His back hung in flayed strips like the carcasses of cattle where she bought meat to make meals for a husband she loved.
He was a robber, a thief of emotions, caught and branded by law an adulterer. She found him on her way home, barely alive, moaning and rolling in the cool dirt of the alley. Sand ground into the torn flesh of his back, flowing blood like an overturned vase seeping water into a carpet. Colors ran, intermingled.
She hid him in the shack at the back of their walled yard. She moved tools, brought a blanket, a candle and some water and wine. She cleaned the ragged landscape of his back and dressed it with cotton. He whispered thanks between warnings. She shushed him and left him to sleep.
He told her about the woman. He cried when he spoke her name. He said her eyes still burned into his own, her lips healed his wounds with the memory of kisses. He said that he wished that he too had been put to death.
She kept him hidden for nearly a week. He insisted that he would leave the next day.
He was gone, as he’d said, but he had been seen by her neighbor, a bitter old widow she disliked.
She sang as she prepared the evening meal, happy to no longer have a secret kept from her husband, when they came and took her away.