Another kind of leper. (flash fiction)

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She stood out in the crowd, not so much for her beauty, apparent even under the plain headdress overshadowing her face, but for the way people moved away from her, even in such a crowd, distaining to touch her. The smear of red, still staining her lips from the previous application, gave the clue. She was a prostitute. He smiled, seeing the heart within.
She looked away, confused. He must not know, she told herself, but she knew he did. Embarrassed, her bold front crumbled, scorn she could handle, but not compassion.
His smile haunted her dreams that night. Could a man care for her, not just use her for her body? She’d had men mad for her, in love with her, but always secretly, behind closed doors, never an open smile like that one. There had been no sweeping look of the eyes, lingering on her bosom. It was not a look of lust…
Her hand trembled as she knocked at the door. It had been easy to find him, everyone was talking about him, but why must he come here of all places? As she’d expected, the door and was abruptly slammed in her face, but she wasn’t accepting that. Slamming her body into the attendant, she pushed her way in. He recoiled, not at her meagre force, but in horror that she’d touched him, sullied him. It was the same with all of them as she forced her way into the gathering…
There he sat amidst the throng of angry, staring faces. But his face was not angry, instead a look of welcome, even …empathy? He smiled again.
“Master don’t you know? This woman is a sinner!”
“I know.” Mary collapsed at the sanctuary of his feet. He didn’t pull away. Gushing tears washed over his feet and as she wiped them away with her hair he said…
“Your sins, and I know they are many, are forgiven because of the greatness of your love.” He smiled and light embraced Mary’s world.

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