An Hour Ago

This I know to be true: the course of a life can change in minutes. I learned the truth of this an hour ago.

* * * *

The mob’s excited murmurings captured my attention just as the men barged into the bedroom, pulling me from my lover’s embrace. Dazed, I tumbled from the bed.

One of the men, having the eyes of a zealot, threw a blanket at me. “Cover your nakedness, harlot.”

I scrambled for the blanket, wrapping myself in it as they dragged me out into the streets.

The voices of the women were loud and ugly and I gagged as warm spittle ran down my face. “Slut,” they shrieked, “wicked woman! Have you no shame? The stones for you! The stones for you!”

A clump of dirt hit me in the eye, blurring my vision. Frightened, I stumbled along, pushed and prodded by the good men of Jerusalem. “Where are you taking me?” I pleaded.

“The temple court – where your sins will be exposed!”

Finally, they stopped moving. Abruptly, one of them pushed me to the ground. His sandaled foot shoved the side of my face into the dirt, holding me hostage.

“Teacher,” said one of the good men, “this woman was caught in adultery. The law says she must be stoned. What say you?”

There was no answer.

“What say you, teacher?” repeated the voice.

An uneasy silence reigned for several moments.

The heavy foot lifted from my cheek. I looked up through the dust and saw a man kneeling in the dirt. He paid me no mind. His eyes were on the stick in his hands, and the words he began to write in the dust.

Liar. Cheat. Envious. Jealous. Greedy. Prideful.

With each word, the good men of Jerusalem took a step back.

Finally, without glancing up, the teacher replied, “If any of you is without sin, then be the first to cast a stone at her.”

The silence continued as one by one the good men slowly departed.

Tossing aside his stick, the teacher raised his head and looked at me. “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir.”

He nodded, brushing the dirt from his hands. “Then neither do I.” He stood up, reached out his hand, and helped me rise.

He looked at me intently. I sensed he saw everything… my loneliness, my fear, the sad nights spent in the arms of strangers, desperate for solace…

I felt the shame of it, the despair, and looked away. With his finger, he lifted my chin, forcing me to meet his gaze. When I did, I saw kindness there. “Go now,” he said, “and leave behind your life of sin.”

* * * *

I watched him join the small group of men and women waiting for him. He whispered something into the ear of one of his companions. The man nodded and hurried over to me.

Removing his outer cloak, he smiled. “Here, sister – take this.” He threw the garment over my shoulders. “Have you a home to return to?”

Did I? Had I ever?  I didn’t know how to answer.

It didn’t matter.

“Come with us. You have a home now.”

I clutched his sleeve. “That man… the teacher… who is he?”

“He’s the one you’ve waited for. The one we’ve all waited for.”

* * * *

An hour ago, good men sought to stone me for the law’s sake.  Another sought to redeem me. This I know to be true: he gave me back my life. I will never be the same.


Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

~ John Newton

Author’s Note: While this story is too long for ThainInVain’s 500 word flash fiction challenge, I want to thank her for the idea behind the story. Her challenge was to write 500 words based on the phrase ‘about an hour ago.’ So, many thanks, TiV, for giving me an idea for my contribution to the Christmas season. 

About Kate Loveton

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time... ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?
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41 Responses to An Hour Ago

  1. You took a familiar Biblical story and brought it to life fromthe woman’s point of view. You gave her a real humanity and personality. She is no longer just a symbol of a harlot or prostitute. She is a living breathing scared and vulnerable woman. This is an excellent piece of writing. Beautiful job!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed the story and appreciate the kind comment. I like to tell these stories in a way that brings the people to life so that we see, today, that they were not so different from us. 🙂

  2. willow1945 says:

    What a wonderful retelling of that story; I was drawn right into her feelings and experience. Well done, Kate!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Thanks, Willow! It always makes my day to hear from you. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year’s. 🙂

      • willow1945 says:

        And a wonderful 2015 to you and yours! My holidays were very nice, but on the 26th I started on on unplanned detox, brought on by using a device in my home that neutralizes harmful EMFs. Apparently that has been a much bigger health problem for me than I knew, and I feel like I’ve had 11 days of the flu so far–really lousy. The good news, fingers crossed, is that this big clearing out of toxins from my body will be the health turn-around I’ve been trying to find for years! But most days I barely get online, which is why I’m neglecting good friends and their writings. Hope to be back in full force before too long 🙂

  3. Pingback: Flash Fiction Challenge – Week 50 Submissions | Thain in Vain

  4. Megan says:

    This was amazing! I loved how you took a story we’ve all heard and made it so real.

  5. Lovely, Kate! A perfect reminder that a little understanding of another is a powerful way to live! Nice work! TiV

  6. Wonderful, vivid retelling, K. I want to say you transported us to the past but it’s really the story you transported to us in a way that reads well. We have and will continue to know moments when we could use the grace and can dispense it.

  7. stacilys says:

    Kate, one word: BRAVO! Very well done, my friend.
    🙂 ❤

  8. A wonderful retelling of an ancient story. Your muse never fails to amaze me, Kate ❤

  9. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

  10. Glynis Jolly says:

    Your reenactment was so moving. This is the kind of thing that changes hearts.

  11. Wow! What a great story. It really struck a chord with me. Thanks, Kate 🙂

  12. It’s wonderful that you chose to tell the story of Mary Magdalene at this time of year and did it so beautifully. It reminds us of the true meaning of His birth. Kate, you never fail to inform, teach and amaze with your writing.

  13. Oh my. You’ve captured MM so well in this story. I agree with the consensus. Told from her point of view gives this story a different degree of intensity. Bravo!
    ❤ ❤

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Thanks, Tess! Sometimes, I think a reminder that the people spoken about in the Bible were people very much like you and me makes the telling of a Bible story sometimes have more meaning. I tried to think what she might have felt as she was dragged through the streets and brought to stand before this charismatic, mysterious teacher. I think she was amazed to find mercy as opposed to judgment. How could it not change her life?

      I appreciate your kind comments, my friend. 🙂

  14. “ the first to cast a stone”
    i wish this restraint would apply for all time, how much more tolerant and peaceful our communities, our countries.
    Excellent re-telling, Kate, of a defining moment.


  15. An interesting re-telling of an ancient account, and one that still has relevance today in certain cultures.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi Keith, thank you. 🙂

      I was about to say a story about a woman condemned by hypocrits should resonate with all cultures… but the sad truth is that in many parts of the world, women are still pilloried while men (their accomplices) escape sentence. Very tragic.

  16. markbialczak says:

    It’s beautiful, Kate, believe it.

  17. Bruce Goodman says:

    Lovely to read it from the point of view of the woman. It caught me by surprise!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      I was hoping for a little surprise along the way. Glad it worked! 🙂 Looking forward to reading more of your short tales this year, Bruce! Hope 2015 is a great year for you.

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