There is a numbness inside. Nearly every day I've watched. Watched the cruel contortions of bodies gaping their last breath. Blood, water, sweat mingling...beginning as droplets...ending as puddles the size of which I've seen the children jump through in the streets. I used to walk around the corner to retch, but now I just turn away. Etching in the dirt with a stick, silently willing the screams to stop. You learn to drown out the labored last breaths, as the rhythm drones in and out. My father did it before me and I know nothing else. Nothing but watching death, wondering when my turn will come.
My mammoth arms pound. I no longer ache from the labor. You learn things through the years. How to push the rough hewn wood into the ground without splintering your fingers. You learn to feel for just the right spot before pounding.
So why was my stomach lurching as I held the tunic between my fingers. I had won the bet. It had no seam so we couldn't split it. Think of how much this would make in the marketplace. "The King of the Jews". I'm betting his followers would pay dearly to have just a little piece of their King with them.
I drew the garment over my cheeks to feel its softness, yes a nice piece of cloth. The stench of death no longer bothered me, but this was something different. As I pressed it to my face, the cries I had guarded against filled my mind. Usually screaming and cursing. But this man spoke about forgiveness. As nail hit marrow, "forgive them" he said. His face so close I could feel his labored breath as his mouth pushed out the words. The words reverberating, now stabbing. Panting I throw the tunic to the ground and collapse on the floor. I tear my garments in despair.
Earth shaking, I look up. He caught my eye. He must have. For my heart was stabbed to the core. In one instant I felt he saw everything, everything. And yet I saw love in His eyes.