I am born in pain and shit and blood. I scream and my mother screams. A difficult labour. It goes on for hours. And we have reason to scream. The cell is cold but it’s safer in here than outside. I am born in chains.
Three Roman soldiers stand by the door laughing and jeering. Their sweaty faces and hands are disgusting. They stare at us. Eyes popping out. I see them leering as I head out into the world.
‘You made a fine bed there, Christian.’ the first says.
‘See what happens when you lie down with pagans, do you?’ says the second.
‘You’re not loving it now though are you Pet?’ laughs the third. They mock as I make my way into the world. A fine beginning you’ll agree.
Felicitas does her best to clean me up but there is not much she can do here to make it clean. Even the rats refuse to stay. She wraps me up and holds me close. I can hear her heart beating. I like her face. She has a gentle smile. She won’t have it for long though.
My mother is worn out. Her work is done for now. She has more to face too. But for now she can rest. I take to her breast without any argument. I am made for suckling. I enjoy it while it lasts. I know what is to come. My mother has made her choice. I am no fool. She chose Him over me. I heard it all inside her belly.
The prayers and chants.
The splash of water.
My grandfather pleading with her to recant. To return to the gods of her birth.
But did she listen? No, but she has always been stubborn. She wasn’t thinking of me though. Instead of me she chose the martyrs’ road. But no one thought of me did they? No one asked me if I wanted to convert?
I suck the milk from my mother’s breast but not for long. Not for long.