Pillow Tears

Sleep escaped her. Her mind tumbled from one thing to another, thoughts set to "tumble dry low". This was her first time alone, her first moments to process recent events. Her first opportunity to lie down in more than fourteen hours.

How she needed to rest. To close her eyes. To repair blood cells. To replenish energy stores. To dream.

But her mind's eye kept switching frames, rapidly, incessantly. First, the sad eyes of the women, then the sweat pouring from his brow. The furrowed and confused Man-In-Charge brow and the staring soldiers.

She remembers watching her older brother's face as she tried to figure out what was going on. He looked angry one minute, scared the next. First, 16 going on 30 and ready to rush out to the rescue. Then, 16 still 10 as his face turned white with the lashing.

Thirteen and not ready to see someone she loved hurt so badly. Not ready for the beatings, the spitting defiance, not ready to see the thorns pressed into his scalp, the blood trickling down past patient eyes.

The eyes that met her tear-filled gaze, speaking tenderness and care. The eyes that closed only for a moment after every blow, then opened again to look kindly at the crowd of onlookers. A tear dripped out, mixing with the blood as he watched the trembling sobs of the woman next to her.

His mother.

Mirroring the compassion she saw in his eyes, she reached out to this woman, arm about shoulders, squeezing love. Willing her to see the depth of love welling up in His eyes, wanting to help her receive the message, she gently touched the side of her face, and the woman raised her gaze.

And their eyes met. And tears of such love flowed freely. Tears of a heartbroken mother. Tears of a misunderstood son.

And tears now, on her pillow, as she finally drifted off to sleep, their faces etched on her memory forever.