The man followed them when they left his house, walking in the shadows through the streets of Jerusalem. He watched as they entered the garden. Then he crept in after them.
He heard their lowered voices as they talked. He saw the shadows shift and settle as they moved through the garden. The silence was immense. He slept.
He woke to the sound of more voices. The Teacher was speaking. A crowd of people entered the garden. One of them approached the Teacher and kissed him.
He heard the sound of a sword being drawn, a cry of pain. His eyes strained. A torch flared and he found himself looking at those hands again. They were pressed to the head of a servant. He thought he saw blood. The hands moved away.
He watched as men seized the Teacher and began to lead him away. He heard the rustle of leaves and quick footsteps all around him. A torch flared in his face, a hand grabbed at his clothes. He twisted out of them and ran.
She sat at the window of her spare, sparse home. The oil lamp had long been extinguished. She saw the people hurry past, heard their whispers. She rose, left her house and followed them.
She came to the courtyard of the High Priest’s house where a fire burned. Guards sat around it, warming their hands. She listened as they talked. Her eyes widened. She turned them to the windows of the building behind her.
She found a shadowy corner and settled herself to wait. She drew her cloak around her, looked to the fire. A man stood there with the guards. She knew his face. He had been there that day, outside the temple.
She watched a servant girl approach him, study his face, speak. He shook his head firmly. She watched him turn and walk away. She heard a cockerel crow.
He moved to the gate, where a crowd of people huddled. She watched as the servant girl walked up to them, spoke, nodded her head in his direction. She saw the man frown, shake his head again more violently. He strode away, came to a stop by her corner.
She waited, her eyes fixed on him. Some people who stood nearby spoke to him.
“Aren’t you one of those that followed Jesus? You’re from Galilee, aren’t you?”
She looked at him as he frowned and shouted,
“I tell you, I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”
A cockerel crowed. She watched his face fall. He looked wildly about him. She stepped out of the shadows and their eyes met. As his tears began to fall, she remembered the eyes of the Teacher.
The man untied his donkey, climbed on and set out on the journey to Jerusalem. He followed the crowds until they stopped moving. They swarmed in huge numbers, swelling the courtyard.
Stretching up, he saw the governor standing, addressing the people. He watched as two men were led out by the guards. He knew one of them – the man who had borrowed his donkey stood with his hands bound together.
As the governor spoke, the crowds began to cheer. He saw men moving through the crowd, speaking into the ears of the people as they went. His eyes flicked between the two prisoners who stood on the platform.
He watched as the prisoner he didn’t know had his bonds released and walked away. He watched as the guards raised their whips to the prisoner who remained. He heard the crowd roar as the man who had borrowed his donkey was beaten before their eyes. He closed his eyes. The cheers echoed in his ears.
She followed the procession from the palace to the hill. She saw him through the bruises and the blood, watched him struggle with every step. In her hands, she carried the alabaster jar.
She found a way through the crowd so that she could stand as close to him as was allowed when they stopped. She knew he didn’t know she was there – she was too far away. She bit her lips and kept her eyes open as they hammered in the nails. She didn’t want him to be alone.
She stayed as the sun rose higher and felt the heat on her back. She saw the soldiers throw lots for his possessions. She was there when the sign was hung above his head: KING OF THE JEWS. She stood and faced the passers by who mocked and insulted him.
Three hours later, she was there when the sky grew black and the darkness settled. For another three hours, she stayed in the shadows. She heard him cry out.
“My God, my God – why have you forsaken me?”
She saw him drink from the sponge dipped in vinegar. She was looking at his face when he cried out a moment later.
As he died, the jar slipped from her hands.
He offered to stay in the temple. He went there that morning as he did every day. He smoothed down his robes, made sure all was in order, everything as it should be.
He did not think of the man who was dying on the hill.
When the sky darkened, he went to the holy of holies to pray. He stayed there for three hours, on his knees.
As he prayed, he heard a ripping sound behind him. He stood and turned, his eyes widened and his mouth fell open. The curtain had torn in two.