There is no Soul in his eyes. They’re dark, blank, flat, Void.

They don’t see me. They see atoms making up a form of paling colors; they meet blue eyes half-veiled by dark hair; they pull at my own Soul, knowing they have none of their own and knowing only Absence, only Wanting, only Needing.

We scream in the Void, let our tears fall into it, but it still seeks, still thirsts, still needs all that makes Souls, Souls. It knows as his eyes know. It knows its own Absence but cannot find its own essence to diminish its Emptiness.

His Soul might be waiting in Limbo or Heaven or Summerland or right next to me but unable to interact, to pull me away before the eyes he once had finish pulling out my own Soul wisp by wisp.

All I know is that he, as the Gods know Him, is gone, leaving only him, this body, this husk, that only Wants and Needs and Feeds on Souls to fill its Void.

All I know is I long to follow –

But instead tear my eyes away and run.

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The (Ir)Replaceable Girl

“There.” The mechanic sighed. “Please be more careful.”

The wrinkles around the mechanic’s eyes deepened.

The girl looked down at the floor. “Yes, Mother.”

The mechanic didn’t like the girl calling her ‘master’ or ‘maker’ or ‘miss’ or ‘ma’am.’ The formal ‘Mother’ felt more compromise than truth.

“I know I make a lot of rules,” the mother said as she tipped the girl’s head up so their eyes met, “but it’s because I care. I don’t want you getting hurt or – Lord forbid – lose you.”

“Because I’m your one and only,” the girl stated. It was an easy-enough line of logic to follow.

Eyes shining more, the mechanic slowly shook her head. “Even if I had many, I would feel a piece of me die if something were to happen to you. Go play, now. I need to finish making dinner.”

The mechanic left, and the girl stared out the door, which had been left open to let clean air move through the quaint home. She could hear the mechanic moving around in the kitchen, pots being moved and drawers and cabinets opening and closing.

The girl blinks and raises her arm to look at where the mechanic had welded the wound shut using tape that absorbed the oil she leaked.

She could not follow the mechanic’s logic.

If there were many others, why should her being lost matter? To the point of the mechanic feeling like a piece of herself had died?

She was only an object. An expensive one, yes, which meant as she continued to be updated and gather new information and skills, she was to use these to earn back her keep. Yet she seemed to have earned the mechanic’s love when she’d yet to do anything to earn it.

Standing, the girl did as ordered and went back outside.

When she reached the porch, she looked at her arm again, trying to see the flesh and blood and soul the mechanic saw but saw only metal and oil.

In the middle of shelving, the phone rings. The store’s small, I’m the only one here today, and the storm has kept customers at bay, giving me time to get things in order for them to fuck everything up again.

Yawning, I take my time getting to the phone. Hopefully they give up, and when the ringing stops, I pause and groan when it starts ringing again.

I’m already planning how long to sit in silence while I “check the back” for something we don’t sell as I pick up and say, “Taylor’s Tailors, Fabric, and More, how may I help you?”

The automated voice on the other end is easily recognizable before it even gets out the first syllable.

At least it’s not a customer.

Halfway through the automated voice’s let-me-sell-you-shit-you-don’t-need spiel, I’m about to hang up when static breaks through the voice.

Weird, and I bring the phone back to my ear as a new voice – a woman’s – calls out, “Hello? Hello?!” in a panicked voice.

“Ma’am?” True emotion slips into my voice now, adrenaline spiking through my veins as I dig out my cellphone from my apron pocket in case I need to call the police.

There’s this pounding in my head. Something bad is happening somethingbadsomethingbadsomethingbadsomethingbad

“Ma’am!” I call when there’s nothing but static on the other end. “Ma’am, are you okay?”

The static stops suddenly as lightning flashes outside. The lights go out without even a flicker of warning, and the woman’s voice comes back:

“Do you believe in God?”

My heart falls through my stomach from the war of relief and fury I feel.

“No.” My tone’s too forceful, but I don’t give a shit.

I’ve been dealing with evangelicals in this dead-end town since birth, even almost died when our old preacher convinced my mom to rely on faith healing before my dad finally took me to a hospital. I don’t need this, especially when there’s a breaker box I need to go find.

The woman’s voice is all around me now, the dead phone falling from my hand:

“Too bad. ‘Cause I quit, and you’re next.”

Radio Siren

Static shutters through the song as I hand the customer her change. She nods absentmindedly in tired thanks, and the jingle of bells alerts me to her departure as I go to fiddle with the radio’s dial.

The thing is old, and out in Bumfuck, Mississippi, only one station comes through with minimal static. If not for the shit my provider sells as coverage, I’d be listening to my Spotify playlist, but it is what it is.

The finicky radio is enough to make me want to turn it off some nights, but it’s never long before the kind of silence that only a rural area paired with darkness can create makes me choose static to keep me company. It’s better than the cicadas, muted by the walls, and the occasional rodent scavenging through the bins out back.

There’s always sound, but it’s the wavering white noise kind that can shove my anxiety into overdrive real quick, especially with caffeine replacing sleep – thanks to the shifts of my two jobs meeting to where time for sleep is hard to come by.

But sleep and sanity by damned; the faster I can get out of Mississippi, the better.

Continue reading “Radio Siren”