Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hair (07/04/19)
The thought rings through my head as they drag me from the small, dirt-floored hut near the millstone. The Philistine scum reek of alcohol, the smell assaulting my nose. Chains snap onto my wrists, an attempt to keep this pathetic sheep docile. Why they bother, I know not. I am not the man they fear. They cut my hair. They took my strength.
I failed the LORD. I have failed my people.
I should never have pursued her.
They drag me to their temple. At least, I think it is. The smell burns my lungs, profane fumes of foreign sacrifices assaulting my senses. The smell reminds me of a girl I had known, a girl I had married in a time that seems so long ago. Channa had taken me to her temple once. I should not have followed her there, into Dagon’s home. She had been beautiful, but she had been a foreigner. A Philistine. I should have never pursued her. And yet I did. And she paid for it. I never regretted that before. I didn’t learn from it, either. Losing my eyes seems to have given me perspective.
They noise of the people cheering at me rolls over me, raucous laughter tearing at my ears. I’m presented like a trophy. A captured lion. Someone jabs me in the side. Instinctively, I swing out, my fist hitting nothing but air. Staggering, I try my best to not fall flat. More laughter tears through the room, and I stumble back to where they had placed me.
“Behave yourself, beloved.” Delilah’s voice is like poisoned honey as she steps closer, and the smell of myrrh and cyprus pouring over me. I remember that smell being enchanting once. I remember the smooth feeling of her lips, the taste of oil and honey and lust. How quickly it had turned sour. “After all, you’re ours now.” I can hear her laugh, feel her hand run through my hair, feel her pause as she realizes how long it’s grown back. And then she turns, the barely audible noise of bare feet on stone, to face the crowd. Some speech pours from her lips to the lords of the Philistines about how she, a simple woman, had brought down the great and mighty Sampson, scourge of her people.
“Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests,” I say, my voice a whisper, “that I may lean against them.” The boy holding my hand, who has been guiding me here and there, hesitates. He doesn’t seem to be afraid not of me, but of the lords and priests over him. After a moment, he leads me to the pillars, setting my hands on each. I lean out on them, letting myself relax for a moment.
Delilah’s speech is finishing, describing the cutting of my hair. I bow my head, close what remain of my eyes. A deep breath draws into my lungs. “O Lord God,” my voice cuts into Delilah’s final words. I can feel all eyes turn to me. Whispers ripple in the crowd. “Please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God,” a gasp shoots out, and I hear chairs scraping, people scrambling to their feet. “That I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Paniced voices call for my head, and I push outwards on the pillars. “Let me die with the Philistines!” My voice is raw as the cry leaves my lips. A familiar fire roars through my arms as I push, the pillars crumbling at my regained strength. As the stone roof collapses on top of us, my mind flashes back to a story my father used to tell, of a man who saved our people in the past. Ehud had killed a king to save our people, and become a legend.
I have killed many kings now. Surely I will be remembered as great.
The thought is a cold comfort as the weight slams into my chest, and Sheol consumes me.
FOOTNOTE: This is a work of fiction. Judges 16:23-31 is the passage this story draws from.
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