The bread tastes like dust. I drop it into my lap and lean my head back against the wall, wishing it were not Sabbath, so we could have fresh bread, but knowing that I would taste no difference.
I heard one of the women grinding grain early this morning. I hadn’t the heart to remind her of Sabbath. I didn’t need to: there was a sharp exclamation, a burst of muffled words, and then weeping. I haven’t heard the pestle since, and the bread is yesterday’s.
“Have you seen Simon?”
“No. And no one’s heard anything about Judas since....”
People have been coming and going all day, in ones and twos. Not all of the ones who should be here. The broken whispers and the silence I don’t mind. But the other men have been discussing what we should do next: ways to keep out of the Roman eye, keep ourselves safe; whether we should scatter, and where to.
They asked me. I said nothing, and they let me alone after a while.
I rub a hand across my eyes. They’re dry. I don’t know where Simon is. I don’t know what we should do. I don’t know when I’ll be able to eat bread again, or drink wine without remembering the smell of blood. I don’t know anything anymore.
The door opens and shuts, and every voice stills.
It’s Simon. He doesn’t look around, and most of the others know enough to simply get out of his way. James makes a face at Andrew, curious but not ready to say anything. It’s that stubborn ass Thomas who intercepts him and demands, “Where were you?”
Simon slams past without even looking, knocking Thomas backward. He crosses the room and stops against the far wall, leaning there as if he needs its strength to stand.
I wondered, before, if Simon even knew what had happened. He doesn’t ask–-so he was there, or at least he’s heard the story.
Ruth, Simon’s wife, slides up close to him. I look away. I can hear them plainly enough, but I’ve seen as much pain as I can bear today.
“Husband, I was worried, where have you been?”
A low grunt; he would rather not talk.
“Please, husband. . . .” Nearly too soft to hear. That’s tears.
I look up, then. Simon has his arm around his wife, tucking her shaking body against him, but he’s staring past her at the floor.
Might as well look for answers there as anywhere else.
The answer we had been looking for all our lives is lying in a tomb outside the city.
But it’s not the answers I miss, this moment. Everything he said, he showed us–-what we were made to be and to do. The news of the coming kingdom of God was borne out in his hands and his bent back, as well as in his voice.
Does no one remember that but me?