It had been so long since she had been out of her small, secluded home. She made herself as small as possible as she picked her way through the crowds. Head covered and as low as possible to allow her to see the path through the market place. She avoided touching anyone with even the hem of her dress. She needn’t worry. The whispers of who she was went before her and her path cleared as if by magic. Or disgust.
She strained to hear His voice. The clammer of excited voices guided her as He moved in and out of sight. Surrounded by men talking and arguing amongst themselves. Women and children following behind them, as was their respectful place.
Her breath quickened as she drew closer to Him. Her eyes focused on his head, the breadth of his shoulders, and the color of his cloak. The people and places faded as her need to be near Him deepened.
The tassels hanging from each corner of His shawl bounced up and down as he made His way through the crowd. She was almost to Him. He was almost to the leader’s house. Her need to reach Him filled her with panic and she began to run, pushing against anything and anyone in her way. Gasping for air, her arm thrust out toward Him, she stumbled and fell to the ground. She began to weep for the lost opportunity to reach Him. To touch Him. To live.
He turned to look down at her and then to her fingertips brushing the very end of the tassel.
She heard His inhaled breath and looked up into His face. Compassion softening the burrow between his brow, love flooding into His eyes. “Take heart, daughter. Your faith has healed you.”
He turned to continue His journey to the girl lying dead in the leader’s home.
She pushed her body up from the cobblestone, inhaling the fresh air. She felt the crowd forming around her. She turned full circle, looking into each face that had avoided her gaze for twelve painful years. A few men rushed away to catch up with Him, even as the women and children pressed in. Smiling, they reached out to touch her hand, her arm, the shawl wrapped loosely around her head. A neighbor pulled her close and touched her cheek. Whispering words of praise and thankfulness, they grabbed her hands and led her home.