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|Harlot (standard:other, 2819 words)|
|Author: A.M. Snead||Added: Oct 21 2002||Views/Reads: 2417/1750||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|When a young woman is caught in bed with a prominate man, she is certain he will explain that she is to be his wife. But too suddenly she learns that he and his men have other plans for her.|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story Humiliation for what she was . . and for believing something so wonderful- someone so wonderful- could happen to a woman like herself. If there was a god- he didn't know she existed. And even if he did, he didn't care. She hung her head in shame, hating herself for it as dark chuckles filtered through the men. The hands gripping her arms squeezed tight, digging their fingers in painfully, bruising her flesh. One man grabbed the back of her head and shoved her forward, pulling her hair viciously. Jez cried out and hot tears rushed down her cheeks as she was dragged outside. Though it was still morning, the sun was hot and seared her pupils as she squeezed her eyes shut and stumbled forward blindly. She could hear the growing murmur of a crowd. Were they gathered to watch her punishment? The rumble of the crowd roared in her ears as her bare heel came down on a sharp stone and twisted painfully. She went down hard, pulling free of the men's hands by surprise. She huddled there on the ground as dust rose around her naked body. Gripping shame and humiliation kept her eyes from opening. She felt someone reach down and pick up the stone that had tripped her, and knew it would be used against her a second time. The rough hands that had dragged her from the room, clutched her arms, her throat, her hair. "Get up, whore." Someone growled in her ear as she was yanked to her feet. Dust and grime clung to her damp, naked skin in a gritty film. Her long hair hung down over her face as they shoved their way through the hoard of people, and she was thankful for the veil. She didn't want to look these people in the face, couldn't bear to see the reality of who she was in their eyes. Hadn't that always been her reasoning for watching the dusty ground as she walked through the town- so as not to be confronted with her true worthlessness in the faces of those she passed? Another reality, she knew, was clearly etched in their countenance as well; the reality that no one was going to take her away from all this . . that she would leave this world as she'd come into it- unwanted and unloved. The shade of the temple slid over her exposed body like a cool hand, and she shivered. I don't want to be here, she thought with a shudder. A plea for them not to do this here trembled on her dust-caked lips, but she pulled it back. They wanted her to beg and plead. Why had they brought her here? To expose her shame to a god they professed to worship? When, in truth, it was man's traditions they worshipped? Still, she was terrified to be here, broken and humiliated beneath the scrutinizing eyes of the Jewish god. _________________________ She saw only his dusty, sun darkened feet as the men threw her to the hard, dusty floor of the temple, in the very midst of the swelling crowd. She pressed her cheek against the cool brick and closed her eyes as she inhaled the dust into her lungs, her flushed, tear streaked face well hidden beneath her dark veil of hair. Her arms and legs curled inward in likeness as she must have laid curled in her mother's womb, unaware of the hell she would soon be born into. Another hell awaited her now- that she did believe in. Her ankle throbbed and her arms ached from the fierce grips the men had held her with. But it all seemed unimportant in the face of her burning shame as she huddled naked before all to see. The voices around her sounded distant and muffled as she stared through the dark strands of her hair at the dusty feet, unable to look away. She had the odd certainty that this man was the reason they'd brought her here . . but why? A single voice- the voice of one of the men who had thrown her to the ground- rose above the murmurs of the crowd, and silence sifted over the people gathered there. She barely heard the question directed to the man whose feet she couldn't take her eyes off of. It made no difference what he was asking. For her- the results would be the same. For who could rescue one caught in their sin? Who would even try? She swallowed through a swollen throat as she slowly focused in on the callused words passing through the morning air above her. " . . . caught in the act of adultery. Moses commanded that such as she should be stoned." There was a noticeable pause as he seemed to calculate his words. "What do you say we should do, Master?" The cynicism in his voice as he used the word Master rang clear in Jez's ears. Whoever this man was that they were calling master was not held in high regard by Joseph's men. Why had they brought her to him? We can use her. She frowned at the remembered words of one of the Pharisees. Use her for what? The teacher this crowd had gathered to listen to, didn't answer the question thrust at him. Instead, he sank down on his heels and began to write in the thick layer of dust with his finger. Jez raised her head a bit and watched him through her hair. It was as if he hadn't heard the question, but how could he have not? She watched his hand, a sudden longing to raise her eyes to his face. A strange fear kept her gaze low. A fear unlike any other she'd ever felt. Not fear of condemnation . . but fear of disappointment, of looking in his eyes and feeling, as well as seeing, his disappointment in her. But she didn't know this man, and he didn't know her. And even if he did, he would know her for what she was and have no reason to expect anything more of her than this. She'd never been anything more than this. "Master." A hardness cracked the edge of the Pharisee's voice as the strange teacher didn't appear to acknowledge his presence in the temple. "I asked you- what do you say we should do to this woman for her sins? Should we stone her, as Moses commanded?" Don't answer- they're trying to trick you. The thought came to her out of nowhere, unbidden. And yet, she knew she was right. They hated this man for whatever it was he represented, and they were trying to catch him in his words. They wanted to discredit him before all the people. He rose slowly to his feet. Jez wondered if he knew what they were trying to do, and suspected he did. It was in his mannerism. The Pharisees had a way of striking fear into the hearts of men. But this man wasn't afraid of them, their questions, or the purpose behind the questions. She could taste dirt, feel its grit between her teeth. She realized she was holding her breath, as was the whole crowd, as she waited to hear what he would say. He couldn't save her life, this she understood. Death still awaited her, and she was terrified. And for a moment, that fear threatened to close down her thoughts, her ears to all sounds. But she forced it back and held it at bay with sheer will; she had to hear what this man would say. Jez could literally feel his eyes lower to her, feel his gaze touch her skin. And it was warm, like a gentle breeze. "This woman is a sinner." He said softly, without accusation. Jez trembled. There was something wonderful in the timbre of his voice, a tenderness she'd never heard on the lips of any human being. She felt his eyes leave her to sweep over the crowd. "Who among you is without sin?" he wondered, as if he were truly curious. "Let him come forth . . and cast the first stone." Jez tensed, waiting for the cutting force of a hurled stone, the fierce pain it would bring with it. The amazing teacher said nothing more as he stooped back down and began tracing his finger through the dust again. What are you writing? She wondered somewhere deep in her mind as she waited, her naked body rigid, for the crowd to begin their onslaught. But not a single stone touched her bare skin. Instead, she heard a soft thud as something dropped to the ground. Then another, and another. Thud . . Thud . . Thud She heard the slow shuffle of feet, quiet murmurs that gradually faded until only silence remained. Silence- and the man writing in the dust. Jez raised her head slowly until her chin was just a bare inch off the dusty floor of the temple; the crowd was gone. She looked up uncertainly at the man before her. His eyes were on the ground as he continued to trace his finger across it, and again she wondered what he was writing. He didn't seem aware that the crowd of people had left them. She studied his face; he wasn't comely. And yet she'd never seen a more beautiful man, and knew she never would. He looked up slowly and caught her eyes before she could look away. It seemed to her in that instant that this man had been formed around the sun itself, unable to contain its light- for it seemed to shine out through his crystalline eyes, through every pore in his body. And even when he glanced behind her where the crowd had been gathered just moments ago, she couldn't take her eyes off his face. Then he came to her and wrapped a cloak around her bare shoulders, covering her shame. "Woman." The sweet tenderness in his voice as he spoke that one word that men often used to put a woman in her place, implied not arrogant superiority- though he possessed the wisdom and knowledge to evade with ease the Pharisee's traps. "Where are those who accuse you?" he wondered as curiously as when he'd asked the crowd who among them was without sin. "Does no man condemn you?" Jez crawled to her feet slowly as he took her hand and lifted her up. And as she rose, she felt her shame and humiliation fall away like the dust she'd been laying in. Her wondering eyes moved through the empty temple. "No man, Lord." She breathed out in quiet amazement. His clear eyes glowed with tenderness as a gentle smile touched his lips. "Neither do I condemn you." He touched her tear streaked face with light fingertips. No man had ever touched her with such a depth of love as this man did. She could feel it tingle her skin and knew that, no matter how often or thoroughly she cleansed her face, the sensation would never fade. "Now go . . and sin no more." The crowd gradually drifted back in as she left the temple, and when she finally looked back, the people were packed beneath roof of the temple once again, seeming to flow outward. And it was something she understood, for she herself had no desire to go. But she had something to do. This man had taken her life in his hands, cleansed it of the shame and degradation, and offered it back to her. Now it was time for her to reclaim it. She walked down the dusty street, cloak pulled tightly around her body, head held high as she somehow understood that simply meeting this incredible man, being pardoned by his wisdom and love, had made her someone more important than Joseph's truest love could have ever done. The temple was behind her when she thought sadly, I didn't even ask who he was. As if answering the question never voiced, the Master's tender admission reached over the crowd and touched her welcome ears, and she knew this man- not Joseph- was the one she'd sensed would come and lift her out of the shameful, degrading life of the harlot. "I am the light of the world: He that follows me shall not walk in darkness, But shall have the light of life." ~ The End ~ 1 5 Snead~ Harlot Page Tweet
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