As soon as the joyful sounds find her there in the doorway, they fall dead at her feet. It’s as if she’s Medusa and her headful of snakes has turned all the frivolity to cold granite.

Someone puts into words what everyone is wondering: “What’s SHE doing here?” But no one answers, because no one knows. After a few short gasps, no one even breathes. A few secret customers hide their faces, afraid of a reckoning if she recognizes them and points them out.

She doesn’t remove her sandals at the door. No time for that. And the glares begin, served up with side dish of psychic poison. She averts her eyes, as if pretending she isn’t really hated will stop the daggers from skewering her back. On the upside, no one is spitting at her. Yet.

Where is he? She scans the room, flitting across a sea of crossed arms and stiff bodies until she finds one at rest. The Teacher.

Her heart smashes at the inside of her ribs and she feels the color comes back into her cheeks. Just seeing him makes her come alive again. She begins to smile, then pulls it back. Does she dare? On the other hand, does she care? A beautiful grin erupts from within her, a smile that would have embarrassed her on any other day. But this day, the One she smiles at smiles back at her. She finds his eyes, frozen in the moment. And then tears fill her view, welling up on her eyelids. His eyes are sparkling at the sight of her.

She’s rehearsed this moment a hundred times, but now that she is here, in his presence, all eyes on her, she nearly freezes, nearly forgets what she’s come for. Striding forward, she throws herself at his feet, landing on all fours, staring at the ground, hair cascading forward like a curtain to hide her face from the crowd. A few have now begun to breathe again. But not her.

“What’s she doing? Doesn’t he know what kind of woman she is?”

She shuts her eyes as the words pierce her deeply. She opens her eyes again, and then she sees it. The vial on the end of the chain around her neck. It’s dangling right there in front of her eyes, screaming about what kind of woman she is, nodding in agreement with the religious mob. It’s the perfume she wears every day as she stands like a dead person on the street corner, the fragrance that signals to every man that passes by that her body can be theirs for a price. The vial says in no uncertain terms that she is a dirty rotten whore.

A dirty rotten whore bowing at the feet of Jesus.