Today, I came back to myself after two weeks. I don’t know where I was or what I was doing, only realized the vague disquiet that had been whispering its existence into my ear had been truth all along — I had been going through the motions for two weeks.
But how does a man find out where his soul has been for two weeks when he discovers it returning from having gone missing? It is not as though it returns with memories and recollections to add to those of the shell’s empty weeks of shambling through what we term life.
These are the thoughts I pondered as I sat on the scarred metal of the bench, waiting for the morning bus, gray rain leaking from the sky and streaking the clear plastic walls.
The bus pulled up with the dull grind of gears shifting down and the hiss of air-powered brakes, squeaking and groaning before coming to rest. I dodged through the space between the shelter and the narrow entry to the bus, barely dampened.
Transit tokens clattered. I was greeted by slack faces staring emptily to which I paid equally no attention, nor any to the bright eyes of those always watching the entry and exit of others, as I took a seat and joined the slack faces along the swaying, jouncing route.
City streets and pale faces hung above gray suits and brown coats rushed by, unnoticed, beyond the bleary windows.
If I had come back to myself, why had I left? Where had I gone? (Did I gain any superpowers? I chuckled privately, unnoticed.) Would this happen again? Would I get an extra two weeks of life to make up for it, or was the flesh the flesh and the soul the soul? Did the event even have any meaning?
The bus groaned and hissed to a stop. I got up and stepped off onto the street, hands jammed into pockets, eyes downcast and not really seeing the cracks in the sidewalk, shoes striding across the rough gray pavement one after the other. I looked up long enough to open the brown-trimmed door of metal-and-glass.
Doubt walked in with me.
How did I know my soul was really gone for two weeks, other than that constant feeling of unease vanishing, the feeling of being infused that morning, the sudden thought and feeling that I–the real me, the primary motivator of my own destiny–had truly and suddenly returned? How could I dismiss that which seemed to throb and circulate hot in my chest?
Other options presented themselves–psychological, biological–I did not examine any too closely. They simply felt wrong.
I sat down in my chair and started my shift beneath the nigh-inaudible hum of off-white fluorescent bulbs, distracted and perhaps all too concerned with discovering where I had been for two weeks while my body sat here and lived its life, going through motions that had never satisfied.
Had I become someone else? I seemed attracted to the idea of having fought a noble war in ancient Egypt. Or was it something more mundane? Had I been the guiding muse and voice for some other body, a young girl it seemed, who needed the strength and fire I’d not possessed for two weeks. Yet we all want to be someone else for a while, some of us desire to live in fantasy and wish the fantasy were reality.
I feared the real truth was that I could never know.
The day passed dully, with aggravation hiding in the cracks and striking forth like an insect snapping at trespassing prey.
On the way home–the lurching bus again under the cleared evening sky, filled with pale, disinterested faces now marred and tired with the day’s petty trials–it occurred to me that perhaps it was not my soul that had been returned to me at all. Perhaps it was someone else’s soul come into me, as I had considered mine traveling about into others who needed it.
I do not know why that thought filled me with such distress when the idea that my soul had been elsewhere-and-other did not.
By the time the ride had ended and I walked away from the bus stop, I had come to realize the questions were unimportant. If I believed that the passion and life of a soul now burned within me again, and I did, the only worthwhile question to which there could ever be an answer was the question of what it meant to have a soul, what to do not with it but because of it.
What rang through my mind like the bells of a distant church on Sunday morning was a poorly recalled quotation of whose source I was utterly uncertain, some philosopher or childhood friend, which said ‘men are not born with souls but must earn them’. And perhaps must deserve to keep them.
I stared up at the tiny blue stars in the washed out evening sky, half-drowned by city lights that sought to rival them, and quit my job in the morning.
Copyright (c)2007 Raven Daegmorgan