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Apathy Girl and Other Tales

Musings of the Overly Naive Cynic

The sky was whispering down through the greening foliage. There was a rustling in the grass towards her right. A bird kiltered off of a tree branch. The sun just barely touched his skin, illuminating a pale lavender tint. The shells of beetles, the slow crawl of maggots, the vibrating wings of flies, the hummingbird, all made the ground and the air around where he lay shimmer. She walked towards him, singing softly, placing each foot down carefully. As she approached she made sure her long cotton skirt was lifted off the ever softening ground. She saw his eyes were cloudy, she paused to gaze upwards and see if the sky was the same. Kneeling beside him she picked up his waxen hand, removed the woven bracelet from his wrist. She stayed there for a time, taking in the mud in his shaggy, curly hair. Noting she could not see the chain of his necklace. Seeing the marks carved into his bare back. The filth on his jeans, his bare feet. She sat on the ground, her legs crossed, her skirt spread over her lap like a blanket, soaking up the blood and bile from the ground. She played with the bracelet absentmindedly as her singing became humming. As the sky became the soft lavender of his skin, as the moon rose unseeing like his eyes, as the air became cool as his blood, she sat there, vocalizing a song whose name she did not know, or did not care to think about.

They came just after dawn, the sweeper team, taking up those who were not able to get away fast enough, those who had given up caring how fast they could run. The old, the sick, the weak, were always sent away, but some slipped, and were sieved through the net of the sweeper team. Behind this net were Shadows. A shadow touches, engulfs, darkens and extinguishes everything it passes over. A Shadow lays itself over the people left behind, those smart enough to hide, strong enough to run. The Shadows drape themselves over the landscape, and when they are gone, so are their targets. And so it was in the forest just after the hint of chill had began to burn out of the air, the sweeper team lead through, somewhat loudly, taking sickles to the undergrowth, staining their flashing, sharpened blades with the sticky green blood of the plants. They found no one, and did not look at his body as they passed over it. They did not seem to notice the mix of wild, red curls among the green and purple leaves surrounding a towering tree.

Ayelet noticed everything. From her place behind the jeweled leaves she noticed the Sweepers kicking up the dirt, the dust into the air. She watched them unintentionally disturb the flies around his body. She noticed the hummingbird fly away. They fumbled their way through the forest, past her, with no art, finding no lives to tow in their wake. No sooner than they had gone, than did the air begin to still. Around his body the shimmering stopped, the wings of the flies hovered in the light of his skin, the maggots stopped their feasting. The particles of sunlight that had been washing over her, over him, past his eyes, slowed their descent to the ground on which he laid. It was at the edge of her line of vision that they came. As darkness formed from nothing, from a lack of light, they came. They lay over the landscape, not quite belonging to the ground, not quite to the sky, something about the way they shifted, Ayelet thought, something about the way they moved, not moving, not quite belonging to themselves. This is why they call them the Shadows. Or possibly their soft gray suits, the way their cars made no sound, they appeared seemingly from nowhere. In the underground, they were called Adumbrations, things that obscured.

They stood still, eyes not scanning, but flicking from one thing to the next. To the greening sky. To the dead leaves picked up by the strengthening wind. To the bugs and insects and all things crawling retreating slowly into the ground. To the body before them. And then away. To the patch of green and purple leaves surrounding a towering tree.

They’d seen her.

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