Punishment

Written by Tony Teng

“Help! Help me…Help…Me…” his desperate sounds started to weaken.

“God will… bless me… right?” he coughed hard.

***

He was a merchant, and a Christian. Standing on deck in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, he looked upon the sky. God was up there, of course. But down here, next to him, was a cargo of spice, pepper, and dye. He knew after two days, he would reunite with his wife, and his 4-year-old son. It was 1347, August 17th, at last, a day he had prayed for for months. After this last part of his journey, he would stay at home for a while, at least until next year. He knew that his wife needed him, and his work for God and country had surely earned him a break.

He moved his eyes from the cargo to the men who sat scattered around it. He saw his crewmen coughing hard. They seemed uncomfortable and dizzy. He knew some of them would even pass away at some point, but he found it difficult to feel any sense of urgency for them, when he knew the reality.

“They are just being punished by God, right?” he said to himself, “There is nothing called disease; they have transgressed our Holy God.”

As the just person he thought himself to be, a devout believer of god, he had a duty to help them. 

He walked up to them, tied up his clothes to make himself look good, and tried to fix their unholy minds, “Repent of your sins and you will be forgiven.”

***

“My sins? Me?” He thought to himself. “No! How can I have sins? Never!” He shouted, as if he were using up all of the energy he had left in this life.

He breathed hard, raspy. 

“I am a Christian…I am a loyal follower…of the holy God. “Right! … it is because of them! They passed…the guilt…to me.” He was tired, but his eyes were bright. “But, the God in the sky. Look! I am…the person…who tried to help them. Can you hear me? Holy God?” He continued to beg, to hope.

No one responded. 

Eventually, he could hardly open his eyes, “God?” He opened his mouth but closed it back again suddenly, as if he was hesitating to say something.

Finally, he spoke. “I…confess…of my guilt. My lord. I confess…of things I did wrong in the past. Can you please…forgive me?”

No one responded.

And he looked outside of the window, turning his head with so much strength you’d think he were pushing a boat on land with his bare hands; he thought of his wife and son, his family… While he focused on the sky, an extended blanket of darkness laid out before him, he felt sad that he could no longer see the sun.

“Of course…” were the last words he said as he closed his eyes, softly.

Outside the door, his wife and son listened to his hacking cough and the dwindling strength of his breathing until they could hear no more. 

“Let’s go, my son. We must not stay with one who would be punished…”

Published by haringeyunchained

Haringey Unchained is a collective of students aiming to show case the creative talent of Haringey Sixth Form College in Tottenham, London. We think that through the promotion of our creative thoughts, we can educate our community, bringing to the foreground the critical and creative consciousness of a vibrant school in a deprived part of London. We are endeavouring to provide this blog as a platform for our community, giving the space to those whose work otherwise might not be seen or read. Being that the cuffs are off, we are able to express through our photography, art, short fiction and poetry, what’s really on our minds. We are free.

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