A Soul Caught in the Dust

He dug his foot sharply into her side. “Get up,” his level voice ordered, at once bored and malicious. He kicked her because he could, not because he wanted to.

Pale brown eyes swung up and locked on his face. They seemed the only thing dead in her appearance. Her mouth was thin – too thin to be hard, too thin to be tired, too thin to have any desire but survival. It was a desperately, powerfully alive mouth. Her delicate chest heaved involuntarily, shuddering with every breath. Her hands, curled into tight fists by her sides, were hands that had stolen and scratched and fought to keep to her alive. They looked small and weak and determined lying there. She looked as if she had once drunk from the cup of joy, and now she was forever condemned to thirst – a great, aching, cruel thirst – for another drink.

But her eyes showed none of the life-hunger her body was so quick to betray. They were flat and dismissive. Anger was not a concern to these eyes. No, nor happiness, hunger, or the lazy kicks her body so strongly resented.

“Get up.” His voice was just as bored, but a little louder. He cared about her too little to be disturbed by her empty eyes. Nor did he care if his dusty boots were made dirtier still by kicking her again. She was filthy. Her hair was thin and dull, serving no purpose but to darken her already dim face. Her feet were not distinguishable from the dusty ground in the half-light of morning. Her mouth twitched once as he kicked her again, but she did not move and her eyes did not flicker.

Perhaps the light she had kept hidden away in some rich vault for so long was finally gone. Perhaps that one spasm of her mouth was a deeper cry of pain than ever her mouth could utter.

Still she did not move. He tried once more, and this time the force of his foot pushed her over. She lay sprawled in the dust, one hand curling in front of her. The fingers looked wrong, inhuman. As he passed her, he spat on her face. “Pig,” he muttered, his voice devoid of anger and hatred.

He did not dislike the girl.

His actions were nothing but a calm, impersonal judgement upon her for not moving. Her hands were too proud to wipe her face, and her eyes belied no desire to do so. Perhaps she really did not wish to. Perhaps she understood how little it mattered. When the sun rose and bathed the dusty ground in joyful golden light, she was lying there still, and had almost because part of the dirt. But one hand still scrabbled idly on the ground, making images of pain or happiness, or some other feeling which seemed so far away. The man had long since walked away, and longer still had the girl been from his thoughts. She may not ever have entered them. And yet certainly, tomorrow he would inflict his indifferent cruelty upon her again.

The sheltering nights would continue to fall, and the empty days would continue to pass, and soon the last imprints of the girl’s fading existence would disappear.

And who would mourn her?

She had already been gone for so long.

6 thoughts on “A Soul Caught in the Dust

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