After awhile (a moment? an hour? a year?) he put down the little girl. Her tears blessed his shoulder where she had nestled, just below the tear drop shaped spot where the shoulder muscles surround the labrum. She had washed Him with salty spots.
He did not brush them away.
After the Death-Tree, when the women cleansed His wounds and covered His naked corpse, they took as much time as they could in the Half-Dark before night, to rub His tortured flesh with spices. The herbs would have killed the pain if He had felt pain just then, but His outer pain was done.
The little girl's tears eased His inner pain.
"At least," He said, putting her down by His side, "I know I have come to the right place."
He smiled for the first time in awhile. He smiled His broad, knowing smile, teeth flashing. It was His smile that said, "I know better. I have some knowledge. Come on with me. There is a way through all this."
There were people in His life who never saw a miracle. They followed Him for His smile.
The little girl was on the un-ground of the abyss now. She grabbed for His hand, caught Him by the wrist instead and pinned His pierced wrist with both her little hands. He let her hold Him.
"Stay right near me," He told her. "I will leave here soon and you can go with me. I won't leave without you."
"Leave here?" a maniacal voice roared in echo of His words. "How the Hell do you get out of Hell?"
He was used to the ironic question by now. He never lost His smile. Only His eyes changed, barely, saying to the Dark-Voice, "You stand over there in the dark, the only thing you have known since your own death. I stand here in the Light I brought with me in my body."
The voice stilled.
He answered, "I don't plan to stay here. My Father's plan for me does not include staying here. I am leaving soon. You can go with me."
"Why should anyone believe you?" another Dark-Voice demanded.
He turned His light up a notch. He was getting the hang of it now. All He had to do, He remembered, was peel back the torn flesh. The light was not so much in Him as it was Him. He showered light on the Dark-Voice who wanted to know about Truth and Authority.
The light was all the more stunning for the darkness it altered.
For the first time ever, the dim, purgatorial spirits saw their surroundings. Some of them had been there for centuries.
There was nothing to see. The light shone in the darkness. No one had ever brought light to this darkness, not any Un-Time, not Ever, not Never.
They could see, finally.
There was nothing to see.
The darkness of the Dark-Place hid its vast, cosmic emptiness. There was space reaching form an empty instant to a vacuous distance.
They had stood on nothing. Forever.
"I am leaving soon," He told them again. "I would like for all of you to go with me."
"Where are You going?" an ancient Dark-Voice asked.
"What does it matter?" another answered for Him. "It has to be better than here."
"I am not inviting you just to leave here," He told them. "I am not asking you merely to go someplace better."
"What are you asking, then?"
It seemed a few million eyes were fixed directly on Him.
He paused, then smiled again.