Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Dread made me cold and I pulled my shawl tightly around my shoulders. I didn't know why I had come. The outcome had been decided two weeks ago when John stood mute before the judge. I knew he was innocent, but couldn't readily admit to it. My husband would have beat me senseless and I would have lost both my boys and my daughter. They were just young children, each of them no taller than my waist. I just couldn't lose them.

The door opened and the tall man in front of me stood to his full height, obscuring my view. All I could see were John's muddy feet. He must have been pacing the floor of his cell last night. I wished he had spoken, said something. I knew his silence had been measured. By remaining silent, he was protecting his own family and mine as well. He was also asking for his own death.

I heard rustling and refocused on what was happening in the small square. A large crowd had gathered. Some were crying, begging for mercy. That group must have been his family. Others were celebrating the entertainment. The man in front of me called over to another man. "They've got him tied down now."

I bowed my head. I had prayed for two weeks for his release. Now I prayed for a quick end. I knew it would not be painless. I could hear men grunting as the first large stone was lifted and settled on to the plate. I imagined the immense weight of it pressing down on him. My chest ached as I rushed to catch my breath. Tears soaked my collar and discolored my eyes.

The judge asked him to admit his guilt. More grunting and a soft thud was the only answer. I could feel my lips tremble as I prayed more fervently for a miracle. I had emptied my lungs and forgotten how to take another breath in. Feeling dizzy, I sat on the ground. The earth trembled with the effort to move the next stone on top of the plate.

Women began screaming and children bawled. I rocked back and forth, not caring if a foot pressed into a hand or leg. Violently I drew in the air John had been deprived. Over and over I moved as the cries and cheers grew fewer. When all was silent, I looked up to see the large mound of boulders piled on top of him. His arms, legs, and head stuck out from under the plate. His body seemed deceivingly intact, but I knew it was as broken as my heart and my future.

Slowly, I gathered up my skirts and my basket and headed home. My husband would be in from the fields soon and the children still needed tending. I would have to wait.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


  1. Just a quick comment to say I am still reading and that was pretty dark.

  2. Look up crushing on wiki. It has a dark history.

  3. My goodness, Heather. That was horrible and absolutely fabulous! Your writing gets better and better. I am, however, a little concerned about this dark side that's escaping. :O)

  4. I always find it strange when people like something that I've written when I am not all that fond of it myself. All the same, thank you!