There on all fours like a sheepish puppy at the feet of Jesus with the whole world watching and judging, the woman musters every ounce of strength she can find and cups the dangling vial in her fingers again. Strangely, a calm rushes into her. Bowed with her raven’s hair cascading to the floor, she slowly unscrews the ornate cap and pops the lid. The scent begins its aerial dance away from the vial.

This perfume is her livelihood. Her identity. Her dead-end life. Her damnation. But she’s made up her mind. She stretches out her hand, brushing through the curtain of hair until the vial is perched directly above Jesus’ feet. Like a child playing in a bathtub with her favorite toy cup, she turns it upside-down. The scent explodes in front of her, reminding her of all her illicit loves and all the dirty money, reminding her of all the abuse at the hands of rough, greedy men scourging her with their own shame. The perfume gurgles as it runs and she watches bubbles collecting in the crystal vial as the golden liquid escapes, dribbling all over Jesus’ feet. He doesn’t pull them back.

And then, an eternity later, it’s all gone. The vial is empty to the last drop. So there’s no going back. Without warning, her inner vial finally cracks, spews out angst and guilt and shame like a geyser. Her body convulses with pain as she begins to sob, wailing for a moment until she remembers the party and all the spectators. But the tears can’t be stopped.

She begins to second guess herself. Look what she’s done! She’s poured out the sticky perfume all over Jesus’ feet. All over the floor. The party is over.

In a moment of pure desperation, she clutches Jesus’ feet, washing them with her tears. They flow like the perfume, though bitter as they reach her lips. But she doesn’t care. She doesn’t want her life. She wants death or a new start. She wants Jesus. She doesn’t want other men. She wants her Savior. She wipes his feet with her hair, trying in vain to clean up the silly mess with her tangled locks. It doesn’t work. At all.

By the time she sits up again, dizzy and spent, her makeup has run like the tears and perfume, her hair is a caked tangle of fragrant oil, her eyes are nearly swollen shut from crying, and she’s totally spent. Finished.

All that remains is finding out whether her insane gift has been received. Which will mean looking up to face him.