The sun had risen and the guards sitting across from my cell were now in a flurry of activity. It's going to be a big day for us all. Today is crucifixion day. Three men, all condemned to death, will be marched across town, carrying wooden beams on their backs, all the way up to the place of the skull – Golgotha, where they will be stripped of their clothes, their hands nailed to the beams they would be carrying, and their feet nailed to the posts on which they would hang.
Never before has man seen anything as brutal as a Roman crucifixion. It didn't just rob a man of his life, but it robbed him of his dignity as well. And this would be my final penalty.Penalt y for sins I did not commit. But I cannot back out now, not when I could almost see the reward that would soon be handed down from heaven. My body is failing, but my Spirit remains strong. And as long as I have breath in my lungs, I will continue with what I had set out to do. I must, or all else would have been for naught.
The soldiers were now preparing the beams that will soon be strapped to our backs. They were laughing and making jokes about the forthcoming activities – our crucifixion. It was nothing new to them. Most of them had already seen, and even officiated on, dozens of this unique punishment. Little did they know that what they would be doing today would set in motion a chain of events that would impact not only them, not only this day; but the whole world, for generations and generations to come, up until the end of time.
One of the higher ranking officers came into the courtyard and the soldiers stood at attention. I recognized him immediately. He was the Centurion whose servant I had healed. I should pity him for being part of this doomed regime. But I had seen his heart, and I know that he will be one of the first to be saved. In fact, he will be a defender of the faith and will bring countless people into the light. After a while, he turned his head towards my cell, sorrow was written on his weathered face. He was apparently asking about me. I saw him dismiss the soldiers as he slowly walked towards my cell.
When he stopped just a few paces from me, I immediately felt the struggle raging inside him. He needed to remain composed, to not show weakness in front of his fellow soldiers. Yet the tears rimming his eyes were proof of his compassion for me. I wanted to reach out and comfort him. But I needed to conserve whatever energy I had left. I must have enough strength to see this through. I tried to at least smile, to assure him that I understood his dilemma. But my face was too battered from the beatings I had received last night that even just a twitch of my lips brought pain cascading through my whole body.
"Teacher, is that you?" I heard the Centurion's ragged voice.
At first, I was surprised by his question. How could he not recognize me? Had he so easily forgotten? Then, I remembered. Ah, yes! Those blows that pummeled my face must have already disfigured me. My face was probably beyond recognition now. I know that my left eye was now swollen shut, and my lips were puffy and cut in several places. My nose was not broken, but it, too, was swollen to twice its normal size. Perhaps, even the woman who gave birth to me would not even see the son she so loved in this mutilated face of a man. I sighed, and shards of pain shot through my sides. Even breathing hurt now. I wonder how long it would be before this fragile shell finally gave out. I raised my hand, ignoring the sharp stab at my side. Thankfully, it was enough for the Centurion.
He bowed his head and muttered under his breath, "I'm so sorry, Teacher. I was not there to defend you."
Inwardly, I smiled. He really was a good man and I did not have the heart to tell him that he would not have been able to defend me. Everything that was happening now had been pre-ordained even from the creation of the world. And no one, except me, could stop it. I need only say one word, and Legions of Angels would descend upon this land and whisk me off to safety. But, if I did, then there would be no way for Man to be reconciled with the Father.
Just as the Centurion was about to come closer, another officer came in and headed straight for him. The officer whispered something to the Centurion and his head came whipping up, his eyes snapping back to me, conveying the message that was passed on to him. It was time. The Centurion nodded, and with a final, sorrowful look at me, turned back to the other soldiers. His frustration was evident in the way he barked his new orders at them.
The other officer stood there, staring at me from where he was. I sensed no animosity in him, only a deep regret and a tiny spark of sympathy. But he was a Roman officer through and through so, he hardened his heart, swiftly turned on his heels and walked back to the clump of soldiers at the entrance of the courtyard. He must've given instructions to the two guards who were personally assigned to me by the Procurator because they left even before he did. Those two were the only decent ones of the lot. They were the ones who stopped the beatings last night. They even gave me a tattered robe to sleep on. One of them, I knew, would be one of the Centurion's first converts.
I felt myself slipping again into oblivion. It was so easy to just give up. But I mustn't. Not yet. It's not yet time. I tried to sit up so I would not fall asleep and was instantly introduced to another spectrum of pain. My skin burned at the slightest movement, the wounds sticking to the rough material of the robe beneath me. I could feel the blood oozing out of my wounds – blood that would soon wash away all the iniquities of man. Just a little bit more and it will all be finished. I would finally accomplish what I had been tasked to do.
In truth, I had taken this task willingly. No one forced me to do this. I made my choice, of my own free will. I knew from the start what I was getting into. Unlike what others think, I am not a victim of circumstances. I feel myself drifting off, so I shifted my body on my crude pallet and once more, pain radiated from my toes up to my head. Every inch of me was covered with bloody cuts, my skin almost flayed from my flesh, the result of the 40 lashes administered by a Roman flagrum. I was a worm squirming on this rough patch of cloth. But soon, I promised myself, it would be over.
Then, as if the Enemy had heard my thoughts, my reprieve from man's brutality was quickly revoked. Two of the most vicious guards came marching into my cell. One had a velvet robe on his arm, the other a twisted contrivance of long, thick thorns. I already knew what it was for, yet my heart still lurched at the sight of what would be my next humiliation. The other soldiers stopped what they were doing and looked on in quiet amusement.
"There is our King! Bow to the King," said the taller of the two as he quickly swung the thick robe on my shoulders. My body wanted to scream, but I bit my tongue and swallowed my pain.
The other soldier mockingly bowed before me, the crown of thorns lifted high, just inches from my face.
"Our King needs his crown," he said. His evil eyes gleamed yet I saw nothing but darkness in their depths.
Quickly, he rose and stood before me, lifting the crown of thorns as high as he could. Then, in one swift movement, he jammed it on my head with a force that belied his stature, burying the thick, sharp thorns deep into my forehead and scalp. I had braced myself for that, yet the agony from its actual impact still brought stinging tears to my eyes. How much more could this mortal body take?
Two more soldiers came into the cell, laughing, mocking the worm of a man in front of them. I was getting sorely tempted to retaliate. I could easily take their life; knock them down dead on the ground with just one breath. I could even bring the entire regiment down to their knees with just a flick of my finger. But my Spirit resisted the human urgings within me. I was, after all, not here on a mission of conquest. That will come much laterwhen I return as the Lion of Judah to claim my people. But for now, my mission was one of mercy and hope. I was here to serve. And a servant must always be humble before his masters. And so, I tamped down whatever human pride I had left and accepted all degradation in silence.
A shout from the courtyard brought the soldiers running back out, leaving me alone to contemplate my fate for at least a few minutes more. There really was nothing left to ponder. I was on the final leg of my journey. Whatever hope for deliverance I had entertained before had forever been dashed when I drank of the cup of the Father's wrath last night. I knew then that there would be no turning back after that. My humanself cringedin fear at the thought of my impending sacrifice, yet my Spirit rejoiced at my foreseen triumph. Death would finally lose its hold on Man. They would soon be free from the clutches of sin. The bridge would finally be restored. If only I would hang on and trust the Father.
Two of the soldiers returned and brusquely dragged me to my feet. I almost fainted from the pain that washed over me. But my Spirit was faithful and it strengthened me enough to keep standing. Soon, they were dragging me out into the courtyard where two other soldiers lifted the patibulum onto my shoulders. The weight of the beam itself would've been enough to bring me down to my knees, but one of the soldiers held me up while my arms were being strapped to it. I looked around and saw that the soldier holding me up was one of my two "personal guards". His name was Marcellus.
There was so much grief on his face and he tried to avoid my eyes as much as he could. But once in a while our eyes would meet and I tried to convey as much assurance as I could, let him know that I was not blaming him for anything. He must've felt it, because the last time I looked, there was a glow of peace in his eyes and a slight smile of understanding grazing his lips. If only I could tell him that he need not fear, because he would soon be saved. But my lips were parched and my throat as dry as sand, and so my message of hope was cut off even before I tried to utter it.
As soon as the other soldier was satisfied that I was securely tied to the beam, he gave me a hard push on my back to get me going. Our long trek towards Golgotha was about to begin. Two other men, my fellow condemned, were already being pushed out of the gate. As soon as they were out on the streets, stones started flying at them. It seemed that our death march would be as brutally humiliating as possible. I felt the first stone land on the side of my head right after I had stepped out of the gate. It seemed ironic that the very stone which was created by the Father's will through me was now being used to torment its own creator. The stone pelting only stopped when Marcellus threatened the men with incarceration if they did not stop what they were doing.
Each step I took slowly drained me of strength and will. I had to consciously latch on to my Spiritlestin human frailty I cry out the only word that would stop this ordeal. I need only whisper that word and I would be restored to my true self and let Man be eternally condemned to punishment. I could feel the Enemy lurking around the corners, watching vigilantly for any sign of weakness. It was his expertise – to uncover one's vulnerability and use it to his advantage. Yet he really had no true power lest itbegranted to him. It was the one thing that Man must learn to understand – only by his permission will the Enemy have power over him. If Man would only resist him, he would flee.
I tried to ignore the whisperings of the Enemy and concentrated on my walk. Then, my right foot stepped on a large pebble and the pain radiated from my heel up to my knees, locking it in place. The misstep caused me to lose balance and soon I saw the ground rushing up to meet my battered face. I fell flat on the ground, the weight of the beam grinding me further against its rough surface. The fall knocked the breath out of my body, and I almost lost consciousness if not for the rough hands that quickly pulled me back to my feet. Then, gentler hands steadied me as I struggled to stay on my feet, holding me as I tried to regain composure. I knew without looking that it was Marcellus.
"Hang in there. Just a little bit more," he quietly said. I nodded, ignoring the sharp sting the crown of thorns brought as it dug deeper into my scalp.
I took one tentative step, and I felt my Spirit bolstering my weakened limbs. It gave me the confidence to take another step and shortly I was trudging down the dusty streets of Jerusalem again. The sun was now high up in the sky, glaring down at me, burning my skin to further discomfort. My wounds were starting to fester and I knew that I looked even more horrible now. Knowing that I would be free of all this suffering in a few hours brought little comfort to my aching human shell.
A few more meters and we were met by a group of wailing women. They were being restrained from coming towards me, yet even from afar I could feel the genuineness of their sorrow. Sadness washed over me as I remembered the vision the Father gave me about this city's future. I saw the dead bodies of men, women and children littering the streets, their houses burned to the ground, and the survivors being carted off to parts unknown – slaves to the rich and powerful of the Roman empire. They should not waste their tears on me. They should save them for the time when they would really need them – when they would weep over their children and their children's children.
A hard nudge on the back told me that I should continue moving. I tried as hard as I could to keep on walking, but my legs were turning into water and I fell a second time. A group of men started pelting us with rotten fruit and small rocks. Several hit my back and legs, but I hardly felt them. My whole body was already in perpetual agony, a few morepricksmade no difference. But still, their action cut into my heart. And I almost wept for them. Had I given in to my human desires, I would've hurled curses at them. But my Spirit was merciful and so I prayed for them instead.
As the soldiers tried to subdue the crowd, a woman came towards me and offered me a scrap of white linen cloth. Tears were streaming down her cheeks as she gently pressed the cloth over my face, absorbing the blood that was now coating it. She was about to give me a drink of water when a soldier quickly came to us and knocked away the jug that she was holding.
"No drink! He is not to be given relief!" He shouted at the woman.
I turned to her and gave her one short nod. It was enough for her. She quickly rose to her feet and ran back towards the alley from which she came. The soldier reached down and grabbed me by the arm, another one held onto the beam that was now like just another appendage. Strangely, the beam seemed to get heavier with every step I took. Or perhaps it only felt that way because my body was slowly shutting down now. Only my Spirit kept it going.
And so, once again I was back to marching down the narrow streets of Jerusalem. Soon we would reach the gate that would lead to the outside of the city; on a narrower path to Golgotha. I managed to walk a few meters farther, but then my legs just collapsed and I fell a third time. One of our escorts started flogging me, exasperated perhaps by my constant falling. He only stopped when Marcellus came back and reminded him that I was to die by crucifixion and not by flogging. After the other soldier turned away from me and vented his fury on the unruly crowd, Marcellus came to my side and tried to help me up. My legs, however, no longer had the strength to support my weight and the added weight of the beam.
"I'll try to find someone to help you," he whispered in my ear.
I knew that it was not normal practice for condemned criminals to receive any form of help while being punished. Indeed, Marcellus was risking rebuke himself by going against the norm. Yet he seemed more concerned about me than his possible castigation. He did not know it yet, but his kindness had already secured him a place in my Kingdom. I saw him talking to a tall, burly man. There was fear in the man's eyes but he nodded and followed Marcellus back to where I sat.
"Come on, Teacher," Marcellus said as he helped me up to my feet. "This is Simon, from Cyrene. He will help you carry the beam."
I nodded and turned towards the man, expressing my gratitude through a simple closing of my eyes. He, too, will have a place in my Kingdom because his life will now be changed. I didn't have enough strength to do anything more, but somehow Simon understood. He nodded back and wrapped his arm around my waist, pulling me up beside him. Once we're settled, we began our silent trek towards Golgotha.
We had passed the gates of the city and the hill of the skull loomed now before us. I looked up and saw three postsbuttingout at the top – our place of execution. Somehow, my humanity resurfaced and my vision blurred, my heart skipped a beat and my legs turned to liquid. I would've fallen again had it not been for the quick reflexes of Simon and Marcellus. I felt their hands holding me up once more.
"Just a little bit more, we're almost there," Simon said.
"Hang on, it will soon be over," Marcellus whispered to me.
And, indeed, it soon shall be. Finally!
I tried to focus on blocking out the pain, the fear and the hopelessness that was now trying to get hold of me. I must remind myself of the true nature of my mission. Focus on the words of the Father and the counsel of my Spirit.
Eventually, we reached the top of the hill with Simon helping me up. We walked nearer the center, Simonhalf-carryingand half-dragging me up until the executioners pushed him out of the way and grabbed me roughly by my tunic. This was quickly split down the middle, stripped off my battered frame then, tossed to the ground. Next, they tore away my bloody loincloth, leaving me completely naked and exposed. It was the ultimate humiliation of a Roman crucifixion. Nothing was left to the victim, not even his dignity.
Now came the dreaded nailing to the beams and post. One of the soldiers came forward with a bucketful of 6-8 inch iron nails and dropped it carelessly to the ground beside me. I purposely averted my eyes lest my humanity reasserts itself and force me to cry out the word that would stop it all. One of the executioners pushed me down to a kneeling position. After which, a quick kick to the chest sent me sprawling backward with the beam. The other executioner knelt beside me and stretched out my arm on the wooden beam while the other one positioned the monstrous nail against my wrist.
Much as I tried to focus my mind on other things, the moment the nail went through my wrist, I became nothing more than a bundle of raw nerves. And if that was bad, it was multiplied a hundredfold when my feet were nailed to the post. Nothing, not even my talks with the Father, could have prepared me for this new level of suffering. I closed my eyes as I felt them lifting me up with the post. I willed myself to ignore the screams of my flesh. It was only when I heard the ropes being drawn away that I let myself survey this last patch of the earth that I would see.
A crowd had gathered a few feet away from where we were displayed. My fellow condemned were placed on either side of me. They were both lost in their own miserable thoughts and I knew that only one of them was truly repentant of his sins. I heard the mocking voices of the spectators below, the angry protestations of the Pharisees, and the quiet weeping of those who sympathized with us. But I hardly understood them for my thoughts went back to the time of the beginning, when my fate was first decided and sealed.
Manhad just fallen from grace, just as the Father knew he would. The first sin had already been committed by Adam and his wife, Eve. The punishment for sin was death – physical and spiritual death. The former was temporary but the latter was eternal.Manwas at fault, yet we could not bear to completely cut him off from the grace of heaven. And so it was ordained that just as death was brought into the world by one man, so must one man release the world from death.
"One man brought sin into the world," the Father said.
"And one man will save the world from sin," I replied.
"Do you love them enough?"
"Yes, I do."
"The price would be steep. Only by blood will justice be served. Will you be willing to leave your place in heaven and dwell amongst them? You would have to take on flesh, and everything that goes with it. You will experience everything that humans experience."
"When the time comes, the Spirit will be with you to strengthen you."
And so, I left the comforts of heaven and dwelt amongst men; partaking of everything that made man human. When the time for me to begin my work came, the Father sent me the Spirit to be my companion and guide. And He has not left me. Even when the Father had to turn his eye from me, for just this time, the Spirit remained with me.
"Hey,you! Hey! Are you still there?" The voice of the one on my left intruded into my thoughts. His name was Hestas. He was condemned to death for stealing from a Roman and for instigating a riot in the city.
I opened my eyes and turned to him. If only he would repent, I could bring him with me to Paradise this very day. But there was nothing but malice inside his heart.
"They say that you're a miracle worker. If you really are, why don't you come down from there? Save yourself! And save us, too!" he said mockingly.
"Leave him alone! Have you no fear of the Lord? I've seen the works of this man. And he has done nothing wrong! He does not deserve to share our fate and yet you mock him!" the one on my right, Dimas, cried out to Hestas. He was also a thief, yet he would not share Hestas' fate since I had already seen true repentance in his heart.
Hestas ignored him and went back to his misery, grumbling under his breath, cursing all Romans and the righteous Pharisees alike.
"Teacher, please do not forget me when you come into glory," Dimas quietly said.
I turned to him and tried to smile, my lips cracking painfully in the process.
"I tell you truly, this day you shall be with me in Paradise," I said, the words grating at my throat like sandpaper.
My Spirit rejoiced when Dimas smiled, peace finally descending on his bruised face. He was most likely beaten as well, but not nearly as much as I had been.
I looked down and saw the soldiers gambling over my clothes, the robe that was put on me and even my macabre crown. I should hate them for what they had done to me, and for what they were still doing. But all I felt waspityfor their misguided minds. Instead of a curse, I whispered a silent prayer for them, "Father, forgive them. They're just lost and they do not understand what they are doing."
A sharp cry from below brought my attention back to the gathered spectators. I scanned the crowd and saw a few familiar faces. There was Mary, the woman who gave birth to me, graciously lending me her humanity. Her eyes were swollen and her body was being wracked by heart-wrenching sobs. Holding her was John, my friend, and student. Beside them was another one of my faithful followers, the one from whom I had exorcised seven demons. She was also named Mary.
My human heart clenched at the sight. From the hundreds who followed me, not including those who belonged to my inner circle, my so-called "disciples", the twelve whom I had handpicked, only these three were brave enough to share in my final hours. But I could not blame the others; they all had been overtaken with fear and doubt.
Peter, for sure, was still wallowing in regret over his denial of me early this morning. It happened just as I had foreseen. And I had already forgiven him long before he even thought of coming to that courtyard last night. He would come around and he would be the leader of my new Church. Together with Saul, a passionate, fiery man whom I have yet to call to service, they would bring the Good News of Salvation to the ends of the earth. The others were not lost either. They would return to the fold and bear witness to hundreds and hundreds of people, even up to the point of martyrdom. Only John would be spared that kind of sacrifice. There was a different path set for him. My Spirit will strengthen them all when the time comes.
Only one was truly lost. But that was only because he chose to end his life rather than seek forgiveness. If only he did, he would've known that I had already forgiven him a long, long time ago. I had forgiven him on the day that I invited him into my circle, because even then, I knew that he would be the one to betray me.
I saw the Centurion come up to my mother. He spoke with John and together, they helped her come nearer to me. I saw my mother stretch out her hands to me, tears streaming down her face. Any mother's heart would've been broken at the sight of her son being strung up a tree, bloodied and mutilated, counting the hours before death's release. And I felt her sorrow like it was my own. But, I had to make her realize that I was no longer her son, I had already accomplished my mission and I will be returning to the Father soon.
I tried to clear my throat, but there was nothing to even ease the dryness that seemed to have settled there. I willed myself to ignore the pain.I must do this one last thing for her, at least. Her final reward awaits her in heaven, but I wanted to give her this little consolation for all the love she had showered me with while I was still her son.
"Woman, there is your son," I said to her. Her brows knotted in confusion, unable to comprehend what I meant. I turned my eyes to John and somehow she understood.
"Son, there is your mother," I said to John. He nodded, assuring me that he knew what I was asking him to do. John would look after her, like a true son, until the very end of her life here. Then, he must go off and fulfill his own mission.
Strange how those two, brief sentences exhausted me so much when I used to speak for almost a whole day, teaching and preaching everywhere I went. My body must now be close to the last of its reserves. Even the pain was becoming more and more intense, nearly unbearable. Breathing was pure agony. I had to lift myself up, brace my feet on the wooden footrest to which my feet had been nailed, just so my lungs would expand enough to take in air. If I did not, they would collapse and the rest of my body would shut down.
But what I found really intolerable was the thirst. It was like I was burning from the inside, my throat, an arid desert deprived of rain. My tongue felt alien inside my mouth, like a rough towel left in the sun to dry. I feared that I would choke on it if I had the misfortune of swallowing it accidentally.
"I thirst!" My lips uttered before I could stop myself.
Below, I heard the Centurion calling out to the conscript handling the bucket filled with a liquid mixture of vinegar, gall, and myrrh. The Centurion took the sponge floating inside it and placed it on the tip of a spear. He then instructed the young man to offer it up to me.
I felt the sponge touching my lips. It was cold and very tempting. My lips and tongue craved the coolness and relief that the mixture would bring. Yet, my Spirit resisted. There was wine in the concoction and I must not drink of the fruit of the vine until I return as Conqueror. And so, I turned my head away from the sponge and refused this little bit of consolation.
The sun had now reached its peak, scorching the earth, burning my wounded skin to a crisp. And as I squirmed to find even a little comfort on my perch, my humanity asserted itself, and I gave in to the despair that had been brewing inside me.
How long must I suffer before I can finally be reprieved of this punishment? Why did I have to be the one to bear it all? Haven't I done enough? Was I a good servant? Was I good enough? Was there really a divine purpose to all of this? What if I was wrong? What if everything was just inside my head? What if I made it all up? Where is my Father? Why did he send me to this wretched place? Why did he let me bear all the pain? Why me?
"My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?" I cried out in anguish.
I looked up to the heavens searching for a miracle. I had performed so many of them, why can't I make one now? I cried out in torment, fixed my eyes on the blazing sky, and pled for some sign. I waited for heaven to reply, but it remained silent. The reply came from within me, from the Spirit that had been guiding me since I was but a child. It spoke in a language that very few understood, a language that needed no words.
And just like that, peace enveloped me, calmed my restless human heart, and restored my faith in my true self, in the mission that I had been entrusted with. My Spirit assured me of the rightness of my path, of the sureness of my victory. I had done what no other man could – restore the bridge that sin had destroyed.
I could feel my mortal body gradually shutting down. My heart was now beating erratically, my lungs collapsing from exhaustion, and my legs refusing to hold me up long enough to gasp for air. It was now time to give my much abused human form the rest it deserved. I had accomplished what I had come to do. Now, I can utter the word that I had bitten back for far too long – "Enough!"
And it seemed that it was the only thing that my tired, overworked body was waiting for. I felt my heart slowing down, denying blood to my veins, cutting its supply to my oozing wounds.
I lifted my eyes to the heavens, there were now dark clouds blocking the afternoon sun, and a cold breeze had suddenly come in from the north.
From below the recesses of the earth, I heard an eerie, inhuman scream. It was a scream of frustration and defeat.
My heart was now down to the last of its preordained beats, and my eyes were now blurring.
So, this is what it feels like to be human. This is what dying feels like.
"It is finished," I whispered. Finally! I had done what I had come for.Manwas now reconciled with the Father! Through my blood, I had freed Man!
There was only one thing left to do.
I braced my feet against the wooden footrest, pushed myself up and with my last human breath, I shouted: "Father, into your hands, I surrender my Spirit!"
The Heavens opened and a thunderous voice replied, "Well done, my Good and Faithful Servant!"
(Or should I say...The Beginning..)
Although the brutal and inhumane form of punishment known as the crucifixion is largely attributed to the Roman Empire, its history can be traced as far back as 519BC during the time of King Darius of Persia when he crucified his political opponents in Babylon. But it was only during the height of Roman power that this form of punishment was commonly implemented as a punishment for capital crimes.
The flagrum was a whip with a short handle and generally two or three long thick thongs, each weighted at some distance from their extremity with lead balls or mutton bones. In action, the thongs cut the skin, while the balls or bones created deep contusions. The result was significant hemorrhage and considerable weakening of the vital resistance of the victim. In compensation, if one may call it that, this weakening shortened their agony on the cross.
The patibulum or the cross-arm was a wood plank or beam that the condemned usually carry on their backs to the place of execution. It will be affixed to the upright posts called "stripes" generally set on the ground before the arrival of the condemned, thus when placed together will form a "cross".
Note: This is a work of literary fiction. It is not intended to teach or preach. It does not seek to presume anything, other than what this writer thinks may have happened.