The two men had run off, as they were so prone to do, never giving the stranger in the garden a second glance. He was alone now. He stretched wide and took in the morning sun, which fell warmly on the leaves nearby. A morning song drifted in and around him, and the singer lighted gently on a branch just a few feet away. He stood there, watching the singer, marveling at such a small and elegant creature. The singer cocked her head and puzzled at him for a moment. It sang once more, as if to ask who he might be. He smiled in response, and the singer moved on in a flutter.
He heard footsteps approaching, and sat on his haunches, busying himself with the patch of little yellow flowers beside him.
The woman had returned, visibly distraught, sniffling, speaking in whispers and sobs. He kept to his flowers as she approached the rock. He glanced quickly her way, but her eyes did not meet his.
She paused at the sight of the open rock face, and peered into the barren tomb. He could hear her sharp breaths, and glanced her way again as she stepped, trembling, into the tomb.
He returned to his flowers. He knew what she must be thinking. ‘They’ve taken him! Oh God! They’ve taken him! Hadn’t he suffered enough? Why strip him even of the dignity of a grave?’ She began to sob. The little yellow faces of the flowers stared back at him, as if pleading: “Say something!”
He heard a voice coming from the empty tomb.
“Ma’am? Why are you crying?” the muffled voice said.
“They’ve taken him! They’ve taken him and I don’t know where! Why would they take him?”
Convulsions of sorrow were coming upon her now, and she turned from the open grave, steadying herself with one hand against the stone that should have sealed the tomb. Her hand came to her lips as she looked to the empty blue sky. With a great sob, she buried her face in her hands, and wept.
He stood to face her, and stepped slowly toward her.
“Ma’am? Why are you crying?”
“Please!” she said between gasps, “Please, if you’ve taken him... If you know where they took him, tell me! I’ll take him! Please!”
She fell into the stranger’s arms and wept. “Please.”
He took her into his embrace, and they stood silently, both of them glowing in the morning sun, her head nestled into his neck. He smiled as her ear tickled his. Finally, he put his lips close to her ear and whispered a single word.
Her eyes shot open in recognition, and she pushed herself away to see his face.
“Teacher!” she screamed, and took him into her arms so tightly he began to laugh.
“Oh God! It’s you! It’s you!” she said, her heart barely believing the reality of the moment.
“It’s me,” he said.
“Oh, let me hold on to you forever!”
“Not yet, Mary. But soon.”