A Touch Of Desperation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic
Celia is considered an "Unclean" woman by her society. In her search to find a conventional way to change her status she discovers that the answer lies in one desperate touch.

Submitted: August 26, 2014

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Submitted: August 26, 2014



“Celia I’m sorry that you’ve been waiting for so long but I’m afraid Dr. James cannot see you.”
“That’s ok my dear I will come again tomorrow, maybe he will have the time to see me then.”
“No Celia, I don’t think you understand, the doctor will not attend to you again, not tomorrow, not ever unless you can come up with some money for the treatment.”
“But, but I’ve been seeing Dr. James for three years now he has taken the last of my savings. I’ve even had to borrow to complete the treatments. He promised me the procedure would work, he promised me the medication would help. Now I am left with these scars and they are swollen and so painful, I cannot sleep at night, I cry myself to sleep but nothing ever takes this pain away.” Celia cried and the tears flowed freely.
“Celia I truly am sorry…”
“It’s not your fault,” Celia interrupted the nurse, while trying to compose herself. “It’s all mine I agree with my neighbors I must have done something terrible to be visited upon with such a curse.”

As Celia left the building she covered her bony head with a scarf. Her face was sullen and pale like her eyes that had retreated into their sockets seeking protection. Her shoulders were slumped and even with the aid of a walking stick her legs struggled to carry what was left of her the thin, weak frame. Each breath was labored and her voice squeaked “unclean” to passers-by as she entered the domain of the blistering midday sun. “Unclean” she squealed her legally, imposed refrain as she walked through the streets. On hearing her people bustling about immediately made a path for her to get through. She was the picture-perfect painting of a woman defeated.

Celia had always been a fighter. Her mother told her she should have died at birth but by some miracle she survived. That thought had always driven her to excel. She was married once to a handsome lawyer but he was long gone. He divorced and left her one year into her illness. She didn’t blame him though because she was unclean. She couldn’t fulfil her wifely obligations to him nor could she attend to his sexual needs and he couldn’t take any more. She had a prosperous business once. She imported and sold beautiful luxurious fabrics but that too was gone. She was too weak to travel to the distant towns to source her goods and even if she could now she had no more money left.

 Her disease ate though her finances like a plague. Two years after her 18th birthday she had a menstrual cycle that refused to stop flowing. Twelve years later no doctor could accurately diagnose her condition or adequately treat it. In those 12 years Celia had seen eight different doctors. Everyone that was recommended to her she tried. They all poked and prodded her like an animal. She was often so humiliated but she endured it as each physician guaranteed his concoction was the miracle that she sought. Many made her worse. One in particular she recalled made her puke even when she didn’t eat. Another caused her skin to break out in boils that oozed with puss. She travelled from town to city and spent all that she had in the hope that she would be made a whole person. For as she stumbled through this town on her trek back home she was broken, contrite and incomplete. The pain that shred her heart was due only in small measure to the disorder that existed in her lower extremities.

Celia was consumed by her loneliness. By the law of the land her constant bleeding made her unclean. That meant that anyone she touched was rendered unclean. Her family and friends had very little to do with her. They would leave food at her door as even that was now a luxury for her to purchase. Celia could attend no social functions, not that she was strong enough to go even if they did invite her. She was depressed and frustrated with her condition. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying for she wasn’t one to sit idly and wait. She always got up and made things happen. That was how she had become successful. Now, this curse had rendered a severe beating to her body and pummeled her spirit and her will to a pulp.

Although she was almost home Celia had to stop and rest under the shade of a tree. She was anemic, fatigued and dosing off from exhaustion when she saw crowds of people rushing past. There were old women who chatted excitedly as they walked. There were many sickly men assisted by friends and relatives. Celia’s attention was drawn to a father who hoisted his lame daughter on his shoulders.
“Where is everyone going?” She asked when he was close enough to hear.
“To the coastal villages the Great Physician is there.”
“Who is this Great Physician how much does he charge?” She tried to ask but the man would not stop.
“Come see for yourself,” he shouted back, “His services are free…”

As she made it to her home Celia wondered how it was that she had never heard of this Doctor. Was he another fraud or a crook who was advertising something that he could not supply? But then she remembered the faces of the people they looked so hopeful even in their miserable conditions. Oh what she would give to genuinely smile again, to laugh with a friend, to embrace her family, or to be touched by a husband. She let those memories dance on the membranes of her mind in the hope they would usher in sleep but the only thing that embraced her that night was pain. It was a tormenting, wicked grip that sought to take her life. Celia tossed and turned all night as she wrestled with the beast but in a moment of calm that embraced the stillness of the night she heard a small voice whisper, “The Great Physician is able!” Celia sat up in bed like a bolt of lightning had shot through her body. The dawn was now breaking but as she expended her energies to get dressed Celia knew exactly what she had to do.

The journey to the coast was long, the roads were dusty and on more than one occasion she felt like turning back. Determination deep inside her held her and would not let her give up. She was not compelled to voice her “Unclean” chorus for the people did not know of her situation and so she walked on in silence. Finally the water was in sight and a renewed vigor hastened her steps. She believed with her all that this was her last hope. She had no idea who this Doctor was or what He looked like she just knew He held the answer and she was going to find him or die trying.

Her steps slowed and her heart deflated for a moment when she saw the crowds standing at the seaside. The throbbing mass of people was hundreds of times more than what she had seen travelling the route alongside her or even imagined. There were people sitting and standing on the shore waiting on the approaching boats. Celia felt the thickness of the anticipation that saturated the atmosphere and comingled with the smells of the ocean. Everyone wanted something from this man that stepped off the ship. The roar of “Prophet! Master! Teacher! Healer! Jesus!” erupted as everyone tried to get His attention and pushed each other to get to Him. Celia knew He was the One. Suddenly all the attention turned to a leader of the people, an important man who approached with an entourage and fell at the feet of the Doctor.

From where Celia stood she could see the Doctor turning to go with this important man. She saw her chances slipping away with every step that He took away from her. If He will not see me to touch me then I must touch Him she thought to herself. I must be made well. Without formulating a plan Celia, bent and crippled with pain and tiredness but empowered by faith and determination, began to push desperately through the crowds with all her might. The people closed in like a thick brush and she had to stay close to the ground to get through.Eventually she saw the white garment He wore and it seemed to shine. She reached out and managed to touch the back hem before he moved forward with the crowd. Immediately Celia felt a current run from her hands and throughout her entire body. She felt the steady flow of blood slowly come to a stop and she knew she was healed. She stood still suspended in the moment with her eyes closed until she heard an authoritative voice ask “Who touched my clothes?”

When she opened her eyes Celia trembled with fear and she wished to run away for she thought she had made the Doctor unclean by her touch. Everyone looked around but no one confessed to the act. Celia lifted her eyes to focus on the Doctor’s face. All she saw there was love and compassion emanating from Him. They seemed to create a bridge that she willingly glided across and bowed at His feet. Celia sobbed as she told Him her story. Suddenly his warm hands reached down and touched her head, she felt acceptance and she knew she belonged “Daughter,” He called to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your plague.”
Inspired by Mark 5:25-34/Luke 8:40-48

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