The sacrifice

Time stood still as she watched on, immobile and scared. This could not be happening. How did they get there, to that moment of urgency, where decision hung heavy as rich velvet, threatening to fall, but also to be transformed into something endlessly more harmful. She pinched her arm to wake herself up- it could only be a nightmare. Her flesh hurt under her skin, signalling with a red spot where she must have pinched herself dozens of times. But nothing seemed to change; only time crept on slowly, taking them closer to that frozen frame of finality.

The crowd watched silently; merely occasional wails or guffaws broke the hushed stillness. She stared at their impassable faces, wondering how they could be so callous. What happened? Who turned their hearts to stones? How could they do this, when all he had done was love them? It all seemed so unreal that she kept looking from face to face, still hoping that something would happen to make them change their minds.

A quiet breeze was blowing through the gathered ones, who pressed against each other with increasing force, perhaps sensing the wrong they were doing in giving him up. They swayed and undulated like waves of doubt and indecision, but it all seemed very final to her. They had met, and discussed, and argued. They had taken their decision, and he had to go.

She desperately wanted to scream her sorrow into their faces, at the risk of putting herself to danger. She had to find a way to make them comprehend what they were doing- and how wonderful he was- he still was, standing there on his own, his hair playing with the fingers of the wind, his eyes scanning the crown, not accusingly, not even sadly. As she gazed at his face, she was not sure what she saw in his eyes. Was it resignation? Was it relief? Or a dulled pain that she perchance failed to notice? She could not tell, but she wanted to know. She wanted to ask him, she wanted to talk to him, be with him before-

Birds sang nearby, leaves rustled on trees, a sunset multiplied by her senses chirped and swished into the horizon, and all its beauty stroked his already handsome cheek. His ebony eyes reflected the end of day, and his lashes veiled what he had seen, changing it into a memory to be soon torn from him, given back to the one we call the universe. Divided it would be, slashed into minute fragments of emotion, but so strongly felt in his perfect soul that what once was a mere obscure detail of his being would be enough to fill a lifetime.

No, don’t, she wanted to whisper, you can’t do this, he is love itself, how can you not see it? Please spare him, and spare yourselves. You can only love through him- if he dies, you die with him, can you not see? Nothing came out of her mouth, only her tears rolled in between her trembling lips. She swallowed them, but they kept coming, like an endless flow of sorrow.

She looked at him once more; he seemed very calm and serene. His hands were clasped together in front of him, and he stood firmly on the meadow of green and purple, with flowers around his bare feet bursting through the blanket of soil and dirt, first timidly, then resolutely, blooming into petals of rainbow. They seemed to chant the song of his soul, and hers. She drank her own sadness but she knew her thirst was never to be quenched.

She took a wobbly step towards him. No one seemed to care, no one seemed to notice her, teary-eyed and broken-hearted. She went to him and closed him in her arms. He embraced her softly, gently stroking her back, speaking to her without words. His voice filled her soul which seemed to be the only one that heard him. People were standing in groups, huddled together, waiting for the one they had chosen instead of him. She hugged him tight, feeling his chest rise and fall with his even breath. He was all she ever needed- how could they not feel the same way about him?

It all seemed to come together into a moment of perfect bliss. Stillness lay on her features and her heart as she listened with her eyes closed to his unspoken words float around her, meant for her to keep them, cherish them and survive on them. His warm hands rested on her waist, and his soft curls against her cheek. Her long hair brushed against his bare feet, undulating around his toes, stroking them gently. He loved her and she loved him, and she felt complete, fearing nothing, regretting nothing, awaiting nothing.

Suddenly a loud thunder broke the quietude; the earth trembled under her feet, and she felt his hands waver on her back. Soon, another thunder came; this time, it sounded even louder. Her heart drummed in her ears and she leaned closer to him, squeezing her eyes shut, refusing to look, not wanting to see the human being approach, surrounded by his wordly glory, firing huge cannons, celebrating himself, boastful and ignorant. What had he done in the name of love? Destroy lives, rule with a tyrant’s hand, send living creatures to war against their brothers, steal their freedom and stifle their souls. She wept tears of bitterness and unearthly sorrow when she thought of the one in her arms, the one who had merely sung, the one who loved each and every one of them, fallen or strong, pure or tainted.

She held him tighter, willing him to dissolve into her, hide within her, unnoticed to everyone, live and breathe inside her; she would protect him, she would give her everything for him, to make him happy. She squeezed him so strong she could almost hear his bones crack; he gently pushed her away to gaze into her eyes with a reassurring smile.

I am ready to go, he said. I do not fear them. They need a worldy leader more than they need me.

No, how can you say that? We need you more than we need our families, more than our own lives, she replied in tears.

You already have me within you, he replied softly. If you speak of me after I’m gone, you will keep me alive.

I don’t want you to go, she sobbed, choking on her tears, clasping her aching fingers onto his arms, grabbing his hands, tugging at his white shirt. But if you go, I go with you.

No, he said, taking her face between his hands. You will stay to give my message to people who need it.

She collapsed into his arms, but they were already coming closer- they reached him, grabbed his arms- tore him from her embrace- pulled him away-

The emptiness in her soul was crushing her. She saw nothing else as he slowly disappeared from her sight. He was gone. The leader, with a self-conceited, callous grin, was eyeing the cheering crowds. She fell to the ground, and lay half-unconscious in the flowery grass which seemed to send waves of love toward the one who was by now lost to eternity.

As she looked into the firy sky, the uncertain future seemed to blind her eyes. Whatever she had been, was lost with him, and she felt alone and helpless against the cruelty of all. She could not possibly take his place; he was perfect, and she was a mere mortal. Weak, forgotten, shaking in the face of her purpose.

Just then, a star sparkled in the sky, right above her head. Its light shone through the darkening heavens, strong and beautiful against the funereal blackness of the dead skies. She gazed at the star, feeling the evening breeze catch her hair and stroke her tear-stained cheeks. She was alone, true; because there was no one left around her from the madding crowd. But she was also aware that love would find its way to her in channels she could not yet fathom.

She smiled up at the star, her guiding light. She felt its warmth reach her from the other ends of the universe, and waited to receive her calling.