A Roman officer brushes me to the side as dust swirls around the growing crowd of people. For the first time, I wonder if mother might have been right. Maybe this is no place for a boy of twelve.
I can see him now! My heart sinks in horror as my eyes take in the man before me. Blood drips from the lacerations covering his face. From his frail form, his robe hangs in shreds as his body slumps with more than just the weight of the cross on his back. He stumbles now and the crowd grows quiet.
I watch in horror as the Roman soldier grabs someone from the crowd and shoves him toward Jesus yelling orders at him. The man named Simon approaches Jesus and lifts the cross from his back. Their eyes meet and time stands still for one brief moment.
The air reverberates with the renewed drumming cries from the crowd as they mock Jesus for his weakness. Simon heaves the cross onto his shoulders and we fall in behind him as he slowly leads the procession up Golgothaís Hill.
The soldiers yell to each other as they work now. I hear a thud and the ground jolts with the impact of the cross as it drops into position. I feel sick but escape is no longer an option. The crowd squeezes in around me as I watch Ö and wait. Mother was right. I should not have come.
The crowd grows more restless now as time drags on. They move in closer and scoff at Jesus spitting and throwing things at him. The smell of blood and dirt turns my stomach.
The darkness in the hearts of those around me surprises me. Iím but a child. I know nothing of this kind of hatred. What has this man done that has angered them so? I hear a woman cry out behind me and turn to see Mary. Women join her in her loud lamenting as a means to comfort her.
Itís sometime nigh about the sixth hour now or so my stomach tells me. I dig in my pocket and pull out a chunk of bread I took from my motherís kitchen this morning. A wad of cheese fills my other pocket. I feel guilty eating in the midst of what is going on but Iím only a lad and canít deny my stomach of what it desires.
As I tear off a chunk of bread, the earth begins to shake. People panic and scream incoherently around me. The rocks tumble and the sky begins to darken. What has come upon us? God forgive us! I hear people cry. Lamenting for their sins, they press their faces against the moving earth as the sky grows darker by the second. I tremble and the bread lodges itself in my throat. A slow swig from my canteen manages to free it as I peer up at the sun. Only a sliver remains before it completely disappears. Total darkness now settles over the land.
I realize I have made a big mistake in coming and yell out for my brothers who I know are in the crowd somewhere, but my voice fails me. Chaos continues to reign though the earth has stopped shaking. Fear takes over my body rendering me immovable, so I sit in the darkness and wonderÖwhat next?
Every muscle in my body aches as the rocks grow sharp beneath my body. My mind races to discover a way out of this place. Why oh why did I come?
Wait! I can see something. A flicker of light pierces the darkness. I glance at the sun and see a bit of light appearing on the other side now. People gasp and begin to sit up; their eyes squinting as they adjust to the brilliant light once again.
Slowly, the hushed crowd turns changed eyes toward the man on the cross. Hearts that were filled with hatred before now fill with reverant fear.
Jesus lifts his head and calls out. And then itís over. Heís gone.
I pick my way through the crowd and run home where I belong. Home to my mother to tell her of the wrong I have done and to tell her of all I have seen. I have much to ponder.
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