It’s an infection no one could understand. She was healthy, capable, and seemingly untouched by illness until one day, she simply couldn’t stand. Her heart seemed to collapse in on itself, and her lungs would not fill completely. She was more sad and lost than she’d ever been before, and her body was deteriorating at an alarming rate.
She sought out specialists and tests, scanning every inch of her body for whatever terrible thing was slowly killing her. Was it a cancer? A parasite? Some sort of virus or infection?
After a while, it seemed she was getting better. Her spirits began to lift with all the attention and affection from her family and friends, and she almost seemed intoxicated with love and joy.
Oddly, those around her seemed affected by her joy, as though it were contagious. When she smiled at others, they could not control their own emotions and would immediately smile back. When she laughed, everyone around her laughed. It was subtle at first, but when nurses, doctors and other patients began flocking to her room to visit the sweet girl… She knew something was definitely going on.
Her fear grew with each new “friend”, and as it did, the feelings in those around her changed as well. Her emotions bloomed in others. Her confusion and fright was mirrored or mimicked in every single person who came near. She realized she had to stay happy, stay pleasant, until she might get some reprieve when she was alone that night. She whispered to her husband to kiss her and tickle her, make her feel loved and cherished so that she might slather those feelings on everyone around her.
It worked for a while, but eventually her ever present tinge of concern crept in. He could not comply with her needs, succumbing to the negative emotions she was emitting, so she told everyone to leave and packed her things. She formulated a plan of escape, and ran away. Isolation seemed the only answer, because she could not bear to be responsible for anyone elses sadness, fear, anger or confusion.
She ran to the ocean, pleading with God to fix her, change her back, remove this sweet disease he’d somehow bestowed upon her. But every time she tested it, it was the same. She could not allow herself to feel anything but happiness around others.
Eventually, she became very skilled at forcing herself to be light and upbeat, and was able to return to her world. Her loved poured over all of those around her. Everyone forgave her absence as quickly as she returned. And for a while, she believed she could possibly live a normal life like that. Coerced joy, however, is very different than the real thing.
At times, negative forces would pull her thoughts and feelings wayward. But she persisted. She would never feed those emotions, and would always, eventually turn things around. Some believed her to be magical. Others thought she was just a gift from God. And a few grew to fear her, as the array of human emotions is not meant to be tampered with.
In the presence of those people, she could not control herself very well, once again causing a negative spiral that wrapped her tightly in an emotive war. An empathetic battle of will. And it broke her.
Her thoughts of self harm radiated from her, but these thoughts did not mimic themselves like her other negative emotions. These thoughts corroded the way her friends and family viewed her. Her self hatred made them hate her, and her suicidal wonderings became murderous intentions in her husband.
She knew she must run away again, but the negativity had breached her health, once again, and she found herself too sick to leave. And too fearful to change her thoughts, emit better feelings, trick herself into being happy.
When he came to her one night, her tears and sadness mirrored in his own eyes, she told him to kill her. She begged him to be done with her. But this only backfired, because she was pleading out of love. His response was to simply love her in return.
In his love, she found peace and devoted herself to loving. As long as she could love, she would free herself from the darkness that would try to drown her and end her.
And so she loved the world.
She looked for it in every sunrise and sunset, she sought after it in every face she saw and hand she shook, she poured it into everything she did and said. And held her other feelings tightly, only letting them spill free when alone with her words.
She found solace in her words and then in the words of others. She found a place where she could paint her world with words, and share them without the pain and suffering of her empathetic gift. It became her sanctuary. An escape from her hiding. Filled with people who understood her, and some who were infected as well. There was still pain to be felt and dealt, but it was just another lesson to learn.
She still suffers from that sweet disease today. She finds ways to live with it, new ways to love every minute. Eventually, she will surely succomb to it. But for now, she’s just that sweet girl who loves everyone and everything in the Universe.