300 Steps

Aztec temple picture

There are 300 steps up to the temple mount where the white marble altar sits gleaming in the sun. As young boys we would race up to the top, but I would always win because I was bigger than my friends. Today I did not race up, because it would not be right for the guest of honour to run ahead of the procession. Instead I walked slowly behind the High Priest, dressed in unfamiliar white linen and flower garlands.

Soon we reached the top and I stood alone with the High Priest while the procession gathered around us silently watching; I could see her standing with her mother, weeping silently, and my heart burned that I could not comfort her. Instead I climbed on to the white stone and lay down, watching the clouds drift by dreamily, until finally the glint of the sun off the priest's long blade drew me back to my destiny.