An Empty Soul

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A girl is born without the ability to feel emotions.

Submitted: November 12, 2012

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Submitted: November 12, 2012

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When I was born, I did not cry. The doctors were concerned; they told my parents that something must be wrong. They checked my heart, lungs, vocal chords, tear ducts, and everything else they could think of and found that I was perfectly healthy.  The doctors were bewildered and my parents relieved.

My mother and father took me home with them, their first and only child. They loved me as any parent loves their children. They would tickle me, but I would not smile. They would make faces at me, but I would not giggle.

I was born without emotions.

I am sixteen now, almost an adult. I have never cried, not even when my neighbor died. I have smiled, an awkward muscle movement that is not genuine to me. I have only smiled because I felt it was dictated. My laugh is an airy, meaningless babble.

“Good morning,” I had told my mom as she stood at the stove cooking. The scent of bacon had called me to the kitchen.

She turned to me and smiled. “Good morning, Liath. How are you?” She piled some bacon onto a plate and set it before me.

“Thanks,” I said. “I’m well.” I said the same every morning. She didn’t expect any other answer.

She nodded. “That’s good.” She kissed my head and turned back to the stove to finish cooking breakfast.

I ate the bacon heartily, for I enjoyed its taste. In a moment, Mother came and sat down at the table across from me. Her eyes were watered, but I expected that it was the steam of the stove. “Where’s father?” I asked.

“Working at the library,” she answered. “It’s just you and me today.”

I had just taken a bite of food so I didn’t answer. She seemed okay with this and we ate our breakfast together quietly.

I felt her eyes on me. I looked up, just in time to see her looking at me sadly. Then she smiled at me.

“What?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said, shaking her head.

I sighed. Although I could not feel anything, I knew she was feeling something, and it was about me. “Mother.”

She shrugged. “I just love you.”

I knew this was not it, but I did not press her. I just said, “Oh.”

She was looking at me expectantly. I remembered that it was common courtesy to repeat the statement. “I love you too,” I said. I wondered why she had said it, for she knew I couldn’t comprehend her love or truly feel it for her.

She smiled again and looked back down. I emptied my plate and scooted my chair out. “I’m going to go to the archery range.”

She just nodded and I took it as her consent.

In my room, I dressed into trousers and a plain shirt, tied up my hair, grabbed my bow and headed to the range. I went almost every day to practice, but I wasn’t really sure why. Perhaps it was just something to pass the time, or a means of protecting myself.

I walked down the path with my head bowed to avoid stares. Many people in the town knew who I was and they thought me strange. Mother had said it was rude for them to stare so I attempted to elude them.

A man noticed me anyway and decided to give me trouble. As I walked past him, he stuck his foot out and tripped me.

“That was not kind,” I told him matter-of-factly.

“What will you do? Cry?” he sneered. “Too bad you can’t.” He spat at me. People were turning to watch, so I just ignored him and walked quickly to the range, wiping his spit off with my sleeve.

Once there, I walked inside the doors and began shooting with my bow and arrows at red and white colored targets.

The middle-aged man who owned the range waved to me. His name was Tanu and he was kind to me. I waved back to him and turned towards the targets. I planted my feet firmly on the ground, pulled back the string, aimed, took a deep breath, and released. The arrow thudded into the third ring from the inside. I took another arrow from the pouch behind me and tried again. It flew smoothly into the center. I received some congratulatory stares.

I did this for hours. Finally, when my arm was fingers were blistered and my arm had lost its strength, I stopped. Tanu came to me before I left. “You’re one of the best I’ve seen, and the most dedicated.”

I thanked him politely.

He continued. “You can definitely fend for yourself, if you ever needed to.”

He then wished me a good day and I left, considering what he had said. I could fend for myself. I didn’t need anyone. I walked quickly home.

When I came to the house, I walked in and was greeted by Father in an embrace. “Afternoon, Liath.” He kissed my head as Mother had done.

I turned my lips upwards to try and smile at him. “Hello, Father.”

He warmly smiled back at me. “Did you enjoy shooting your bow?”

In my head, I answered, No, for as you know, I cannot enjoy anything. But out loud, I said, “Yes, but now my fingers are blistered and my arm sore.”

His happiness turned to concern, and he took my hand and inspected it. He told Mother to bring him hot water. When she came back with a steaming pale, he wet a rag with it, and set it on my sore arm. I thanked him. We sat down in the sitting room and Father told us of his day at the library. I was not paying attention. Instead, I was thinking of my two parents sitting next to me, talking happily to each other. They expressed their emotions, easily read and understood.

My mother excused herself to go prepare dinner and I went to assist her. She was making a beef roast, my Father’s favorite meal. I peeled the potatoes and chopped carrots. We put the roast in the oven and waited.

I washed and set the table. When the meat was done, we called in Father for dinner and sat down to eat.

He took a bite and praised us. “Delicious!”

“You say that every time,” I replied.

Father smiled. “Because it’s delicious every time.”

Aware he was being kind, I smiled for him.

“Is your arm feeling better?” Mother asked.

I nodded.

“Good,” she said. “You must be glad.”

No, but I nodded again anyway.

“Are you excited for tomorrow?” Father asked, referring to the fact that we were planning on going to swim in the lake tomorrow.

I knew his question was intended to be kind. But I decided to be truthful. “I can’t feel excitement, and you know it.”

He was taken aback. “I’m sorry,” he murmurs.

“I don’t know what sorry means. I can’t comprehend that because I cannot feel,” I said.

Mother’s eyes watered up again. She was going to cry. “Why will you cry, Mother?” I asked, an honest question. “I haven’t done anything but tell the truth.”

She left the table. I looked at her back as she walked away. Father took my hand and spoke to me. “She wishes that you would love her.”

“I can’t,” I said. Then, yelling so Mother could hear, I said, “I can’t love and I wish you would understand that!”

Father left the table, presumably to comfort his wife. I was left at the table to finish my dinner alone. Afterwards, I went to my room and reminded myself of what Tanu had said. I did not need my parents. I did not want to be a burden on them. I was making their lives dismal and I couldn’t help it. These thoughts led me to a decision. I would leave. I filled a suitcase with my clothes, a pillow, sleeping bag, and shoes. I wrote a note to them, saying that I would leave and it was for the best. I told them I knew that they loved me. I did not write any false feelings for them and I told them not to worry.

When night came, I took my suitcase and my bow and arrows, and silently went to the front door. I attached the note to it, and walked out. I glimpsed behind me but kept going. I walked until I got to the dense, large forest that lay on the north side of the outskirts of town. It was uninhabited.

I disappeared inside it. When I had walked a ways and tripped on a root, I decided it was too dark to go anywhere. I got out my sleeping bag and pillow and fell asleep while listening to the wind whip through the trees and while staring up at the stars.

 

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I woke with the sun in the morning. I looked all around me. I saw a squirrel dart up a tree and jump from branch to branch. A hare sped past me.

The sun was peeking in through the branches and fog, warming me as I squirmed out of my blanket. I knew I could survive out here. I would find a cave or make a shelter to live in. I would drink from the stream I could hear rushing past me, and eat the animals I could shoot.

There were no people out here. My life belonged to myself.

The scene was serene and I was at peace. For a moment, I thought I could feel some inkling of pure joy from deep within me, but maybe it was just my imagination. Maybe.


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