I liked to go where no one could smell my stink, even though I knew it didn’t matter and no one would care. I was always creeping around—behind bushes, along walls, and sometimes stooped low in the tall grass on the outskirts of the city.
Sometimes the neighborhood boys would throw rocks at me. Some would call this taunting. But the hurled objects were dangerous, and I had already suffered some bruises. They taunted me not because of my disease, but because they knew I detested them. But I couldn’t help myself. Once, I had loved people and wanted only the best for them. Yet now I was filled with anger.
I paused to lean against a tree and catch my breath. My disease made me tire easily. Also, I often needed to eat or I would get dizzy. It wasn’t fair. Why did I have to be stuck in a body that was feeble and dying? My stench reflected my impending death—an odor of dead skin.
I ran my fingers over my face, caressing the strange bumps, creases, and oozing glands. I was a mass of decaying tissue. I could feel my body succumbing to death by the moment. I experienced any number of pains for even the smallest misstep. I was in constant danger, my fragile self ready to fall apart in a snapping of bone.
The park was empty save for a homeless man sleeping by a trashcan. I crept off amid the oaks and waited. I knew my father would come. He liked the cool shade of the trees, and he knew how much I was suffering.
At last, he appeared in all his glory, his muscular arms folded across his chest. His robe was so white it blinded my weak eyes. His bearded face bore a frown of concern.
“Father,” I said, “please cure me of this disease and take me home.”
He sighed. “That time will come. But your punishment must be carried out in full. For now, you must remain a mortal man.”