The Neighbors – Part 5

There are those among us who live false lives. Nasty men. Vicious women. Forgotten children. They are the monsters.

Am I one? Some things are best discovered on your own.


 

It rained all week, a whole bullocks of thunder and lightning and, of course, hail. It wasn’t I minded the rain so much as I hated being stuck inside this hollow house, trapped as surely as the legless man on the corner, begging change as a replacement for vanished legs.

I felt the same absence in my own life. Not vanished legs, but something I could not put into words. Something I could not hear nor touch nor smell. Something brought in uninvited, leaving me lost in the dark halls and empty rooms of my life.

A week has passed since Pumpkin had disappeared and many times I had considered ending it. Little girls need to learn the meaning of grief, of emptiness which lasts forever. Or maybe not. I don’t understand children, one reason never to have my own. I had no wish to pass my genes onto future generations.

No, my genes had atrophied inside their own prisons, trapping me forever.

Last night, I opened the basement door and went down. “Here you go,” I said, settling down the plate of food. Why had I started to talk to it? When had I started?

For the first time, I stood there and watched it eat, trying to see some redeeming feature, some reason for its existence, but I had none. I should have gotten rid of it when it first came to me, but I hadn’t. Something in its brown eyes twisted the blackened part of me enough to stay my hand.

Now I looked down at soulful eyes (do I even know what that means? Soulful? How can I?) I have no soul.

Is that why I stayed my hand? Why I called shelters and printed posters and walked a little girl – not my little girl, no never – around the neighborhood when I had plenty else to do. When children and dogs had no place in my life nor did I want them too? It moved closer, whining, leaning against my leg, nosing at my palm. I booted it away.

When I went back upstairs, I still felt its solidness against my leg, the softness as it touched my hand. Unafraid.