Thursday, February 15, 2007

Shadows Agent

Created from a prompt for a writing exercise.

Awake among sleepers.
They tell me he used to say that, again and again, like a mantra. A phrase to ward off the ever watchful, all-seeing eye.

So they sent me to find out what he knew.

The first thing I noticed was his clean-shaven face and his clothes that had recently seen the inside of a washer. He wasn’t like the others asking for spare change. He wanted to make change—quarters for the washing machine, and minutes for his cosmic truths.

Awake among sleepers. He never explained why him, or how he came to be awake. One day he was. Awake, seeing shadows on the cave wall where others saw the two lane main drag or the churning dryers.

He said the dryer’s hum made it heard for them to hear. It was safe to talk, if you kept your voice low, buzzing beneath the rotation of socks and jeans.

I never had trouble hearing him.

Awake among sleepers. Who were the sleepers, I asked. Were they like him? Would they one day open their eyes and see beneath the consensual dream?

The ones who listened, he told me, looked like everyone else—until he saw their eyes. Empty husks regarded him where living souls should have been.

He never flinched at my gaze as I asked to hear more.

They’d never been sleepers, he said. Things like them had never known the pretty dreams in the cave. But neither were they the ones stoking the fire and weaving the shadow play.

Awake among sleepers, and venturing out beyond the safety of the cave. Out into the realm of the dead-eyed things. Because once awake, wasn’t it human nature to want to explore the solitude? To slink through the privacy that being awake while others sleep brought?

No, I told him, I wouldn’t want to.

He asked why.

If you’re the only one awake, I gave him a smile, then who are you going to call for help?

He found another Laundromat after that conversation. Mission accomplished.

3 comments:

Rachel said...

You referenced Plato!

Cool!

c.rooney said...

I like to look smart at the meetings, because I feel intimidated that they've all got like BAs and Masters. XD

Rachel said...

Just because someone has an MFA doesn't mean they're better. Just means they paid some people for an excuse to have time to have more practice. IMHO