Her eyes are dead.
Seen too much murder disguised as punishment.
She stands, washes, tries to convince herself it is worth getting up today.
She spots the bundle by the door.
Scoops it up, feels the weight and that shiver down her spine.
Leaves the house and joins the shadows outside.
Just another shadow moving amongst those etchings of moonlight.
With every step her feet make a thud in the dirt.
She’s always been heavy footed, but this morning her walking sounds like a series of hammer blows.
Thud. Another shiver down the spine.
She had a dream once, it flashed through her mind when she felt a hand lift her out of the dirt.
As she heard stones dropping her life raced before her eyes.
It was a full life, a future suddenly bright.
Hope transmitted in a stranger’s smile.
Now the dream lies in bits, like broken furniture in a room of arguments and bad memories.
Thud. More steps. More shivers.
She sees another shadow, fears the worst.
But then the figure nods and the woman whispers.
They walk on together, she’s more aware than ever that her steps scuff and pound the earth.
The other woman is so light on her feet, barely makes a sound.
Another shadow appears, and another.
Soon there is a group of silent witnesses.
Any other trip and they’d have been verbally elbowing each other out of the way to make conversation.
But not here, not now.
There’s been little sleep amongst them, barely four hours between them.
Their eyes all carry death in them.
Preparing themselves for the sight they must confront.
She presses the bundle closer to her body.
One or two of the others have similar bundles.
They stop, catch sight of the place in the moonlight.
The ground shudders. She thinks at first it’s lack of sleep. But the others clearly feel it too.
There’s a door stone lying loose and skewed, and a cave mouth yawning like an open dragon’s den.
Soldiers huddle nearby, they grunt and mutter. But they make no move towards the women.
The women shuffle forward and look inside the dragon’s mouth.
There is no monster. But then… there is nothing at all.
When they look outside they see the soldiers lying like corpses, faces pushed into the ground.
Then the light hits them.
A figure, dazzling as if lit by a thousand torches, sits astride the loose door stone.
He speaks and his voice has the sound of a rushing river. Like a hundred shining figures.
Phrases like ‘been raised’ ‘was crucified’ ‘don’t be afraid’ ‘not here’ hang in the air like wisps of mist.
The figure urges them into the cave. They look, but don’t see, not yet.
They turn and run, all their feet pounding heavily now, their bundles left behind, and the spark of life beginning to force the look of death from their eyes.