It is cold out. One of those desert nights that just slightly stings the inside of my nose as I inhale, each breath a sharp reminder of my existence. I pull my cloak tighter around my shoulders, straining to get near the fire. This is not a dream, as much as I wish it was. I'm trying to push his words out of my mind. Trying to think of anything else.
He clearly wasn't in his right mind. Who knows how long it's been since he has slept. It's like he doesn't know who I am anymore. One minute we're sitting together sharing the Passover meal, the next he's talking about his blood and body and betrayal. One minute we're sitting in Gethsemane, praying with him, the next he's being arrested and dragged away. Judas. Betrayal. He said this would happen.
The wind kicks up, the fire flickers, and we all push closer. Soon the sun will be up, and I can get away from this crowd.
What are they doing to him in there? He's been with them for hours. How long could this possibly take? What wrong has he done?
"You were with Jesus. The man from Galilee."
Her voice is high pitched. Soft, but pointed. She knows who she is talking to. She is a servant girl, but her words are sharp. Not accusatory, but direct.
"I dont' know what you're talking about."
The words escape my lips before I even realize I am saying them. Will I be lumped in with him? Will they drag me off into the Sanhedrin along side of him? Heaven knows what they would do to me in there. He's a Rabbi. I'm a fisherman. They certainly won't show me as much mercy as they're showing him. Forgive me Jesus.
I breathe into my hands, pull my cloak tighter, and head toward another one of the fires. Standing around with that servant girl isn't going to do me any good. She'll just keep pressing the issue, and I don't need that right now. My Rabbi is on trial. I can't focus on much else.
"This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth."
Another servant girl. This time her words came louder, lightly laced with accusation.
"I promise, I don't know the man!"
What am I doing? I got out of a boat in the middle of a storm to go to this man. I cut a man's ear off for him. I have given my entire life to this Rabbi and his teachings for the last three years. What am I gaining by denying that? They've seen me with him. They know who I am. Forgive me Jesus.
The sun is beginning to wake. I can finally start to see without the aid of the fire, albeit not well. I shake a rock from my sandal and find an unattended fire. It's starting to die, but still, the warmth is comforting.
"You're one of them!" "You were with him!" "Your accent gives you away."
There are a multitude of them now. They've congregated around my fire and are unrelenting in their accusation. They know who I am. If word spreads much more, they may drag me in there. I can't fight them all. They'll overtake me. I'm in trouble if I don't get out of here.
"Damnit I swear to God I don't know him!"
The words hadn't finished leaving my tongue before I heard it. The rooster.
As I back away from them, the crowd parts, and I see him. They're taking him to Pilate. Bloody and bruised, his eyes pierce me. He's not angry with me. This look is different. It almost looks like pity. He is being drug from the Sanhedrin, has been beaten and who knows what else, and he is pitying me.
I quickly turn my gaze. I can't. It's too much. My entire body is shaking. The tears are hot, salty, and when paired with the nausea, my soul feels like it is dying. I wretch. What have I done? Dear God what have I done?
He was right. He said this would happen. Everything he's said would happen, has happened.
Forgive me Rabbi. I still love you. I really do.