall.”
“I saw them,” Harper tussled Chloe’s curls. Kissed her warm round cheek.
“I’ll wait.” Hagit held out a pen and scrap of paper. “Go—Put it between the stones. Write down a prayer and leave it there. It’s supposed to be like a—a what do you call it? A mailbox? No--Like Fedex for God.”
“Even if you’re not religious, it wouldn’t hurt--”