tales [ short-story seus ]

A Chat With Martin Moss

Lilith slowly wandered through the crisp night air of Central Park. She took deep breaths and enjoyed the earthy scents as her lungs filled with the cool air. Lilith came upon a bench she would have overlooked any other night. This night, however, the bench held a disheveled man wearing a messy suit and a large pair of thick rimmed glasses. On a whim, Lilith sat down next to the man. He didn’t look up.

“Hey stranger, what brings you out so late?”
The man shuffled, “I needed a walk, needed to get out of my head.”

“What’s on your mind,” Lilith replied warmly. “I’m a people person, I’d love to listen if it would help.”

The man sighed, as if trying to find the words to say. “I’m dead,” he eventually said. “I’m dead. I fucked up, and I’m dead. She killed my sister. She killed her. Killed her.”

He took a slow audible breath and stared up into the golden leaves, illuminated only by lamp posts. Lilith didn’t know how to reply.
“I spoke to her the night before it happened. You know what she was worried about? Groceries. How she’d eat. The mob got rid of her for stealing money. Someone working on the street pushing drugs, do you think she’d be worried about groceries if she was stealing? Not that there’d even be enough to make a difference. I couldn’t get out of bed to help. She died as I… laid in bed, wallowing in my self pity over something that I caused in the first place.”
“I quit my job, hated it. Putting shit in boxes so other people can take them out? Biggest waste of time I’ve ever seen. Told off my boss, grabbed some booze at the corner store, and crawled right into bed. I only left the bed to piss or grab more drinks in those four days. I was still drunk when she called that night. Maybe if I had put myself back together she would still be here. She’d still be here and… I wouldn’t be sitting here with you. I wouldn’t be dead.”

The man gave a single sob, breathed deeply, and adjusted his glasses. “I stumbled as fast as I could all the way to the hospital when they called me,” he said with some effort. “There was nothing more in the world I wanted than to be there. Drive by. By the time I showed up she was gone. I know her boss did it, sending a message that stealing isn’t tolerated. I know she didn’t do it. She was better than that. Better than me.”
“I hid inside her boss’s house. Cried to myself behind the curtains while I waited for her to get back. Gave her time to get comfortable after she came back, house alarm on, in only a robe, drink in hand. When I showed myself I couldn’t get my words out. I tried to ask if she knew what she had done but I couldn’t say anything. I just stared at her, sputtering. She was shouting. I just wanted her to let me talk.”

The man began to quietly sob and held his head in his hands. His glasses fell to the cement. “I think that was when I stabbed her. She screamed. She screamed and wouldn’t stop.”

Lilith noticed the man’s clothes had large dark spots on his lower body, something she hadn’t seen at a distance.

“I just wanted to undo it. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I held her as she screamed. I held her as she died. I didn’t want to kill her, it just… happened. They’ll come for me. They’ll know who did it. I won’t even see the winter.”

He wiped a tear from his face and picked up his glasses, drying them off with his shirt. “Why wouldn’t she let me talk? I just wanted to tell her that actions effect others. Let her know that… she can’t use other people. We need more charity in the world. We need to care more.”

The man stared into the distance. He closed his puffy red eyes for a moment before turning and looking at Lilith through his smudged glasses.

“Enough about me though. What brings you out into the night?”

Originally posted on /r/WritingPrompts SEUS, Sidebar photo by Jordan Nelson on Unsplash