TITLE: Caught and Released (edited)
By Jess Godwin
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But, I've rewritten the fiction part too, so any help is appreciated!
The sun began to peek over the city walls as they shoved me down the already busy streets. Roosters crowed, dogs barked, and the people plotted what would happen when we reached wherever it was they were taking me. Some of the men gathered up stones as they followed. I clung to my tunic, trying hopelessly to straighten it. My hair cascaded around my shoulders, and my tears picked up the dust of the road. I heard someone say the name of the Galilean teacher, and how I was just the thing they needed. Not Jesus!
I spotted a gap in the crowd, and tried to run, but the people moved in closer and blocked my escape. I fell and curled into a ball, hoping that they would just leave me there. I tasted dirt and tears, along with the salty sweet, metallic taste of blood. Someone jerked me to my feet, and they drove me on, ever mindful of where we were going. Some faces looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t single out any one person that I recognized. Even the guy they found me with was gone.
Gone? Caught! How could I be so stupid? I should have realized it was all a trap to catch Jesus. They’ll sacrifice me to get Him. Two for the price of one. Why me? Why now? Why Him? I wish they’d just stone me and get it over with. I wish they were taking me to anyone but Him!
We finally reached the temple steps, and I was shoved to the ground at Jesus’ feet. The leader of the group spoke, and I could hear the smug satisfaction in His tone, as if he were certain that this plan was foolproof.
“Teacher, we caught this woman in the act of adultery. Moses says that one like her should be stoned. What do you say?”
I held my breath and waited for Jesus to say something—anything that would give them the permission they sought. But, He didn’t say a word. He just looked down and drew in the sand.
I couldn’t stand to look Him in the eyes. There was something in the way He looked at me that shook me up inside. It was like He could see everything I’d ever done, but like He knew the person I was before any of this happened, back when I was pure. Pure. I can barely remember what it felt like to be clean and innocent. He can’t possibly know all that I’ve done. If He did, He’d look at me with the same mixture of disdain and desire that all the other men do.
Jesus looked at the crowd and spoke for the first time.
“If any of you has never sinned, be the first to throw a stone.”
My body tensed, waiting for the assault. When I heard the first dull thud of a stone, I knew it was all over. I was going to die. But there was no pain. One by one, the stones thudded to the ground. I looked up to see why they weren’t hitting me.
The men stared at Jesus, and I could read the shock in their faces. Surely it mirrored my own. One by one, the men turned and walked away. Jesus just watched them leave. When the last one was gone, He spoke to me.
“Is there anyone here who is still accusing you?”
“N-no.” I slowly looked up and met His gaze.
He knew. He knew everything, but there was something in His eyes that I’d never seen from any man before.
“I don’t accuse you either.”
Did He realize what He was saying? He knew that I was guilty. I could see it in His eyes that He knew I’d been doing just what they said, but He was telling me that He didn’t accuse me; He wasn’t going to stone me. How could He say that? I deserved to die, and there He was, smiling and offering my life back to me.
I’d grown so accustomed to men looking at me with lust and barely restrained hatred. They saw themselves in me, and they hated me for it. But this was different. Jesus looked at me with compassion and forgiveness, two things I’d never seen before.
He reached out His hand to help me up. I couldn’t believe that He was touching me. Jesus was the only man in years to touch me in a way that wasn’t suggestive of something more. I felt so safe with Him, like I could trust Him with every part of my life, even the parts of my past that I wasn’t willing to share with anyone I knew.
“Go home, and don’t sin any more.”
Could it really be that simple? “Go home and stop sinning?” I could have my life back just like that? I would be forgiven if I just did what He said? Part of me wanted there to be something more, but I knew that the “something more” would be death, and I didn’t want to die.
I slowly straightened my tunic and covered my hair. I looked cautiously around, just incase there was still someone intent on drawing blood.
Slowly I began walking the roads home, going over everything that had just happened. I didn’t understand how I could feel so pure and whole. I didn’t have to wonder anymore how I was going to make it through one more day. My life had been given back to me, and there was hope. I smiled as I neared home, ready to begin this new part of my life.
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