Joey Mac and the Pearlescent Unicorn Uniform (Part 1)

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His job made Joseph MacDonal II, Joey Mac to his pals, the enemy of the world and a target for assassination. He was one of the few people on the planet trained and licensed to butcher unicorns and prepare their meat for consumption. This also put him at odds with PAUTU (People Against the Unethical Treatment of Unicorns) who accused him of unicorn genocide.

The thing that stuck in everyone’s craw, more than selling unicorn steaks, chops and burgers, was the butchery aspect, though that was the bit they all had gotten wrong. Yes, Joey was technically a unicorn butcher, but the proper definition was:

/ˈbo͝oCHər – NOUN
A person whose trade is cutting up and selling meat in a shop.

which he did. What most folks failed to understand, though it was a matter of public record, was that his license hadn’t included or even allowed the hunting or slaughtering of unicorns or any other animals. In fact, Joey never killed a thing in his life. Insects that crossed his path were the subject of a strict catch, relocate and release system.

At this very moment, Joey sat across from a field news reporter undergoing makeup in preparation for the live broadcast. He found her cute in a cable news presenter sort of way, and probably would have been more attracted to her if she hadn’t had that I’ll make my bones off this story hungry look in her eyes.

She ignored him completely, even brushing off his initial “Hello” until the cameraman counted her down. When the station anchor threw to her, the field reporter beamed a smile so unnaturally white, it would have stood out in a blizzard.

“Thank you, Sylvia. I’m here with noted unicorn slaughterer, Joseph MacDonal,” the field reporter said, finally locking her predatory eyes on him.

“Actually, I’m a unicorn butcher…”

“Same difference, isn’t it?”

“Actually, there’s a big dif–‘

“What made you decide to embark on this horrible profession?” she interrupted.

***

The economy had been in the crapper since before God talked to Moses and Joey hadn’t worked in forever. And even though he was one of the fortunate ones who managed to do what analysts suggested and set aside six months worth of salary in a high yield account before he was made redundant at the meatpacking plant, now going on his tenth year, all that money was little more than a distant memory.

A Christian in name more than practice, it had been years since the soles of his shoes touched the floor of a church and that time was his best friend’s wedding, a wife twice removed. To say Joey was out of practice with the proper act of prayer would have been an understatement. His first attempt came off as more of a bitch session, with him blaming his parents for his rotten upbringing and lambasting society for its prejudice of gingers, which, he reckoned, was the chief reason for his being kept down by the man. Surprisingly, he saw no results.

His second attempt at prayer was akin to a letter to Santa, in which he listed all the positive things he’d ever done in life and expected a little compensation for his good behavior. Again, results were not forthcoming.

Third time was the charm, however, when he realized that he should have admitted his sin, expressed thanks for the things he had and humbly requested the one thing he needed most: a job.

He put no expectation on the prayer and went about his normal daily existence, when, a week later, he received a phone call. Seemed that a friend of a friend knew a guy who knew a guy who had a roommate who was related to a woman who owned her own business was looking for someone in his line of work.

Joey arrived at the interview, résumé in hand, and launched into his well-rehearsed spiel when the business woman waived him off and ushered him into a small kitchen area.

“Show me what you can do,” she gestured at a section of the animal carcass, a shank, by the look of it, that rested atop a butcher block countertop.

Joey inspected the meat before touching a utensil. Not beef, nor pork, nor lamb, the texture was something he had never encountered before. A grain like beef, yet soft to the touch like flan, and it shimmered without a light source as if it were bioluminescent.  “What is this?” he asked.

“Are you interested in the job or not? I don’t have all day,” she drummed her fingers on her crossed arms.

Joey sighed, selected a knife from the butcher block and approached the slab of meat, much in the same manner a sculptor would a block of marble, envisioning the cuts before blade touched flesh. With no idea what type of animal he was dealing with, there was no way of telling how this woman expected it to be prepared, so he simply followed his instincts and let the meat talk to him. And in a way, it did.

Every time the stainless steel edge portioned the strange meat, Joey thought he heard a high-pitched tone, like the sound of a moistened finger running along the rim of a crystal goblet. A sound that broke his heart. But in the aftermath, when the tone was just about to become inaudible, he heard a voice inside his head. It said two words:

forgive you

and he felt a permission granted. This had not relieved the wave of guilt that flooded over him but it gave him the desire to do something with his own life worthy of this unknown animal’s sacrifice.

When he was done, the business woman nodded her approval, “Every bit the professional you claimed to be.” And it was a professional job. Every cut was perfect, none too generous, nor too small, and there were absolutely no scraps. He utilized every last bit of the meat.

“I’m curious, what type of meat is this?”

“Unicorn,” she said very matter of factly.

“Uni-excuse me?”

“You heard me.”

“I don’t get the gag,” Joey inwardly chastised himself on his tone. If his dumb mouth cost him the job, he’d…

“I’m quite serious,” the woman took him by the upper arm in a grip tighter than he was comfortable with and led him through a maze of stairwells and corridors, down, down, so far down beneath street level that he expected to see passage markers scratched into the walls by Arne Saknussemm.

Their destination was a room designed to look like a field, complete with grass, trees and rocks. Had he been blindfolded and dropped here, Joey would have sworn he was outside. The room was so vast, he couldn’t see the far wall. The only telltale sign this was, in fact, an indoor facility were the track lights that provided sunlight, positioned incredibly high overhead, but even they were mostly obscured by the clouds of the room’s self-contained weather system. But as fascinating as all this was, by far the most mindblowing thing were the unicorns grazing in the field.

“They’re real?” Joey asked.

The woman couldn’t suppress her chuckle, “Our organization, as advanced as it is, isn’t able to manufacture live unicorns.”

“But how is this possible?” Joey took a cautious step into the room and felt the spongy grass beneath his shoe. He moved slowly as not to spook a unicorn no more than ten feet away. The unicorn paid him no mind.

“Some trapper with an overabundance of dumb luck caught the last pair in existence by accident. Fortunately for him, and us, they were a stallion and mare. We made him a very wealthy man in order to breed them in captivity.”

“For food?” there went his tone again, but this time he didn’t care.

The woman shrugged. “There’s nothing else we can do with them. You can’t ride them. Young, old, virginal, virtuous… it doesn’t matter. They simply won’t allow it. Utilize the horn for its magical properties? It’s only magical for the unicorn, there’s no transference of power. Grinding down the horn and ingesting the powder for immortality? Turns out the human body is unable to digest the powder.”

“Then why not let them go?”

“Not until we recoup our investment. And we can’t risk one of our competitors getting hold of them and creating a revenue source we haven’t managed to think up ourselves… yet.”

“This is going to sound strange,” Joey said. “But I don’t know if I can do this.”

To be continued…

Text and Audio ©2014 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Things Kept Precious

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My mother warned me to guard the things I held precious by keeping them hidden inside me. The only thing I held precious was her and I found it impossible to place her inside my body. I was too young to understand she was talking about love. Too young to save the best parts of my mother’s love in my heart. Too consumed by the hate caused by her leaving me on my own. Too young to accept that death comes to us all.

It was hard to hold onto her love. Hard because I watched her body decay and rot away to nothingness. I watched to see the precious things she kept inside her and where she managed to hide them so I could do the same. I never found them. I watched as I picked vermin from her flesh and fought away carrion from her decaying form, until the day she was unrecognizable to me.

In particular, I watched her heart. Who knew what was inside there but I knew it was fragile because my mother spoke many times about how it had been broken. She said, “Sometimes you have to break a heart to find out how strong it really is.”

But when her heart became visible, I couldn’t see any cracks. I watched it as it bruised like an apple and disintegrated away. Nothing inside it but emptiness. I was hoping to see love—even though I had no idea what love looked like—or at least be privy to some secret that would explain the world to me. I found none of those things.

Her heart was a chamber for maggots. That was what my mother kept precious. Little disgusting creatures that fed off her body. They were everywhere. Stripping my mother of her beauty.

It grew harder to remember her face. I tried to recall the last time I saw her eyes or her smile but that memory was too distant in the past, lost in the forest of forgetfulness.

Occasionally I dreamt of my mother, standing in a room somewhere I had never been but yet felt so familiar to me, her face was a storm. Clouds roiled where features should have been. When she spoke, her voice was a swarm of black bees the drained the life of anything it touched. The bees blotted out the room and ate a pet dog I only had in dreams and never in real life, before coming for me.

I would run from the house and through the trees, down a dirt path that led to a black pond of brackish water. The water called to me and I was torn for the water was frightening, but so too were the bees who devoured trees on their way to eat me.

No real choice at all, I dove into the pond and discovered the water was actually tar and I was being pulled in, just as other creatures foolish enough to make the same mistake, the same fear-based choice as I had.

My nose and mouth filled with hot thick liquid, bitter molasses that scorched my insides, and melted me like butter on the griddle.

I woke alone in the dark, choking for air, my chest weighted with the heaviness of fear. My breathing was a thick, wet noise like someone sloshing through mud — or tar! — and I no longer felt safe in this world, so I did the only thing I could think to do.

I crawled inside the remains of my mother’s body and wrapped her tight around me so that I could be the thing she kept precious.

Text and Audio ©2013 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

It Certainly Loves Company, Doesn’t It?

It tore Beckah to bits when she woke up from the fairytale fantasy and learned that true love was a long shot gamble rather than a certainty and that she was not talented enough to do what she loved for a living, but each dawn she tried to begin afresh, to be a more polished version of herself, better, beyond reproach, perfect. That was until she met her mother at the breakfast table, who dashed her hopes on the rocks, leaving no doubt in her mind that everything she dreamt for was impossible.

Gladys Hofstadter, née Cummings, was a woman who practiced a lifetime of tiny deceits, petty deceptions, and random, unnecessary acts of selfishness which slowly inched her so far afield from the good person she foolishly imagined she was that she could no longer spot the path back to being a better or even halfway decent human being. And she made the decision that she wouldn’t remain lost by the wayside alone. After all, what use was it to have a daughter that didn’t share in her mother’s misery?

Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Fairytale Romance

Tuesday night book club ended much the same as any other week. The women read and discussed Leslie Meier’s latest whodunit, “Irish Parade,” which dealt with a reporter trying to uncover the truth about a case in which her office rival was charged with the murder of a corrections officer. Well, everyone read the book aside from Irene Beaumont, who cribbed her notes from Wikipedia, despite having been caught and called out on it on several occasions. Afterwards, someone posed the question:

“If you could wake up to one wish, what would it be?”

Cynthia Granger wanted clarity of mind in order to be closer to God. Sarah Clemmens desired a meaningful life, one lived in service to others, especially those in emotional need. Delores Babcock wanted to be more intimate in her relationships and less afraid of life. Brenda Trotter wanted to know, without the shadow of a doubt, what her purpose was in the world, because she felt rudderless for so very long now. When it was Geneviève’s turn to answer, she shrugged off the question, offering some lame excuse, because she wasn’t comfortable explaining that she was actively working on fulfilling her wish.

What she desired more than anything else in the world, was a fairytale romance, and she was determined to get it by hook or by crook.

Geneviève decided to attend a mixer one night, without alerting her friends and family in case it went horribly wrong, and, to her astonishment, she met a man who ticked all the boxes on her potential suitor checklist. So, she implemented a plan to stretch the wooing period in an elaborate game of chase, dodged his attempts at popping the question until she was sure that he had fallen in love with her madly, truly, deeply, withheld sex throughout the entire courting and engagement process, and the list went on.

When they were finally wed, Geneviève realized her wish had come true. She moved into his palatial estate, which he shared with his six older brothers, who had either gone missing or were all dead; her husband’s servants were all either animated household items that would burst into song spontaneously, or woodland creatures gifted with human speech; she had to leave a trail of breadcrumbs whenever she left the house alone in order to find her way home again; she had access to every room in the mansion, except one, which was always locked and possessed no keyhole or doorknob or other mechanism in which to open it; and the biggest clue was that her mother-in-law dabbled in some sort of ancient arcane religion, and was always involved in some project or other that always almost accidentally killed Geneviève.

It didn’t get more fairytale than that.

Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Bluella

It began with a campfire, built to provide light and warmth against the chill night air, and of course, to toast s’mores. But proper precautions were neglected by the campers and a sudden gust of strong wind caught the flames rising off the burning wood and spread into the surrounding forest, setting fire to the tree that housed Bluella’s nest.

The mother bird took up both eggs in her talons and beat her wings as hard as she could, in an attempt to escape the raging wildfire. She flew without direction or destination, farther than she had ever flown before in a single trip, and just as her eggs began slipping from her talons and her travel-weary wings were about to give out, Bluella was fortunate enough to find a nest outside the path of fire… but it already contained an egg of its own and she caught sight of the parent bird in the middle of its dive bomb assault.

Text and Audio ©2019 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Lift Your Eyes

“There’s something you need to know about me. I was born with an extraordinary ability that allows me to see into the future. I know, it sounds a bit mad, but I swear it’s the God’s honest truth. This gift has given me the unfair advantage of always avoiding imminent danger by selecting the best possible outcome in any given situation. But the strongest vision I ever had involved you. Although you don’t know me yet, we have an incredible future in store for us, happy marriage, wonderful children, charmed life, the whole nine yards. We will have a connection like no other couple on the planet. Our auras have the capability to overlap in order to create a psychic rapport. The only hiccup in all this coming true is that you must initiate first contact or our fairytale relationship will never happen, so I desperately need you to lift your eyes from your phone and see me!” I shouted in silence until my emotions were hoarse.

Text and Audio ©2019 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

There is a Letter…

In my sock drawer, there is a hiding space behind a row of what my father calls grave socks as in one foot in the grave because they either do not have a match, are riddled with holes, threadbare at the toes and heels, or the ankle elastic has given up their hold on life. In that hiding space, there is a letter written carefully in a mixture of cursive and print. In that letter, are words, feelings, emotions, and admissions that a boy would never say directly to a girl’s face, not even on a double dog dare.

On a bicycle, there is a shy paperboy who, even though I have not responded to his first letter yet, would write me another letter, I am sure of it, reminding me of our time in the park. In that park, there is a rum cherry tree under which I made a promise to the shy paperboy of seven minutes in heaven.

In my closet, on an afternoon when no one is home, I make good on my promise with the shy paperboy. In the dark, my mind is filled with a sort of scary, sort of awkward fireworks that I can see but cannot hear because my heart is pounding so fast and loud that I swear the shy paperboy can hear it.

In that kiss, there is something I do not have words for, something that drops my guard completely, makes me feel truly comfortable with the shy paperboy and I am desperate to let him see me in my entirety.

In that feeling, I am crying harder than I ever have before, harder than I even knew I could, crying past the point when I run out of tears. In the tearless sobs, my breath is hitching and I realize that this is most likely the happiest and most terrified I will ever feel in my life.

In the silence, after the kiss and the tears, the overwhelming and slightly painful joy is replaced by the sound of a key sliding into a lock, the tumbling of a bolt and the jangling of a woman’s metal bracelets.

In the house, there is a mother who will tan not only my hide but the shy paperboy’s as well, if she ever finds out I have company without permission and especially if my room door is closed and that company is a boy who is in my room.

In the window, there is a scared paperboy climbing out and mumbling a prayer that he does not hurt himself or makes a sound when he drops a story to the ground below.

In my mother’s eyes, there is suspicion when she opens the door and enters my room, catching me rushing to shut the window, cutting off the cool breeze even though I am dripping with sweat.

In my mind, there is a list of excuses that I cannot find in the clutter of thoughts so I just stare at my mother as innocently as I can manage, as she walks past me and opens the window, about to stick her head out to inspect the backyard.

In my mouth, there is a fib, “A wasp!” I say just a bit too forcefully and I build on it by telling her there was a wasp in the room so I closed the door to stop it from getting into the rest of the house and I managed to chase it out and shut the window behind it.

In the moments that tick by too slowly, my mother glances at the window again, then at my face before turning to leave but as she reaches the door, she stops and says, “You should probably find a better hiding place. Your father’s been talking about throwing out your grave socks and you wouldn’t want him finding that letter, would you? And the no company without permission rule stands no matter how sweet a boy’s words are or how much your heart aches for him, understood?”

In the end, I realize I am not as clever as I think I am, nor is my mother that foolish or unreasonable and I discover a newfound respect for her as I answer, “Yes, ma’am.”

Text and Audio ©2019 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Dreams of Gingerbread

I don’t dream. I mean, I do dream, everybody dreams, or else we’d go slowly mad. I meant to say that my dreams aren’t dreams, their memories. Events pulled from my subconscious and dressed in modern day clothes. Usually, they tended to be past situations that mirrored a current conflicts in my life, and I thought they were meant to provide a solution, in a George Santayana “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” sort of way. Alas and alack, this was not the case. I always made the same mistakes, no matter which fork in the road I took.

And the memory dreams never brought the comfort of nostalgia with them, as they were never good memories, or they might start off pleasant, but there was always something there to sour the experience. Had I really never experienced true happiness in my life? If I described how my memory dreams played out each night, people might have gotten the impression than I was born in a Dickensian novel. “The Tale of Two Pities,” or some such.

And I was certain there was a level of fiction that mixed with real life moments, the dream and waking world seemed to derive pleasure from swapping details like so many trading cards, which caused me to doubt the authenticity of my remembrance of things.

Worse were the insignificant moments that I had largely forgotten about, which were somehow amplified in my dreams, only to be transformed into real life triggers. Triggers noticeable enough that my best friend, Shelly, began asking, “What happened to you?” which I took as, “What the hell did you do to yourself that made you turn into such a freak?”

Normally, I took a moment to ponder a believable and sympathetic lie to tell, but my latest dream shook me to the core, and I had to tell somebody before my mind exploded.

“Shell, you’re not going to believe me,” I started.

“Only way to find out, Gingerbread, is to tell me and we’ll see where it goes from there,” Shelly offered a reassuring smile. Gingerbread was a nickname I picked up as a little girl because of my skin tone, freckles, and shock of red hair. I punched as many faces as it took in primary school to put an end to it, but it remained a term of endearment between Shell and me, and now that I was older, I had to admit, it kind of grew on me.

I brought Shell up to speed on my dreaming situation, and to my surprise, she was not only interested, but also concerned for me. She was a better friend than I realized and I should have done this years ago.

“Last night,” I said. “I dreamt I was 18 and on my gap year before starting uni. It was the summer, and I struggled into my clothes, splashed water on my face, and gulped down a scalding cup of tea. Flinging open the door to the garden, I felt a breeze wash over my face. It had rained overnight and the air was damp with expectation.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Shelly said.

“Then I looked down at my belly…and I was pregnant.”

“You what?”

“Not only that, but the pregnancy had driven me mad, alienated me from my husband…”

“Your husband? At 18?”

“Yeah, I know, right?” I said. “And my world tilted on its axis threatening to pitch me off. Then I gave birth. And this tiny person, who was partially made of me that would one day grow independent of me, somehow held the universe together.”

“Well, that’s a happy ending, I suppose,” Shelly said.

“But that’s not the weird bit,” I said, taking a deep breath before continuing. “I woke up with a baby laying in bed beside me.”

“Wait a minute now, you woke up with a baby?”

“Yeah, a newborn, by the looks of it.”

“Whose baby is it?”

“Mine, I suppose.”

“But you didn’t have a baby before you went to sleep?”

“No, I wasn’t even pregnant.”

I could see Shelly trying to work it out in her head. “But, but, um…so where’s the baby now?”

“At home. With my husband.”

To be continued…

Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Afterdeath Scene Investigator

When I was six years old, my father left me in the family car to pop into a shop real quick to grab us some snacks for our road trip, but he forgot to apply the parking brakes, and while he was in the store, the car rolled backward and over the edge of a three hundred foot ravine. Instead of losing my life that day, I gained an ability.

I could relive a dead person’s murder.

You’ll notice that I called it an ability and not a gift, because living through the experience of dying was no day at the beach. From a young age, all I had to do was physically stand in a crime scene and I knew what it felt like to be shot, stabbed, strangled, drowned, poisoned, immolated, crushed beneath a rockslide, mauled by wild animals…you get the picture. And if I ever got sick, a hospital would be the last place I’d ever go to. Worst experience of my life.

I tried all manner of drugs to dampen the ability, legal and otherwise, to no avail, so I learned to live with it as best I could manage, and decided to turn lemons into whiskey lemonade by becoming the first and only afterdeath scene investigator. The guy you hired, when all the evidence led to a dead end, to tell you exactly who offed your favorite aunty, philandering spouse, or even your precious little pooch. And yes, I also felt animal murders, as well. Lucky me.

In this line of work, I got my fair share of skeptics, people who doubted that I could do what I claimed I could do, but hired me out of desperation. Such was my current client, Mrs. Marjorie Lydell, whose husband was found dead in a hotel room, in an unsavory part of town, nowhere near his home or place of employment.

Mrs. Lydell asked me to meet her at the hotel room, which she rented, after it had been given the once over by crime scene cleaners and reopened for public use. It was a small room filled with the almost imperceptible cheap hotel scents of old sex and distant natural death, to which I was gratefully immune, both emanating from a bed that dipped in the center like a swayback horse. On a table beside it was a wash basin and pitcher that passed for the en suite bathroom.

As I looked at Mrs. Lydell, a handsome woman in her late forties, I was overcome with a sensation, and for a split second, I thought I was in love because my body got tingly all over, goosebumps sprouting everywhere, and my pulse crackled like lightning. Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw the ghostly after image of Marjorie Lydell, dressed in different clothes and I realized before I passed out, that she was holding a translucent live wire. I, or rather Mr. Lydell, was being electrocuted.

To be continued…

Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Just Maybe for Everything, There Is a Reason

“Where have all the living people disappeared to?” Sally asks and I’m not quite sure whether she’s addressing the question to me or merely ruminating out loud as she is sometimes known to do. “I mean the real-life people, not the walking dead with their heads buried in electronics that fight to live in overcrowded cities only to isolate themselves in public and form fake surface relationships on the internet.”

I make the assumption she is talking to me and I’m about to reply, but either I’m wrong in thinking the conversation included me or I took too long to speak up, because she continues, “I am so tired of dealing with avatars,” this is the name Sally applies to all sentient lifeforms capable of effectively communicating with her who ignore her for text messages and Instagram videos. “There must have been some shift in the social axis that I wasn’t made aware of that suddenly made every avatar I encounter uber unfriendly, discourteous and unkind. It’s like I’ve suddenly become a stranger to my neighbors, the city—hell, the whole goddamned societal globe. How is a person supposed to exist today without someone, anyone, offering up a bit of emotional support or maybe even just a helping hand? Am I the insane one here?”

I don’t answer, chiefly because my truth and her truth are rarely in alignment and I have no desire to hurt her feelings or open up a can of worms. I decide it’s a safer bet all around to allow her to vent her frustrations.

“And now everyone tosses the term friend around so haphazardly,” Sally gestures broadly into the open air as if delivering a sermon to an unseen congregation. “Slapping it onto a multitude of undeserving random strangers so that the original meaning of being someone that shares trust, confidence, and support, despite the odds and no matter the situation. And if an expert were to examine current day friendships, they would find that the relationships only last as long the favors derived from the friendship continue to exist.”

“Well, I’m your friend,” I finally chime in. “And none of that applies to me.”

“I’m not talking about you, of course.”

“You’re not talking to me, either. This is the verbal equivalent of a thread rant and I’m not saying that I don’t understand how you feel and agree with what you’re saying in part but I’d like to address this topic in a broader sense, if I may?”

Sally is visibly put-off by my interruption but gestures, “By all means, fill your boots.”

And I explain to her that one of my pet peeves with social media profiles and posts is the rampant negativity that prevails. After touting how happy, friendly, down to earth they are, individuals will proceed to run off a list of don’ts and other things that they absolutely positively will not stand for.

“But why not simply concentrate on the positive? And that includes you,” I pause to gauge her reaction. Her face is expressionless, perhaps I should stop but to be honest I want her to hear what I have to say, so I press on.

“As overused as the Gandhi quote is, why not try to Be the change you want to see in the world? Which means, perhaps instead of expecting people to immediately conform to your desired way of being—”

“Desired?”

“Yes, desired. Are you really being the type of person to the avatars that you want them to be to you? Why not pay it forward and set the example by walking the walk in addition to talking the talk? You want people to wave Hi to you on the street? Try waving first.”

“So, the responsibility rests solely on my shoulders?”

“Do I even have to answer that, Sally? If you want the people within your sphere of influence to treat you differently, who better than you to take on the responsibility?” 

Sally opens her mouth, closes it, then opens it again but says nothing, obviously attempting to formulate her response. In the silence, I continue.

“What if all the avatars you pass every day, the ones who somehow seem familiar for no apparent reason, the ones who brush past you without so much as an Excuse me, were all meant to cross your path for a reason?

“What if a soulmate—yes, I believe you can have more than onesomeone who held a message for your life and possible insights into your future, was lost because you were too deeply into your righteous indignation to catch their gaze?

“Or better yet, what if every bump was meant to be a chance for an avatar to share something they know that might help you on your path, or maybe even better still, you happen to be one of those people holding onto a piece of their life that needs to be let go or needs to be passed on like a story you need to share?

“Think about it, haven’t you ever come across people in your life you think will be there forever, and then they just fade away? Moving onto their own journeys, their own paths only to find them in your life again, stronger and more beautiful?

“And speaking of beautiful, this is a crazy, beautiful world, but you only get to see how wonderful it all is if you take chances. Don’t let opportunities pass you by. You do you, live your life and stay angry and vigilant if you’re comfortable with that but pay attention to the signs that maybe there are messages out there for you. Maybe there are people you need to meet, souls that can add to your journey through life. Souls to help you grow, souls to make you cry. Adding strength to your life and your soul. Just maybe for everything, there is a reason.”

“And you accused me of going on a rant? What the hell was that and where did it come from? That’s the most you’ve said to me in the two years I’ve known you,” Sally says, raising one eyebrow, then lowered them both suspiciously. “Wait a minute. You mean you, don’t you? You think you’re the person that’s meant to be my soulmate?”

I can feel the blush rising from my collar, up my neck and enveloping my face and I am powerless to stop it.

“Is that such a crazy idea?” I ask in a voice that cracks like I’ve regressed to puberty.

“I-I don’t know,” Sally shakes her head like she’s trying to shift the idea into place. “This is all so left field. Maybe we can discuss it over a cup of coffee?”

I pull my phone out of my belt clip, unlock it and begin scrolling, “Um, okay, friend, but just let me check my messages to see if I missed an important text or something.”

Sally’s face flushes with anger but before she can rage at me, I throw my hands up in surrender.

“Just kidding! It’s a joke! I’m joking!” I smile as I put my phone away.

Sally whacks me on the arm hard enough to sting, but she’s smiling, too, so maybe, just maybe, things might work out for the both of us.

Text and Audio ©2017 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys