"It's ok. I won't go far," she laughed with a flip of her hand.
His face fell, and I could see that he cared about her, yet He let her go.
When I came around the corner, I saw she had already found company. There were three of them. They surrounded her like children around the candy dish. She welcomed their flirtations. They teased and she teased back. The little party went a few steps further down the path. She looked back over her shoulder briefly. I could see she was remembering Him.
"I need to go back. My Master is waiting," she said to the threesome.
"Oh, he'll wait for you. Didn't he say he'd never leave you? You know where he's at. You can go back later," they counseled her.
"I guess that's true," she hesitated. "He is so gracious, and I am free."
"Exactly!" they encouraged. "Come, we'll have fun," said the tall one as he slipped his arm around her waist. Another caught her hand and laid a quick kiss on her cheek.
She giggled and decided. "Just to the little pond ahead."
Of course they didn't stop there. The further they walked the bolder the men became. She seemed at a loss to dissuade their advances. They sat under a shade tree and the men caressed her. One playing with her hair, another massaging her feet. It was obvious she was enjoying the attention.
I looked back and could just see Him through the trees. He had not moved. His hurt of her rejection was written in His countenance.
I watched as she slapped the hand of an overly fresh suitor. "Don't forget, I'm already spoken for," she playfully warned with a giggle.
"Ah, but I thought you were free. Have a little fun with us," he countered.
"I am free. But I'm His. I really shouldn't," she said more seriously.
"Why not? Don't you like it?" He bent and kissed her neck.
"Well, yes, but..."
I watched as her resolve melted under their caresses. What was happening was obvious, but I was unable to do anything to change it. I was invisible. Nothing more than the narrator of the story.
Once more she remembered and shook herself free. "I really must go back."
"Oh sure!" They surprisingly let her go. "Sure, go check in with your Master. You'll see he's still there and he has grace for you. Then come back and we'll continue our fun!"
I had hope as she ran back the path toward Him.
Certainly He would persuade her to stay with Him and continue along the straight road. I watched as she embraced Him. He held her and she assured Him of her love. Then she pulled away and skipped back down the path!
"Thanks for being there for me," she called over her shoulder. "I love you and I'll be back soon. Thanks for waiting."
A tear slid down His cheek.
She returned to her suitors. They met her with waiting arms and kisses. Then quickly seduced her and led her deeper into the woods. There they ravaged her and held her against her will. Yet somehow she didn't scream or cry for help. She moaned with a distorted pleasure and pain. When they had used her for their pleasure they began to beat her. At first she almost seemed to welcome the blows. She didn't try to run or block she just took it. It was as if she felt she deserved it. The blows came harder. She curled into a fetal position and tried vainly to protect herself from the the blows that wouldn't stop. It was too late. The men were driven with hate and she was powerless against them. It looked hopeless.
Then I heard her call His Name. Ever so faint the sound came desperately from her lips.
And there He was.
He stepped into the middle of the foray and dropped His body down over her curled and broken one. The accusers didn't stop their beating. As the blows fell on His strong body, holes formed. Blood fell. A strange blinding light also came forth and a heat that was unbearable. Little by little the bullies dropped their sticks and ran, defeated by the heat of unconditional love and the bright glow of sacrificial forgiveness.
The blood fell on the broken child. Her brokenness healed. Supernatural healing manifest, and she stirred with renewed life. He stepped back and took her by the hand. This time she came with only one word.
"Friend." Her eyes locked with His.
He guided her back to the fork in the road. His horse still stood. He mounted the majestic white animal, and reached His hand down to her. She took it. He swung her up behind him.
They began down the path with sunset behind them and sunrise before them. Darkness fled and the brightness of a new day became evident.