She knows that she smells, the fear almost chokes her. Knowing what will happen if she is spotted in this crowd. She can almost feel the burden of shame pressing down on her, making walking hard. Along with her condition, which always impairs her movements. Mustn’t show, mustn’t make herself vulnerable. And most importantly, mustn’t make any contact with anyone. Or even be seen to be close. Impossible in this crowd, and so she buries her head, crouches low and burrows through, like a small creature fearful of being attacked. And there he is… she can’t see his face, but she recognises his robe. And if she can make contact, just with the very edge of his clothes, perhaps he won’t be made too unclean by her. Perhaps he won’t even notice, but she believes that she will. Somehow changed by his power. That’s’ her desperate hope. They say he can heal all kinds of things, even raise the dead. Well she has felt dead for a long time, maybe resurrection can come her way today. She makes a grab for him, but a leg crosses in front of her. She tries again, he moves too quickly. This crowd is vast and if nothing else that means the sweat masks the fearful stench of her own sickness. She tries again, and in reaching she loses her footing, but as she goes down her hand brushes him, and there is a jolt, she feels it, her body tingling as the warm and gentle shock passes through her. She’s so entranced by it she doesn’t notice the crowd going silent. It takes a moment to realise everyone has stopped moving. So this is it then. The end. The punishment for her crime. She should have stayed away, should have hidden herself. She has acted profanely, brought a slur on the name of God, destroyed the purity of this holy man from Nazareth. He’s saying something, asking for someone, looking around.

There are shouts in the crowd, people telling him not to worry. But he won’t move and slowly the crowd opens and there he is, his face looking at her. His eyes boring into her. And then the question she dreads.
‘Who touched me?’
Silence. She drops her head, swallows hard. Grips her hands into grubby fists. She can still feel the touch, the contact she made, the brush of his clothing on her fingers.
‘Who touched me?’
There is somehow warmth in the question, and so she dares look up.
‘Who touched me?’
He is smiling. There is welcome in his gaze now.
‘I… I did… I… I touched you.’
And now he has dropped to her level, and horror of horrors, he is taking her hand. Doesn’t he know she will contaminate him? He’ll have to wash, isolate himself, keep away from everyone, she’ll ruin his mission. But he’s still smiling, and now he’s cupping both her hands in his. He is looking deep into her face and saying something about being clean, and not in some subtle way, but so everyone can hear. She feels a burden lifting somehow, as he lifts her to her feet, and her shame begins to melt.
She hasn’t done anything right, anything she was supposed to do, she’s got so much wrong, and yet, she feels different. Lighter. And she realises no man has ever looked at her with such respect before.
She is new. She is whole. She is clean.

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