The weight of his betrayal was crushing him.
He had been the one who had felt abandoned, forced into the background of friendship by the others. He thought he could force his hand, and somehow return himself to his place of honour at his friend’s side. He thought his friend would finally rise up, finally fight back and show his strength. He didn’t.
The moment after he kissed his friend’s cheek, he knew it wasn’t going to go that way.
Despair was now a strangely comforting blanket he wrapped tightly around himself. He walked out into the night, numb, and cold, the thirty silver coins shaking in the purse held by his trembling hand.
The weight of his friend’s betrayal sunk his heart like ballast. Forgiveness was here, waiting, if he would only come and receive it. He hung there, high above the gawking crowd who had gathered for the execution, and searched each face for the face of his friend.
If only he would come, I could tell him.
His betrayal might have gone unnoticed, had a rooster not crowed. He might have justified it to himself, told himself he was only trying to lay low so that he could be near. The rooster told him otherwise. Clear and shrill, it sang the coarse and cutting song. Denial. Betrayal. It stole the breath from his throat, and he ran away, and wept bitterly.
If only he would only come, I could tell him.
He looked upon the faces of the ones gathered here before him, like the sheep and the goats awaiting their judgement. He saw the faces of his friends in his mind’s eye, and loved them. He saw the faces of his accusers, of the ones who had condemned him. An ocean of broken people broke upon his heart, each one condemned to death by a billion separate judges. Peter and Judas stood out.
“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
If only they would come, I could tell them.
He looked upon the field below him, standing on the branch of the lone tree which he had climbed. The rope scratched his neck, and his hand played at it without thought. He stood carefully upon the limb, steadying himself by another branch. The grass is tall, he thought absently. It’ll be a long time before anyone finds me.
He pronounced himself Judge of his own soul, and found it guilty, punishable by death. He stepped out from the limb, and the weight of his guilt doubled gravity.