This is a fictional short story. No characters portrayed in this story are based on any real persons, nor any similarities intentional by the author. It was mostly written a few years ago. Any guilt felt by the reader is, well, their problem, and they will have to deal with it!
I feel like I am carrying my cross up that final hill, each person trying to mess with my head as I pass, with bitterness and contempt. And each step the raw pain eats into my nerves which soothes my soul by reminding that it is still alive. Even those who have never met me before seem to raise themselves onto an unassailable platform from which they can cast their stone faces and seed of doubt. My body has become a fertile place for negativity, one which repels love and encourages hatred. Those kind of heart and pure of mind are resistless to the smell of shoots, and avoid contact; whereas those filled with pity struggle closer, only to be repulsed by the horrible truth they see through the emptiness of my eyes, which reflect the lakes of sadness welling within. Seemingly there is no goal, for the goal is the end, and yet I struggle to reach it. Each step knowingly taken that the truth does not matter, that innocence is seen by others as guilt, and without committing offence already a sentence has been read. Why?
And as I pass each sinner, their jeer turns to a pain written silently, haloed around their heads, like a noose waiting to be hung: spy, bully, trespasser, judgemental, liar, cheat, hypocrite, thief, adulterer, glutton, envy, wasteful, disrespectful, superficial, bigoted, heartless, arrogant etc. The small streams of blood drip drops, which hammer down on the wood, demanding attention, ordering court, casting sentence. Still they hate. As I stand wrapped in blooded loin, their rich coats sparkle in the sunlight, not one sign points to remorse; all point to the peak. I stumble alone in my darkness, while they stand righteous in the light; the crystal salt in my tears rips through my ducts, the white of their teeth reflects my decayed image. I’m impoverished in their presence and still they shout with such aggression. Do they even see me?
My pathetic being litters their world as I pass and it so angers them that they throw any scrap to hand: unwonted litter, metal cans which clash against my head, glass which clunks loud, knocks and smashes on the stones below, gum which sticks and stinky cigarette butts spat from their mouths. Not appeased by my suffering, they meddle more, with laughter and intimidation, they threaten, and goad for my justifications. My gasping lungs hiss out appeals, wheezing breaths of air, which struggles to filter to my blood, leaving no strength for sound. The breeze brings flurries of spit. How they hate, how they despise. How can I defend my innocence? How can you justify innocence itself? It is what it is. But who on earth is innocent? What one thinks is right, the other thinks it wrong. So, what is my purpose?
Somehow, I lost all sense of direction. I plod forwards knowing only that it is the way to go, the same as waiting just brings the time closer. What time? What direction? I know simply I am on a hill and forwards is the direction. Is backwards an option? Why? Surely I came from there? And being there only brought me here, to suffer, to struggle, to be abhorred. Why cover the same ground twice? Could it be changed? Would it be different? How can it be different when I shall mix with the same people who discourage me now? Why should they see me as different? Why were they so quick to believe that I should be the wall on which to paint their poison? Were they so afraid before?
I move helplessly, like a wounded predator, no longer able to roam free, and all those who once hid in fear have found false courage. They come to gloat and ridicule what once they could not compete. How the rodent’s squeak should change when the wounded tiger offers no threat; its past ability soon forgotten and the hunted becomes the master, never fearful, forever successful. But I am no predator, no callous being or threatening foe, nor have I ever been. I cannot alter where my shadow falls; it does what it does as I am what I am. Is it so threatening a soul who actually cares, not just another theatrical display, the superficial show travelling the world? Is this what they all fear? And why they all close round now to instigate the demise? Why they stifle my growth and clip the feathers of wings?
Each step, each stumble, it is closer, but is it progression? One step nearer, but how much further? In the middle of a race distance seems immeasurable, but the closer you get to the finish the more meaningful each step becomes. Why then does this petty parade seem so meaningless? Can it be that I am in the middle of my race? Then why is the end so near? Is it the end of another stage or mile? Step after step I take, like a heavy beating heart continuing even after it became broken. The pain is great, yet the sadness of the surroundings somehow numbs. And though it makes no sense, my instinct is to continue; it is the only way.
People block the path, they have judged and they remove the alternative. They do not know the truth, they create it. It is not fact, but fiction and I must live in it, through their eyes there is no other way. They shout louder to hide the whispers of their lies, in hidden hope to hide their shame.
In the future they will beg for me to return. To what? To this? This will be my memory, a lasting one, and they will not understand. They look pitifully at me with disgust for my stupidity, with the same faces that will one day beg for my return. Why would I return to this?
Too hurt to care and too wounded to feel, I get closer. Do I judge? I know that they are wrong about me, but in their world of minds there is no wrong or right, only their view which is truth, in which case there is no truth, only lies. Their hammers cast down their final judgement and I must rise in front of the court. Still they scream for justice – because it is not justice. I am too weary to seek revenge and it is not my goal nor should it be, but my mind does wonder when and in what shape and form their mistakes will haunt, and how will they live with their conscience when it finally realises the damage they have done.
I am nearing the end, the end of what I do not know, but I can feel it. I raise my weary head and, almost to my surprise, when I look into their eyes I do see the light; the sun dazzles and I can see it burning bright: in each and every one there is a soul. I cannot feel contempt, only love, and sadness for their sorrows. For each carries with him a cross, and although it is not as heavy as mine, it is as much a burden. Their shouts are voices of their own pain, which they cast off towards me like unwonted parasites. The bitterness and anger I drag along with me on my cross, for this is my purpose, I am human and with it I must fulfil my duty: I am a sister, I am a daughter, I am a servant; I am a brother, I am a son, I am a servant. It would be easy for me to drop down to my knees and be done with this wretched curse. However, to each I must serve, I must carry my cross for them, this serves my purpose now. Each step now becomes more difficult as the pain I carry grows greater.
One day, each will learn his role as brother, son and servant, or hers as sister, daughter, and servant: the healthy, the crippled, the hungry, the meek, the mixed, the wealthy, the fortunate, the lonely, the bitter, the enraged, everyone. They will learn to serve one another, to help each other, and once they realise that each is both their master and their servant, the world will grow a better place. Because each master must be responsible, and each servant must serve accordingly, the world will work much happier, and each person rewarded through fulfilment of their duty. There are many things to love and many treasures lay undiscovered. It is a heavy purse a person carries when they both fulfil their duty, and rule with compassion, they will lay in the most comfortable of beds and will taste the finest in food. But for now there remain too few servants to bring supper.
I should have been protected by you all from the poisons that have burnt into my soul, body and mind. Instead, at each and every turn, energy is only spent misinterpreting or trying to disprove and discredit me. Perhaps today can be a new beginning.
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