He was only sitting

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He was only sitting in the park minding his own business when it happened. Everyone had told him not to feed the pigeons because they will get too bold and besides they might carry diseases. Now this was his punishment, although no one thought it was fair. Love started gushing out of him like from an open wound, this would surely leave a scar.

A young woman screamed and people scrambled to get away from him. Give him space to breathe! People were not sure whom to call but surely there must be an authority to take care of these cases.

He smiled stupidly, hardly even knowing what was going on. All these panicking people were so beautiful he wanted to laugh. For a while it looked like he had recovered from this malady but it turned out that – instead of continuously streaming out – his love formed big bubbles that were only faintly red, people could hardly see them.

Two best friends got caught in one, an elderly couple, even children were trapped and like soap bubbles they floated high, rising above the earth and crossing the seas. Some of them disappeared behind the sun. When the whole town was covered in another bubble nobody noticed anything special anymore but there were more birds singing.

He looked exhausted, not so much from the disease but from people’s efforts to contain it. When he moved his feet on the gravel it sounded like music, he found the grass and the hedges fascinating. People shook their heads but accepted his condition as he was merely eccentric, not dangerous.

One day a stranger came into town, a woman who had followed the glow on the horizon. When she smiled he knew she could lead him to the land of light. They walked out of town, into the woods, and with her desire she healed him.

People started missing his presence, he might not have been much but it was sad to lose the village idiot. But in the autumn he came back, looking satisfied but wistful. Now he sits on the bench once more, looking up at the sky as though waiting for something. Everything seems normal again, perhaps he looks a bit sad. But most people don’t notice him anymore anyway.

Comment: these early stories were written almost 11 years ago, this one on 21/02/11. In many cases I’m not sure whether I like them anymore. This story has more than a hint of irony in it, which makes me wonder now how to read it. It’s possible to see it as a reflection on how the presence of love doesn’t mean it’s reciprocated or even understood, and how it may bring more light into the world even while nobody appreciates it. But I think the story works better if you think of it as a broader allegory on religious figures and how their messages are received, whether truthful or not. Generally I like ambiguity and letting readers decide how to see the characters and their meanings, but looking back on this story now I wonder whether I should have directed the reader a bit more towards an allegorical interpretation.