This past weekend I had the privilege of going to Writers’ Weekend at the Beach in Ocean Park, Washington. I loved being able to network with the small group of writers, learn from my first critique sessions, and have time to write. One of the activities was a first hundred word contest. I started a story that I decided to share with you all. It will be a continued story spanning throughout this week and finishing on Resurrection Sunday! I hope it will give you a fresh look at Holy Week and maybe something to share with your family as you celebrate.
The young urchin inhaled the scent of myrtle wood. It reminded him of Momma. The thought of her always brought pain. He pushed the memories down and listened to the night sounds of frogs and locusts. Curling up to go to sleep under the boughs of the tree, an odd noise caught his attention. He peered out from the darkness. A group of men carrying torches marched by his hiding place. After they passed, he crawled out and followed them.
“What could they be after?” he wondered.
As the mob stopped, he scurried up a tree to see and not to be seen. The sight surprised him. The men had come to a halt in a clearing in the garden. Olive and myrtle trees gave way to grass. On the grass thirteen men stood. Several seemed to have just awakened from a nap, confusion registered on their faces, while the firelight flickered off their brown eyes. Several women huddled in a group off to the side. The boy couldn’t imagine what the mob wanted with so few men and women.
Movement caught his eye. A man dressed in a tunic with an overcoat stepped out of the crowd and walked forward. His steps showed purpose and familiarity with the area and the group waiting.
“Rabbi,” the man said, greeting one who stood in the center waiting almost as if he had expected his little party to be interrupted.
“Friend, do what you came to do,” the teacher replied.
His voice carried over the sound of the frogs in the distance, over the shuffling of the feet of the crowd, and through the glade. The young lad in the tree froze. He had heard that voice before once long ago. He had no opportunity to think of the memory for a sudden movement tore his attention back to the clearing. The crowd moved forward as one. The lead men seized the man with the gentle voice, turned him around, and held his hands behind his back. In the same instant, a short, burly man with dark curly hair bound forward drawing a dagger and swung at the other man’s head. The boy couldn’t see what happened, but the man with the kind voice turned around, reached out and touched the other’s ear. A collective gasp went up from those around the teacher.
“Shimon,” the voice that evoked memories in the urchin said for all to hear, “put your dagger away. Even now, I could ask Father and he would send messengers to rescue me.” The teacher turned to the crowd. “Every day, I was among you teaching, and you did nothing. But now you come at night with swords and sticks.”
The mob reacted instantly with more surrounding the teacher and grabbing him. The women and the teacher’s friends scattered into the garden. The boy sat in his tree unmoving. Fear coursed through his veins. If the crowd would take this respected teacher, what would they do with a homeless street kid? He watched from his perch as the men pushed the teacher in front of them out through the trees of the garden. Once the lights moved passed him and he could only hear the march of feet but not see them, he slid out of the tree and followed at a safe distance.
Questions swirled in his head much like flies buzzing around the meat market. Who would want to take the teacher? Why would they march him off? Where were they taking him? What about his friends? Had they all deserted him? As he contemplated these questions without answers, he moved silently, accustomed to sneaking around people and not being heard or seen.
“Achim,” he whispered to himself, “you’ve been in many scrapes in the past, but this one beats all.”