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Harlot (standard:other, 2819 words)
Author: A.M. SneadAdded: Oct 21 2002Views/Reads: 2417/1750Story 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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 ~ 


5 Snead~ Harlot                                                         


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