Much later that evening the camp had forgotten the arguments of earlier on and were settling down for the evening after supper but before sleeping. I approached Jesus who looked more tired than usual and I began to massage his tense shoulders and cool the heat in his head with myrrh. I could feel him relaxing under my hands, all knots and strains coming undone. If nothing else I should be happy to only ever be here from him, to look after him and see that he did not tire himself too much that he would make himself ill.
Part of me, though only a small part, boiled with anger that Judas would not allow me the honour of being the equal to him or the others but he would bestow that on Esther. Understand that I did not feel any jealousy or such feelings towards her for that. It was clear to me that Judas cared for her very much and she for him. That was exactly what I felt towards Jesus, but I was denied this small feeling for him because of my past.
Sometimes in the night when everyone else was fast asleep I would wander the camp and worry that one day Jesus would come to believe what Judas said and make me leave the place that I sincerely wished I could call home, this place that I know I could belong in if I could only be left alone to do so.
Sometime whilst I am soothing Jesus, Judas snatches away my bag of ointments and begins to again berate me on my frivolous spending. He shouts about how it could have been used to help the poor. He gets closer and closer to my face as he shouts but I will not flinch nor show any sign of being intimidated by him.
Then he begins shouting at Jesus. It is an argument that occurs so often nowadays and I would prefer to avoid it for the good of both Jesus and I. In a vain attempt to stop this argument from going any further I step in between the two and try to diffuse the inevitable argument. I try to make Jesus sit down and relax again but to no avail. I knew from the moment Judas opened his mouth that they would be having this argument again.
It was not because Mary was a woman that he found it hard to accept her as an equal in the group but because of her previous profession, that was a hard stain to get rid of. It would seep off of her and taint others, Jesus especially.
It really didn't help that she chose to waste money on expensive ointments instead of the people that we had set out to help.
"Woman your fine ointment, brand new and expensive, should have been saved for the poor. Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe three hundred silver pieces or more!" I was right in her face and two equal factions were currently at war. Part of me didn't mean to get so close and intimidate her like that but the other half of me insisted that it was time she learnt her place and stopped putting us at risk. Then I turned my attentions to Jesus, he needed to stop encouraging her and even though he is my friend, I couldn't go any easier on him for it.
"People who are hungry, people who are starving. They matter more than your feet and hair!"
This whole crusade for change had been fuelled by the need to help those who could not help themselves, but it was quickly becoming more about Jesus than anyone else. It almost looks as if, for one slight moment, my words had broken through Jesus' outer shell as he looked down and away. He took a few paces away but whipped his head up and came back at me, shouting about how there will always be those that are poor, that are ill and that I should not let it cloud the good things in my life.
At that moment I chose to steal a glance at Esther, her head in her hands. It hurt to think that she was embarrassed or ashamed of me so much so that she had to hide her face. This was the worst indignity of them all, that I was even slightly upsetting her.
I tried to keep my composure as Jesus continued but my mouth set into a frown, and I began to care so little for what he was saying. Even as he told me that when he was dead and gone I would be lost, I did not flinch. Instead I decided to bow my head and walk away once more. Perhaps I ought to leave for good, I seemed to do little here than disturb the peace and now even Esther seemed to be getting tired of me.
He had barely been back in camp an hour, he hadn't even spoken to me and to be honest I worried that he was creating a rift that would not heal. Yes, I understood how he felt. I understood all his worries and I shared in many of them but this was not the right way to express them.
I rested my head in my hands, a headache coming on as Jesus began to shout at him. "Oh Judas." I whispered.
Through slightly separated fingers I continued to watch.
"There will be poor always, pathetically struggling. Look at the good things you've got!" He advised Judas
In that split second, I swear I saw Judas glance at me and then seemed suddenly devoid of the fight I always expected him to have. He turned back to face Jesus and I couldn't get a close enough look at his face anymore but if his stance was anything to go by, he had stopped listening. He had given up on this argument.
Mary tried valiantly to calm Jesus and distract him from the argument between him and his friend but it was to no avail. He kept his eyes trained on Judas as he slowly walked out of camp once more that day. I shot up and made to follow him, stopping only momentarily to glance at Jesus. Catching my eye he gave a minute nod and I ran after Judas.
When I caught up to him I took his hand, which made him jump.
"Esther, I- Sorry I caused a fuss again." He said sadly.
"Do not apologise to me, you should apologise to Mary and Jesus. I know what you believe and I think you are correct. Alas, they do not and it serves no good purpose to keep making them feel on edge about this. You are only driving a wedge between yourself and the rest of the twelve."
"Does that include you?" He asked
"No. Unfortunately for you my friend, you are very much stuck with me." I chuckled.
"I would not have it any other way. There is nothing even remotely unfortunate about being 'stuck with you' as you put it."
We walked in silence together for a while and I have to say, it was nice to see Judas calm so quickly outside of the camp. Not even the tense, ever poised to attack, Judas I knew from camp existed out here while we walked.
I watched as Judas left, distracted only by the sight of Esther move to go with him. She stopped to turn and look at me, as if for reassurance that it was okay she go but I know that what I said or did in that moment would change nothing. I could forbid her to leave but she would still walk away and join him. I never would forbid it of course, so instead I nodded and watched as she caught up with him. When they were almost out of eyeshot for most of the twelve I saw her take his hand.
I sincerely hope he sees what he has before he loses it. She loves him, that much is plain, although perhaps not to either of them. I think he loves her too, and he knows it but he worries.
I hope he sees this before it is too late.
Dear God I am so sorry! It's been over a year and I don't really have much of an excuse... Life has a fantastic way of making me forget to update. I am so sorry. I don't really want to promise another chapter soon cause I might forget, however I will do my utmost to not leave it that long ever again!