Spreading Love | Teen Ink

Spreading Love MAG

April 28, 2008
By Emily Xia BRONZE, Warren, New Jersey
Emily Xia BRONZE, Warren, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

It is night in March, and the sun has set. February would probably be more appropriate for this, but when you get ideas on February twenty-fifth and they require as much effort to ­implement as this one does, well then, February isn’t really an option.

Pierre was drunk when he came up with the idea. He admits it proudly. No shame whatsoever – what’s there to be ashamed of? He’s legal; it’s well known that one is most innovative when inebriated, and it’s not like he had to drive. It’s Paris, and students in Paris don’t drive. “Driving,” Pierre says, “is for the overweight denizens of suburban America, with their gas-guzzling, Kyoto Protocol-violating SUVs.” Paris is the city of love, the greatest city in the world – obviously it must have decent public transportation. Jean-Luc is less loud about the idea, like he is about most things, but he admits that Pierre does come up with decent ideas once in a while.

So now, at 5:30 on a chilly March night, they are setting up on the sidewalk. To their left is a brightly lit ­family restaurant. It isn’t entertaining many patrons, this being a Thursday night. To their right is a boutique that’s already shut for the night and isn’t ­entertaining any patrons at all. Before them is the street; behind them is an ­alley. It’s as good a place to start as any.

Jean-Luc fiddles with the computer, watching it trace curves and figure eights while he straps a kitchen sponge on his right knee to match the one on his left. He reexamines the sponges on his elbows, flicks his helmet for luck, and plops down onto the sidewalk. They have ­already hosed it down and dumped soap on it, so instead of simply falling to the ground and wincing at the impact, he slides along the concrete.

Pierre does the same. They are slipping and rolling and dancing in the street – it’s like breakdancing, but any fun flippy moves are out of the question due to all the soap on the ground and Jean-Luc’s hand-eye coordination, or lack thereof. Instead he is reduced to a – not in any way comical! – scrambling motion, like he’s trying to stand up but not quite succeeding.

And it is then, exactly then, that the foreign students arrive. They are ­accompanied by three middle-aged women, probably their teachers. There are, Jean-Luc guesses, maybe 20 of them. All seem to be female. He imagines they are staring. He knows they’re giggling and chattering in English about the crazy French guys rolling around on the ground.

Any audience, however, is better than none.

He finishes with a squatting pivot around his left foot that makes odd scraping noises, and stands up. He glances at the ground where he’d been shuffling a moment before. Their ­bodies have pushed and prodded the clusters of soap bubbles, crushed and streaked them across the sidewalk in arcing vectors, looping around, seemingly purposeless, but all intercon­nected. They look beautiful, at least.

Pierre is holding his hands up, looking for all the world like an alien. We come in peace. There are ­actually a few boys among the mass of schoolgirls, Jean-Luc notes.

“Do you have a moment?” Pierre asks the group. Some frown without understanding, some stare blankly, some stand on tiptoe ­because they can’t hear. One of the older women says yes. This is Jean-Luc’s cue.

He picks up a clean sponge, exactly like the ones strapped to his joints. Slowly, carefully, he walks toward the students. There is one girl standing near the front, almost sideways. He starts rubbing the sponge on her back. She stands still for a moment, and Jean-Luc thinks, Yes, this might work! A second passes, two, three … and then she shifts, inching to the right. Jean-Luc can see he’s not wanted. It’s a failure.

He tries again.

This time it is a shorter girl, who only comes up to the first girl’s shoulder. Jean-Luc reaches out, and the easiest target is her face. He rubs the sponge against her face, but not like how he’d scrub a dirty counter. Instead he rubs it gently, like –

“No!” one of the women yells in French. “Not her face!” Whereas there had been an almost reverent silence, now a murmur begins snaking through the mass of students, showing in gossip and whispers.

“But can’t you see what we’re ­doing?” Pierre pleads. “We’re using sponges to pass love through the city! It is a grand project! We will all be connected by sponges!” Jean-Luc demonstrates, rubbing his arm mercilessly with the sponge, forging intangible bonds of love. He can see them, connecting him, connecting the two girls who received his treatment.

“No.” The woman stands her ground. “Not her face. She has an ­infection.”

“We are spreading love! Love cares naught for infections!” Jean-Luc demonstrates, stuffing the sponge into his mouth hungrily. He is willing to make contact with infections – only quarantine is harmful. It creates fear, separates people. He sees the students cringe away.

“Don’t touch the children.”

“Well then, obviously it’s not working! We should love each other, don’t you see?”

“Don’t touch the children.”

Pierre throws his hands into the air. “Come on, Jean-Luc,” he says. “We’re leaving.”

Jean-Luc eyes the woman. This looks like it will be harder than they thought. He packs up the sponges, ­piling them on the cart with his laptop. As he and Pierre walk away, the laptop plays “Tristan und Isolde.” Pierre is a fan.

And they are off now, spreading love with sponges.

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This article has 81 comments.

on Feb. 6 2010 at 2:05 pm
Robkingett PLATINUM, Tallahassee, Florida
24 articles 0 photos 86 comments

Favorite Quote:
When I was little they called me a liar, but now I'm grown up, they call me a writer.

i like it. verry nice.

on Jan. 15 2010 at 7:42 pm
evrycloudyday7 PLATINUM, Wappingers Falls, New York
28 articles 0 photos 41 comments

Favorite Quote:
"As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what counts." Seneca
"I'll just read a book instead. I don't care if we're just friends. I can hang out with myself I'm old enough now to pretend. Bam ba dum ba dum ba dum." kate n

You start out with a good way to draw the reader in! I like the characters. But to be honest, I don't think I really understand it. Spreading love through sponges.... funny idea, but I think I'm missing something because I find it confusing. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy reading it though! =)

evie428 BRONZE said...
on Dec. 2 2009 at 9:38 pm
evie428 BRONZE, Ontario, Other
4 articles 1 photo 88 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination."

I like your quirky style . . . . nice work

on Dec. 2 2009 at 6:22 pm
wickedreader BRONZE, Warmister, Pennsylvania
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
The purpose of our lives is to be happy.-- Dalai Lama

I will admit, I giggled at the American bashing comments. They made me smile, especially since so many foreigners think that way. I really like your story overall. Your writing style is quirky and fun to read. Keep writing and I'll keep reading.

meggers SILVER said...
on Nov. 10 2009 at 10:40 am
meggers SILVER, San Angelo, Texas
5 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
if u cant say something nice then dont say anything at all

wow!!!!!!!!! this amazing i like your work

RLJoy DIAMOND said...
on Oct. 19 2009 at 9:23 pm
RLJoy DIAMOND, Glen Rock, New Jersey
56 articles 0 photos 86 comments
that was amzing!!!!!!!!! congrats on being published

. said...
on Oct. 19 2009 at 3:05 pm
That was quite cute, i liked it :)

seapenguin said...
on Oct. 19 2009 at 12:28 am
seapenguin, Healdsburg, California
0 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
I'm a super hero, but with no powers or motivation.

Speechless. I love it. :)

Berrylublee said...
on Aug. 25 2009 at 11:07 pm
Loved it. Your style is kinda like mine, and I thought the plot and characters were cute. =) Oh, and the last sentence. Keep it up!

bookaddict said...
on Jun. 17 2009 at 11:02 pm
I really enjoyed this piece, it's...quirky, and different, and i think that actualy helps embody the idea of "spreading love" because it's not the usual romance that everyone always thinks of when you say "love" out loud. Please, keep writing.

allissay said...
on May. 19 2009 at 9:10 pm
this was really good, but im slightly confused about the whole infection part?

on May. 3 2009 at 1:18 pm
thedaydreamer13 BRONZE, Delta, Ohio
3 articles 6 photos 40 comments
umm.. its okay. :/ it was odd.. in a good way! good job

on Apr. 26 2009 at 10:32 pm
KaylaKissesAlways BRONZE, Henderson, Nevada
3 articles 3 photos 14 comments
The title is intriging. The story was a little off,though. You should always reread your work to make sure it makes sense. I like the idea you're going with. This piece only needs minor editing. Great start though!

on Apr. 26 2009 at 5:14 am
hey_itskatelyn PLATINUM, Willis, Texas
21 articles 0 photos 217 comments

Favorite Quote:
“God, of your goodness, give me yourself; you are enough for me, and anything less that I could ask for would not do you full honour. And if I ask anything that is less, I shall always lack something, but in you alone I have everything”

i dont really know if i liked it or not. it was intriguing to say the least.

check out


Katelyn H

delly BRONZE said...
on Apr. 15 2009 at 9:43 pm
delly BRONZE, CH, New Jersey
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments
well... it was really confusing but thts just my opionon

My first peice if some people can look and comment plz


on Mar. 18 2009 at 2:02 pm
Poetrywritter BRONZE, Seneca, South Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 9 comments
i liked it. i thought it was a little weird but it was good.

on Feb. 17 2009 at 10:18 pm
KennisLora GOLD, Palm Harbor, Florida
10 articles 2 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

your narration was hard to understand. I kept thinking there was a third person there, capturing the moment, but there wasn't. try working with the narration a little bit more, either losing the personality all together, or including a third person.

You leave so much up to the reader to guess, too much, in reality. Why are they doing this? That has motivated Jean-Luc and Pierre to "Spread the Love"? What has happened to them? You add at the end this line about Tristan and Isolde...is the theme then star-crossed lovers? or was that just another random tidbit that sifted it's way through into the final edition?

You have great talent, don't get me wrong! It was an interesting beginning (if flawed) and your introduction of characters was smooth. Dishing out the details of the two boys was well down, in small spoonfuls. I like how you didn't just describe them from head to toe at the beginning. It lets the reader picture their very own french boy, dancing in the streets of Paris.

i<3you said...
on Feb. 13 2009 at 9:32 pm
eh... I don't know. i got bored within the first paragraphs. I think that your style is just too different form mine to like this...

on Jan. 24 2009 at 12:29 am
Nice writing style--very mysterious! I agree with YoungAuthor in that it entices the reader into suspense. I want to read on to know what all of these things turn out to mean. To get some clarification because I'm really confused right now. Like I said, nice style. Needs a little work, but has all the potential! Keep wrting!

YoungAuthor said...
on Jan. 23 2009 at 8:56 pm
"Spreading Love" was an interesting, odd and suspenseful piece. I can't say that I liked it, or admired the characters nor the story's language, but it had the good quality of enticing the reader into suspense. What's this getting at? What's the metaphor of the sponge(s)? I did'nt understand it very well, but nevertheless, I would urge you to continue writing if it is your passion, and good luck.