Stigmata 2020

A story from my upcoming collection of short stories, The Modern Absurdist.

Rita self-identified as an atheist. Yet deep down in her soul, she could feel the grace of God, whenever the sun shone upon her face. She knew it was a scientific fact that photons emitted from the surface of the sun traveled across the vacuum of space to reach her forehead in precisely eight minutes and twenty seconds. The sunlight created a euphoric sensation in her brain and she unwillingly perceived this happiness as divine. She would tell herself, “It is not God reaching out to me, but the brain releasing a dose of dopamine.” And yet, no matter how hard she tried to wrap herself into the blanket of science, she couldn’t stop herself from feeling God’s love whenever the sun glowed upon her.

Similarly, Rita struggled to explain the wounds that appeared on her hands on her thirty-third birthday.

Her doctor scolded her for self-inflicting the injuries in order to appear as though she was inflicted with the miracle of stigmata. “But I am not religious,” she countered.

The doctor shrugged.

Three days later, the wounds showed no sign of healing and continued to spew her blood. Reluctantly, Rita visited a priest. He looked at her with disbelief. She was not the first Catholic to feign injury in order to appear as though chosen. “Why would you hurt yourself in this way, my child?”

“But I’m not religious,” she said. “I don’t believe in God.”

“Therefore, there’s no reason for you to fake this occurrence,” the priest re-examined her palms. Could he be witnessing the proof of God’s existence? A true miracle.

“Why me, Father? I have no faith”

“It matters not if you believe in God — for God believes in you.”

Rita was getting flustered. “There has to be a scientific explanation.”

“My child, I am but a humble servant of God’s. His will is beyond me, as it is beyond us all. He has chosen you to exemplify his divinity just as he had once selected Mary to carry his son. I can not tell you what you should do next, but I trust you will do as he planned.”

The priest kissed her forehead and she walked out into the sun.

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