How appropriate that I wrote my second post on consistency and since then I’ve been anything but. Well, I’m back (again) with another short story! Let me know what you think!
I like being alone. I always know what to expect. I’ve never liked surprises, or other people, which is why this is the perfect place for me. I didn’t think so when I first arrived in this strange, smoothed-over world. With its abandoned buildings and things peppering the basin.
The first week, I was panicked.
The first month, uneasy.
It’s been years now, and when I remember those days, I feel silly. The Bowl is as regular as clockwork.
Sometimes new people show up, though I never see how. I gave up trying to figure it out a long time ago. And now I don’t care. This is the perfect place for me.
The newcomers always arrive while the sand has receded. It makes my teeth grind because that’s when I’m outside.
If they approach, they always leave soon after.
She looks like all the others. Confused, disoriented, and wide-eyed. I already know she’s going to try and talk to me.
“Hey – hey you!” I sigh and prepare my usual response, not looking up from the pile of sand I’m digging through.
“I’m not a good person.” I’ve found the truth works best for driving people away. It worked well enough to land me here, after all.
She doesn’t take the hint, pushing her face into my field of vision wearing a wicked grin.
“So?” I grit my teeth and turn away, but not before I see her short hair, the colour of flowers.
“Go away.” She doesn’t. I heave another sigh. It’s been a long time since I met someone clingy.
“What is this place?” She asks. I ignore her, she’ll find out soon enough. “How long have you been here?” I straighten and start to walk away. “Why do you think you’re a bad person?” I halt.
I’m supposed to be alone. I know who I am when I’m alone. She’s only been following me for a minute and I already feel muddled.
“Stop following me, I won’t help you.” She jogs to catch up.
“Why would I need help?” I speed up my pace a little, but her legs are longer than mine. All I wanted today was to find a New Thing. Usually, the objects I find are Old Things, and in the beginning when I found the New Things, I left them, because I didn’t know if they would hurt me. But lately they’ve become my new hobby. I don’t know what they are, or how many there are, but I have nothing but time.
I don’t like curiousity, because that’s how you get killed, but this seems like a harmless enough indulgence until I figure out how to quash it. Maybe seeing whatever happens to this girl will do the trick.
She’s still trailing after me. I haven’t spoken again, but she keeps chattering. Usually newcomers are quieter, more timid. Sometimes they cry, or scream, and nearly all of them look for a way out. I did. But when I glance at this girl, she hasn’t stopped smiling. That’s probably a bad sign. She told me her name, but I forced it out of my head. I haven’t shared my own name in years.
She’s too bright. Everything here is beige, brown, dusty, faded. Her jacket is black with spikes. Her shirt is red, her jeans are checkered, and her hair is a bouquet in a place that has never seen flowers. I know instinctively that she’s going to die.
But she still won’t leave me alone. Despite my best efforts, I hear some of her words, getting glimpses of another world I barely remember. I don’t want to remember.
I can tell she’s not like me. Her thoughts don’t go in a straight line, and I think that if I stood on my head, I’d be no closer to her point of view. That’s ok. I’m not interested. I don’t want to understand anything about a person who will be gone by morning. I’m already angry that I’ll remember what she looks like.
It’s almost time. Like every day, I start to walk home. To a sealed off building at the edge of The Bowl. It’s one of the areas that will fill most quickly, but the buildings are newer there, so it’s also safer. The girl is a little further back now, perhaps finally getting discouraged. I’m five feet from my door when the sound starts. The hiss of miles upon miles of sand pouring over the edges. In minutes, everything will be covered.
Without looking back, I step inside and lock the door behind me. I should go upstairs, but my feet are glued to the floor. It doesn’t take long. I hear a shout, then a pounding on the door. I know she can see it now. I’ve watched death cascade in so many times. I know exactly what she’s seeing. There’s another bang. She’ll be swept away in seconds. I’m still standing there.
I’m not a good person. I know the only reason I’m still here is curiousity. I think curiousity makes me an even worse person because usually I would walk away. Another slam. My hand twitches towards the knob. I know who I am by myself.
I wonder, who would I be around somebody else?