Timothy Griffioen

    It was early morning, right about the time when Horus was taken for his daily walk. Well, it wasn’t really Horus; it was a Divine Statue of him, but it allowed us to be close to him. 

    Most of the day Horus sat in a dark, tall room, right at the top of the temple. But in the mornings, he gets taken out so that people can ask him questions. It was hilarious seeing people asking Horus for advice, then walking away, head hanging, when he rocked backwards to say ‘no’. 

    I’m a priest in training. At eighteen years old, I don’t know how much longer I will remain an apprentice. I study in the Edfu Temple, the largest temple dedicated to Horus. That means I have a lot to live up to.

    I was standing behind a pillar, waiting to sneak into the sanctuary, where Horus sat. As a dare, I was going to sign my name on the statue. I was supposed to be part of Horus’ honour guard, but I had swapped out with Gyasi.

    As usual, the High Priest stood in front of the door, muttering the same prayers we are made to say every morning. Eventually, he opened the doors. Four other priests came and carried out the Barque, the boat-like structure on which Horus sat. These priests had to be immensely strong to carry the gold statue.

    The High Priest closed the door behind him but did not lock it. I heard their footsteps echo throughout the chamber, fading as they exited the room. Once they were out of sight I slipped into the sanctuary. Now it was just a matter of time before Horus was placed back in this room, with me.

    I scale the wall, using the ornate pillars as support. My long black hair, not shaved off yet, fell into my eyes. I paused to flick it off. Most of the other children studying to be a priest spent their time scouring texts and studying the Duat. Meanwhile, me and my close groups of friends would wrestle. That was why I was so great at climbing.

    After a time, the priests returned the statue. Sitting on an alcove, I saw the High Priest come in and bow, his bald head glistening in the little light. He thanked the statue for his help, then left, muttering prayers and never turning his back. The door shut, and I heard the lock click.

    It’s showtime I think, as I slid down the wall. The statue of Horus isn’t huge, but I do have to stand on the altar in front of him to reach his chin. This is where I will draw my name, in small, dark ink, so that you can only see it if you are looking for it.

    I start to write, slowly, trying not to make it any bigger than I had to. I push too hard, and the statue starts to topple backwards, but I quickly right it. I finish and stand back to admire my handiwork.

    In this light, it looks barely more than a smudge of dust. The priests will not see it unless they stand directly under the chin or look at it from a certain angle. My friends will see it when I point it out to them.

    Then I hear footsteps approaching. Quickly, I scramble away, my foot catching Horus’ foot. I fall but get back up in time to hide behind a pillar when the High Priest enters. I glanced at the statue, hoping that no marks showed I had touched it.

    Suddenly, I realise that the statue is toppling. No, no, no, no, no! I think to myself, desperately trying to wish the statue back up. The High Priest is staring at Horus, frozen in horror. Then he rushes forward, trying to stop it from falling.

    He is too late. Horus fell backwards, his head hitting the wall. An almighty crack resounds throughout the chamber. Luckily, the head hasn’t broken. The statue is stuck, leaning at a forty-five-degree angle.

    I slip out of the building, ready to tell my friends all about what had happened in the sanctuary. Boy, would we have a good laugh when I pointed out my name on Horus’ golden chin. 

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