Simon's Cross

By Stan Peal


Simon returns from his day in Jerusalem and Ruth gives him an earful for being late until she learns that he helped carry a condemned man’s cross. Simon tells her there was something very special about the man who was to be crucified.


Simon, a Cyrene
Ruth, his wife


(SIMON enters the stage very preoccupied, as if he’s just been through a perplexing ordeal. RUTH, his wife, hears him enter and rushes in. He says nothing, finally she speaks..)

RUTH.  Well?

SIMON.  …Hi.

RUTH.  That’s it? Hi? (Simon doesn’t respond) Where have you been?

SIMON.  Jerusalem.

RUTH.  I assumed that. You went this morning to get food. You spent the whole day in the city?

SIMON.  Yes.

RUTH.  Would you mind telling me what you’ve been doing in town all day?

SIMON.  I was on my way to the market.

RUTH.  Do you know how long Ruben and Sarah were sitting here? With no food, nothing to drink, do you know how long?

SIMON.  I imagine they were…

RUTH.  Three hours! We just sat here and stared at each other wondering where you were. I finally had to send them home. So they could at least eat before the sun went down. But did I get to eat? I had to wait here for you.

SIMON.  I’m sorry, there was just so much…

RUTH.  So, where is the food you were supposed to bring back?

SIMON.    …oops.

RUTH.  Simon!

SIMON.   I’m sorry. I guess I just got so swept up in what was happening.

RUTH.  What was happening?

SIMON.  I was on my way to the market. There was a parade of prisoners being taken to the Skull to be crucified. They were carrying their own cross and one of the men collapsed. So they took me out of the crowd to carry his cross for him. So I did.

RUTH.  (Pause) And I’m suppose to believe that?

SIMON.  Of course. Why would I make it up?

RUTH.  (Sarcastically) I don’t know Simon, but you’re going to have to come up with a better story than that if you ever expect me to cook for you again. (She slaps him on the the back, like a condescending pat on the back, and he suddenly gasps in pain and falls to his knees. She immediately pulls back her hand in shock.) Simon. Your back… let me see your back (She pulls up the back of his shirt and is horrified at what she sees) oh my…dear…what have you done to yourself? Here, sit down; I’m going to get some oil for that…(she runs off stage, he sits in a chair).

SIMON.  I told you. I had to carry a man’s cross. It was a little heavy.

RUTH.  (Coming back with some oil) a little heavy? Your back is completely raw, you’re one big bruise…and all the slivers…what were you thinking?

SIMON.   I had no choice, they took me out of the crowd.

RUTH.  (applying the oil to his back with a sponge or cloth) Filthy Romans. I’m so sick of them. Who do they think they are, they treat us like slaves and nobody does a thing about it.

SIMON.  Actually, the man whose cross I carried was challenging their authority.

RUTH.  Why does this always seem to happen to you? It seems like every time you go into town you attract some kind of trouble.

SIMON.  It’s just a talent I have.

RUTH.  (Shaking her head) Darling, you’ve really done a job on your back

SIMON.  Yes, but when it heals, it will be stronger than ever.

RUTH.  (Pause) I suppose. If it heals. If you didn’t do any permanent damage, and if an infection doesn’t develop.

SIMON.  That’s why I’m so thankful to have you. You take such good care of me.

RUTH.  And while you’re recovering guess who has to go into town for food?

SIMON.  I can still walk.

RUTH.  Oh, no you don’t. You need rest. Besides, who knows what trouble you’ll find next time you go into town? (Finishing applying oil, she gets some gauze or cheese cloth to cover his back, and a long strip of cloth to wrap around it) Why couldn’t this prisoner carry his own cross?

SIMON.  He looked like he’d been beaten. Much more than the usual beatings. This fellow could barely move. His face was so swollen he could hardly open his eyes. And there was some kind of binding of thorns around his head. He was constantly trying to rub the blood out of his eyes, but there was blood on his hands too. Blood everywhere. There were lash marks and welts all over him. All at different stages of healing, like he’d been beaten all night. It was hard to imagine what he once looked like.

RUTH.  (She begins to cover and wrap his wounds). What did he do to merit such a beating?

SIMON.  Have you ever heard of Jesus the Nazarene?

RUTH.  The man that calls himself God? He’s the one that was being executed? They beat him that severely for being crazy?

SIMON.  I take it you don’t believe his claims.

RUTH.  Of course not.

SIMON.  Have you ever really thought about it?

RUTH.  You mean besides the fact that it’s so obviously ridiculous? As a matter of fact, yes, I’ve thought about it.

SIMON.  And you don’t see even the slightest possibility?

RUTH.   Why would a god make himself a man? And if he is a god, why were they able to crucify him? It doesn’t take a Rabbi to figure it out. He was just some poor, deluded man.

SIMON.  If you could have heard him speak. Even with the pain he was in. He could barely move his jaw against the swelling. But it was like…hearing wisdom spoken from…something greater than all of us. The coming of the Messiah has been prophesied. Stories about this man healing the sick, performing miracles…

RUTH.   So where was all this power when he was being crucified?

SIMON.  When they put that cross on my back, it felt like the weight of the world was on me. Like they had placed destiny on my shoulders. It felt important. It felt like an honor.

RUTH.  That doesn’t make sense. If you think he might be the Messiah, then how could you feel good about helping with his execution.

SIMON.   But it didn’t feel like an execution. It felt like a ceremony. Like the fulfillment of a prophesy. He wanted it to happen. He wasn’t resisting. If anything, he was driven to continue, but his body just collapsed. So I continued the burden for him.  It was an honor. I believed in him. I believe that I was part of something that made sense. I just don’t understand how…

RUTH.  How what?

SIMON.   The cross. It was like a tree trunk. I’ve never been able to carry something that size, not at my best could I ever carry something like that. But the strength came to me. From somewhere.

RUTH.  (Now finished wrapping him) You need to rest now. (She guides him offstage).

SIMON.   I carried it all the way to the Skull. I believed in him. And I carried it. I carried it to the end


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