The man with the torch – The Viaticum by Leonardo Alenza

The viaticum by Leonardo Alenza

A flame illuminated the square. At the centre, a man held a torch, relating stories from the past, things he had only seen in his mind. The war was imminent and people from the village gathered as the sound of guns echoed in the distance. Troops of soldiers and cavalries marched along the river in the direction of the inhabited lands to conquer them all. The villagers knew the government had fled, leaving the population without protection; cowards, they had left everyone helpless.

In the darkness, neighbours found the necessary hope to live one more day in each other’s company. A feeling of solidarity and compassion rose in everyone’s hearts as they stood praying and listening to the man with the torch.

The words which came from his mouth were the images he envisioned in his dreams. He saw a little boy  running in a meadow towards a swarm of butterflies of a million different colours, and as he tried to catch one of them with his frail fingers, a lagoon blue bird appeared unexpectedly in the sky and took away the child, who settled on the bird’s back, holding tight onto the velvety feathers.

Children listening attentively expressed their enthusiasm for the stories and at the same time yelled out in unison “whoa”. The man holding the torch smiled as he could feel the hearts of the little boys and girls being distracted from the torment of their doomed lives. The adults nearby shed a tear or two, grateful for the presence of the man and his torch, filling the night with the spark of life they were desperate to rekindle.

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