Putting the Clock Back

My name is Esau. Six successive generations of my family served in the High Priest’s Guard. But I can’t imagine anyone of them had a Passover experience like mine.

Miriam, our third child, was due, so when old Caiaphas wanted volunteers to guard the grave, I grabbed the overtime. To be frank, it was a chance to escape from the bedlam in the city for a bit.

Truth be told, it was a dark, uneasy watch. Not what I expected. Deadly still. A clammy, oppressive air hung over the garden. Not an animal sound all night. Imagine, all four of us, armed guards, and afraid to even whisper. Just before dawn, I staggered like a drunk and was tossed off my feet. My spear clattered onto the rocks. Zacharias yelled as he fell over, ‘The stone… It’s moving.’ Another earthquake! I was scrabbling around for my spear when the intense light burst out. Then I saw him walking out of the tomb. Yes, walking. He paused, bent, and pulled me up by the hand, and smiled. Our eyes locked. My heart thumped, and my legs quaked. He seemed to interrogate every part of me in that instant. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I’d seen him speared, and I watched him bleed out. Dead? Absolutely, no doubt. Romans don’t make mistakes like that. Believe me, he was gone.

Even as I shook, I remember thinking, ‘He’s real.’ Different from his trial, but very real. ‘Run,’ yelled Jacob. We all panicked. When we stopped, it was old Ezra, hands on knees, gasping for breath, who put his finger on it. ‘What’re we going to tell them?’ Looking back, I’m sure old Caiaphas had been expecting it. In no time, the Council was in session. ‘Here’s what you’ll do,’ he said. The old fox could fix most things. But not that time. Daft story, you see. I mean, think about it, who knows what’s happening when they’re asleep? Boy, was he stubborn? So, in the end, I took the money. Wouldn’t you, with a third on the way? Anyway, what did it change? I’d still seen him. All four of us saw him. Within weeks, the countryside was buzzing with the story. ‘Truth will out, Esau,’ my mother always said. Seventeen years later and his movement’s still growing. Was I right to take the money? Don’t get me wrong, it helped at the time. But did I close a bigger bargain that day and not realise it? Nothing has been the same since. I feel I’ve lost part of myself. As if something priceless slithered through my fingers. Gone forever.

I’ve not long now, a simple fall caused an incurable infection in my leg, you see. His smile still haunts me. His eyes still bore into me. I feel he’s still reading my life. I can’t sleep. I should never have run. What I’d give to have those precious seconds again.