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Today's Story by Benjamin Wachs

He remembered the look on Galileo's face, the look in his eyes, the last time they spoke, so long ago.


The sage sat on a stone wall overlooking the green field, holding the bulb of a tulip in the palm of his hand.  The petals were cold and smooth.  He closed his hand, crushing the bulb, and opened it again.  A rose blossom sat in his hand.  The smell of the tulip still lingered in the air.  Far away, he heard a shepherd singing.  Farther away, a platoon marched towards the valley.  He closed his hand;  a few thorns pricked his skin and drew blood.

He remembered Galileo, whose research had been funded by the church, who spoke blasphemy against his patron, who was punished, who recanted, and who kept a secret journal documenting his thoughts on the one subject he could not speak.  He remembered the look on his face, the look in his eyes, the last time they spoke, so long ago.

He opened his hand.  A lily this time, purest white.  He closed his hand.  He opened it.  A lilac, whose scent quickly overpowered all the rest.  He closed his hand again.

All the flowers felt the same:  smooth, cold, delicate.  As though it would be unbearable to lie upon a sheet of them.

The soldiers were coming.  The shepherd began a new song.  It is not much of a trick, the sage thought, to change one flower to another.  Far more powerful transformations happen to us all.

He did not want to wear Gallileo’s eyes.  No, he did not want that.  He wanted a war with His Holiness even less.

He opened his hand again.  The tulip hovered in the air for a moment, then fell to the ground.  The sage was gone, and a cobbler hobbled over the field, waving to the shepherd, and back to his hut.


Benjamin Wachs has written for Village Voice Media, Playboy.com, and NPR among other venues.  He archives his work at www.TheWachsGallery.com.

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