Hands of a Healer

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They come to me as soon as the gates open. The weak, the sick. The afflicted. They come with their sores, with their pain, with their addled children, their confused elders, and I touch them all. One after the other. Their heads, their hands. The words I mutter mean nothing, they are jargon, worthless rhymes that my masters create for me to make it sound convincing. The words mean nothing.

But they are healed anyway.

Healed with my hands, healed with the touch of my fingers, with my breath on their skin, on their wounds. The mothers weep, the fathers pay. Gold flows into my master’s purse, and I know that, tonight at least, he’ll leave me alone. My cell will have bread in it tonight, meat too, since there’s more gold than silver today.

Some days, when there’s more copper than silver and gold is as scarce as a winter’s sun, he leaves me nothing but stale crumbs and a solid beating.

I touch the head of a bent old crone, whisper something that sounds like a blessing, and she straightens up to thank me, her pain relieved. For a moment, anyway. I kiss her forehead, let her weep into my hands, and try not to cry myself. Tomorrow, she’ll curse my name to the heavens. They always do, I know it. But I’m never here to hear it.

I wish I could be. I deserve every curse for what I’m doing to them.

My master looks at me, a frown flickering across his face, and I move on to the next poor soul. The children stare at me, as if I am a ghost or a demon or a god, and I smile at them. I’m not a demon, although I feel like one some nights. Not a magician either, although that’s what people whisper. I am a sideshow, a circus freak, and their healing is for entertainment only. Entertainment and wealth.

It will not last. Although I wish it would.

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