“I am a shell of a human being. An empty shell, but not abandoned and forgotten on the beach, left to crumble away into obscurity. I am...”
She paused. Her eyes, once unfocused, sharpened, gazing critically at the dark grey sky above her. The ceiling seemed not to care for her scrutiny.
“A sponge. Absorbing excesses and then giving them away where needed, squeezing out every last drop. A sponge is soaked with soap and water, and then it exchanges the load for an equal amount of dirt and grime. The cleaned object benefits from the soap and water, while the sponge keeps the grime for itself. Eventually, a sponge becomes too used, and has to be thrown away...”
Her words trailed off. The speaker turned to one side, stretching her arms out before her. They fell limp over the edge of her bed.
“But you don't throw a sponge away after one use...you have to clean it. But...” Her hands clenched. Once limp fingers now tightened around each other. “If I am a sponge...who would ever do that for me...”
Behind her, a door creaked open; footsteps entered her room, followed by the soft sound of a weight landing on her bed. She ignored the newcomer, eyes closing in concentration.
“I am a messenger. I carry joy and happiness to those who need it, and I keep none for myself. That way the most people possible will be happy in the end. That's all anyone wants—to be happy. I can do it for them. I can deliver their happiness. I...”
The newcomer gently poked her.
She fell silent. Her eyes opened; turning over, she faced her visitor.
“Who was I even talking to...” she sighed. “No one needs to listen. No one should listen. Then they'll feel sorry for me, and stop being happy on my behalf. I don't want that...” Sitting up, she turned away, ignoring her wet cheeks. “Not everyone can be a winner. There are always those who fall short of the goal. Who are passed up by the history books. Who are forgotten.” She took a deep breath, facing the newcomer. “Tobias. If I willingly let myself be one of those people, someone else will succeed in my stead. Not everyone deserves to be remembered for who they are or what they do...but I believe everyone deserves a chance. By letting myself fall into the cracks and vanishing, I am giving all those people a slightly higher chance. Anything can happen, even at those small odds.”
Tobias blinked at her before tipping his head sideways, an obvious question in his blue eyes. Almost seeming to ask the obvious. To point out the elephant in the room.
She sighed. “I know. I just don't understand...” Lifting her hand, she touched the most recent trail of salt water. “...why this occurs, even when I don't feel in such a way.” She reached out and hugged Tobias. “I've accepted my fate...yet I can't stop them...why? Is it just a lasting effect? A final reminder that I am still human?” She choked, softly forcing out her words. “I don't want to feel. It's just a distraction from helping others. Why is this happening, Tobias? Tell me...you're my only friend. Please...tell me what I've done wrong.”
Tobias started to writhe in her arms. Startled, she let him go, ashamed by her actions. He returned to the edge of her bed before resuming his steady gaze, calming her. She sniffed.
“Thank you for listening. It helps having someone to talk to...you have no idea...what it's like...”
Tobias blinked his large blue eyes. Then he meowed, jumped off her bed, and left the room.
She did not watch him go. For a long time she sat there, just staring. A pillow found its way into her arms, and she clung to it tightly, as though terrified someone was going to steal it away.