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Bodies and Souls

The wind blew strong and mercilessly. With it, the wind took away the old, dry leaves from the trees lest they suffer during the winter storms. Red leaves flew in the wind and then were left on the ground for people to walk over and feel the crunch beneath their feet. And the people walked mercilessly over the dead leaves, just as was expected. They all felt that crunch beneath their feet and just showed the fragility of the body after death, when the soul has gone.

And the human body was far from different from dead leaves. When the soul leaves the body, it is left to crumble and the living do all they can to destroy the rotting body, even if the body was still alive. The body, once deprived of the soul, was there to be destroyed by the world of the living.

And such bodies existed. Bodies, still alive, the souls of which had left. In some cases the souls had left the body to escape from the pain and the hurt of the world of the living. In those cases, the body was alone. Alone to hurt, alone to rot, alone to die. And there were others where the soul lost meaning of staying with the body. When the body took control and inflicted pain, the soul left.

And so this story is about two such bodies, one of each type. It is about their worlds and a day in their lives when they were connected by the souls. The body of one was useless without the soul. It felt nothing. The soul felt the pain and now the soul had left. The body of the other was soul-less. Even with the soul, it never lost control to it. The soul left it in disgust.

The first body was of a girl called Dana. She had seen things in the world that no one wanted to see. Her soul left, having had enough of the world. But she was still alive. And so she lived, without a soul, without a spirit, without life. She just roamed aimlessly because there was no soul to tell her what to do, where to go and what to feel.

The body, which had driven its own soul out was that of one named Jeremy. He had known that his soul had left him. He had made it leave. He didn’t want to be told what was right and wrong. He did what he wanted, not what the soul told him to. He lived with the world of the living, not the world of the good. He drove the living to the dead. He was an assassin.

 

It was a quiet fall morning in New York City. The wind blew silently, yet was powerful. It held back a lot of its power for later, for when there were people outside to suffer. Now there were only the homeless. The office workers hadn’t even started their march to the offices. Everything was, hence, quiet. The roads were quiet, the wind was quiet, and the thoughts of some people were quiet. One of those people was Dana.

She was out on the road early that morning. She wanted to walk and now she wanted to stand. She was standing in the middle of a zebra crossing in the suburbs. No cars had passed there for the past half-hour. She knew that. She had been there for that time. She just looked down the road, which continued into the distance with houses on each side accompanying the long road.

She felt the silent wind touch her face. It lifted her hair and made it brush against her skin. But she felt nothing. She felt no pleasure, no joy. There was no soul, which would feel for her. All that was there was her body.

She looked at her watch. It was six o’clock and she felt like going back home. She looked down the road once more and tried to understand where she was. However, she could not comprehend what was going on. She turned and went on her route to her home. It wasn’t too far. It was on the same block she was on. She just walked slowly and that is why it would take her long.

When she finally reached home, she just pushed the door open. She didn’t lock it when she left. She entered her house and tried to feel the joy of being home. She tried to understand why she was there right then. But nothing made any sense. It was all a jumble of mixed thoughts. Nothing was in order. There was chaos.

Suddenly, her mother came down the stairs, which were in front of Dana. She looked at Dana and asked, "Where have you been at this time in the morning?"

Dana remained silent. Her mother looked at her, sighed and walked away. Dana never spoke. She hadn’t said a word for 7 years now. Everyone had given up hope that Dana would ever speak. But her mother always hoped and wished that one-day Dana would speak again. It was this hope that she would hear her daughter’s voice again that helped her live on with her life. She was divorced, had to work as a waitress in a cafeteria up-town. She barely eked out a living for Dana and her. Yet she went on.

Dana just followed her mother into the other room, with her eyes. Then she walked up the stairs to change from her bathrobe and into some normal clothes to prepare for another day. Another day of life, death and all that came as part of the deal of mortal life.

 

Away from the suburbs, away from Dana, somewhere in a high-rise building in Manhattan was Jeremy. He lived in a high floor in an expensive building in Manhattan. Now he was looking out through his large bay window overlooking the city. He saw the sun rising. It was beautiful. The rays of the sun slowly crept over the horizon and lit up the world bit-by-bit.

But he didn’t care. The sun held no meaning for him. There was no difference between day and night for him. He slept during the day, sometimes and sometimes slept at night. The beauty of the sun didn’t even lure him into feeling something. His soul-less body felt empty. Nothing could be felt. All he knew was that the sun was rising, he was awake and would probably be awake for the rest of the day.

Jeremy turned around to a table, where he picked up a diary and checked his assignments for the day. He had 3 tasks – all in Manhattan. But they were scheduled for late night. Not much work. That meant that he had the day to experience or to sleep through. He would have to make that decision. He had complete control over his life and every decision he made was his own, not that of any soul or feelings. He liked being in control although he had no idea how much control he really had.

 

Souls may leave the body, but they don’t lose control. They leave and sometimes wait for a time to return when the body doesn’t feel so much pain. Sometimes the soul may wait for a time when it can correct the evil body. And they just waited. Time had no meaning for them. If they were waiting, they were going to return, be it now or later. It would happen. For the body, the only question was when.

 

The sun had risen over the horizon and was high enough for the whole city to see. It was 10 o’clock and the streets were empty no longer. People were all over walking, driving, or using anything they could to make their ways to wherever they had to go. Where one person went, was meaningless to everyone else. The souls had detached themselves from the other souls in this city. Even in the middle of a thousand people, a soul felt as if it were in the middle of a desert at noon. You saw people, but felt nothing about their existence. None of it made any sense.

For Dana, however, this wasn’t a problem. Her soul had left long ago. She just walked down the busy Manhattan roads, with a thousand people around her. She couldn’t feel the loneliness; she couldn’t feel anything. Only five of her senses worked, without any meaning. She walked on searching for some meaning. She was searching for that, which we take for granted – Meaning.

 

Jeremy had decided to experience the day, on foot. He left his ’97 corvette in the garage of his building and took the footpath route instead. He was wearing a long black coat. The collar was turned up to protect him against the wind, which was blowing fairly cold and strong now. The wind lifted his coat and made him look like an ominous figure. He looked like death.

He liked to be death. That is why he chose the black coat. The only difference between him and death was that death just had bones, but he had a thin layer of skin over those bones. That was the only difference. Apart from the fact death carried a scythe and Jeremy carried a Uzi, that he could carry during his killing chores. Now he only had a handgun on his right leg and a knife on the left leg. He was prepared for anything, even death.

He approached a street crossing. He waited amongst almost a 100 people, who were waiting to get to the other side. They were dependent on the traffic light to tell them that they could go on with their lives. And so Jeremy waited.

On the other side of the crossing was Dana. She just stood there. She didn’t stand there because she knew that she was supposed to. She was standing there because everyone else was. She still hadn’t found meaning.

The light changed to "Walk". People from both sides of the road continued with their lives once more. They were free to move. Jeremy and Dana moved as well. They both moved slowly, as if they were thinking about something. But they thought about nothing. The thinking souls had gone. And so they walked. Then they passed each other. And something happened. Neither knew what happened, but something had happened. Dana felt something. After 7 years she felt something. She stopped on the road and couldn’t believe what had happened. She had felt something! And that was it. She couldn’t smile or cry or do anything emotional because she didn’t know how. But she was able to think for that second. She still couldn’t believe that she felt something.

Jeremy in the meanwhile was stumped. He was amazed. He had felt something. He didn’t know what or how. He just knew something had "hit" him. He felt like he was losing control. He didn’t want to feel anything and now he did. He shivered and walked on, dumbfounded.

Dana walked on as well. Her life had changed. In one instant she felt a feeling. It was exhilarating. But she couldn’t show that exhilaration, talk about it or really feel it. It was an awkward feeling. She walked faster now. There was no reason, but she walked faster and started breathing faster as well. And then she ran.

 

The souls had found ways back to the bodies. The soul, which had felt too much pain, was now awake. For the first time in 7 years, Dana was awake again. The time for the return was near, very near. And Jeremy felt the feeling. His body had had too much control and now it was forgetting how to control. For that split second, it lost control and allowed Jeremy to feel something. And then it stopped the rest of the feeling, before Jeremy turned against it. It was a proxy war between the body and the soul. And in between that war, Dana and Jeremy were trapped.

 

Dana was sitting in a small cafeteria somewhere in Manhattan. She just sat at a table. The waitress had come up to her to ask Dana for her order. Dana just looked up at her and then back down at the table. The waitress went back behind the counter, through the door to the kitchen and started crying. It was Dana’s mother.

Dana was trying to think, to find meaning. It had been 7 years since she had felt anything. Her soul had left then. It was after she was raped. She was walking to the bus stop after work at night. And in between, suddenly someone caught her, pulled her away and raped her. That’s when her soul left. It didn’t want to see anymore. No one ever knew. Dana just pulled herself together and went home. She never spoke after that. So no one could hear her. She wanted to feel emotion, but just couldn’t. It was impossible and futile to even try.

 

Jeremy was back in his home. He had been shaken up because he felt. He wasn’t supposed to feel anything. He hadn’t felt anything for 18 years. He saw his father, mother and two brothers being shot in cold blood. Bullets pierced their bodies and cut through them. Bits of flesh soaked in blood flew all over the room. Blood spilt on the floor. It was a disgusting sight. The gunmen just kept on firing at the bodies, even when they were dead. They didn’t stop. They were destroying the already dead. Jeremy wanted them to stop so badly. He wanted to cry. He wanted to do something. For a 5-year-old child, it hurt. It hurt so much, that he didn’t know what to do. All he did was watch from his bedroom as his family was massacred when they were alive and their bodies were massacred even when they were dead. The gunmen continued firing until they ran out of bullets. They dropped the guns and left. Jeremy walked out to his dead family. He wanted to cry, but not a single tear fell. All he saw was blood. Blood on the floor, on the walls and on his family. Their bodies were torn. Jeremy just ran out of his home, never to return ever again. That is when Jeremy’s soul left. It didn’t leave because it wanted to. The body drove it out. The soul wanted Jeremy to cry, but the body did not let that happen. In the battle, the body won.

Three years ago, Jeremy found the mystery gunmen. They had become "honest truckers". He finally tracked them down to a small town coffee shop. He waited outside until they finished. He gave them their last meal. When they started to leave for their truck, he disappeared. When the gunmen reached the truck, they heard sounds from the back. So they checked the doors at the back, which were open. They stepped in, the doors closed and the Uzi fired. The only light in that truck was the light of the Uzi spewing bullets at the gunmen. Jeremy fired as hard as he could. He pressed the trigger till he began to bleed. But he wanted satisfaction. He kept shooting. They died in a few seconds, blood had spilt all over, and now Jeremy was tearing away at their bodies. He wanted to take revenge. He went closer to them to see the flesh fly away from their bodies, to see the bullets embed in them. He wanted to see the blood spill over. He kept the trigger pressed, even when he was out of bullets. He wanted to cry, but his body didn’t allow it.

And that was it. That was his story. Those were his only memories. He didn’t remember how he lived after his family died, how he became an assassin, or how he got to where he was now. He just had those two memories. And now he remembered the feeling he had in the morning. He had three memories in his 23-year life. He felt something again. He felt emptiness. He screamed to the heavens. Jeremy went over to a table, picked up his Uzi and slammed the door on the way out.

 

Dana was walking home late that night. She had a long way too walk. She would have to walk all the way from Manhattan to her home in the suburbs. Her mother tried to stop her at the cafeteria, but Dana didn’t listen. She couldn’t listen. So she walked out and made her way home the slow way. Her walk was brisk, but it would take her two hours before she reached home. She didn’t care.

She went on her way, when a ’97 corvette zoomed past her. She stopped. She felt that feeling again. She knew that the corvette was responsible. She started to run. She ran as fast as she could, though it wouldn’t be fast enough. The corvette, though, turned into a gas station just a short distance up. When she saw that, she ran even faster. And she finally made it. She looked at the black corvette. It was a vehicle of doom. The driver was walking behind the station building. She followed him.

 

Jeremy made his way behind the building, checked his schedule and then took out the Uzi. Behind the building, there was an old man. He was frail and weak. His hands were not at all steady. He turned to look at Jeremy and then started backing away. He tried to plead for his life, but Jeremy just fired. He pulled the trigger strong and hard. His finger bled again. Since he had a silencer on the gun, no one could hear anything. The old man was too weak to scream. Jeremy just kept on firing. The old man was dead, yet he kept on. He didn’t stop. He saw the blood spill all over the place and tore the dead body of the old man.

Just then Dana came to the back and saw the gun firing. She saw the merciless killer, the dead body, which was being ripped apart. That was too much for her. She screamed "STOP!"

Jeremy stopped. He stood still. He didn’t understand what happened. He turned around and pointed the gun at Dana’s head. And then, for the first time, he hesitated at firing. He saw the wind play with her hair. All he could do was look at Dana’s eyes though. He saw fear, hurt, loneliness, anger and happiness all at once. She was shivering with fright.

Just then an attendant came back to check what was happening. As he saw the frightened Dana, he curiously turned the corner and had a bullet pierce his heart and brain. He dropped to the floor. Dana watched with fright as a pool of blood formed around the latest addition to death’s regime.

Jeremy turned his sight back to Dana and still looked at those eyes. He couldn’t understand what was going on. He tried to fire his Uzi, but was unable. His trigger finger was so weak. He failed at firing the gun. Yet he tried. You could see it on his face. You could see his struggle to fire.

 

It was time! The soul of Dana had found its way and was in the midst of the struggle. Now it was the turn of Jeremy’s soul. It entered the body and conquered it immediately. The body lost all the control it had. It was weak. Jeremy let go of the trigger. He let go of the gun. It dropped to the floor. He watched it fall. Dana watched it fall. Time had slowed to a frame by frame motion. They both saw the gun slowly fall to the hard ground. It spun as it fell and then knocked the ground and came to rest.

Jeremy looked at Dana’s eyes once more. He finally understood her eyes. She was scared. She was lost. She was what he was 18 years ago. He saw himself as a child in those eyes. He saw his parents being massacred once again. He saw bullets flying in front of him. He saw gore. He wanted to cry. After 18 years, he needed to cry. He fell to his knees and the tears fell. 18-year old tears were finally falling from his hardened eyes.

Dana just watched. She didn’t know what to do. Suddenly her life had rushed back to her. All her memories had come back. All her feelings had returned. Her soul had made the journey back. Now she felt her situation. She looked at the killer, the crying killer. She looked at the gun. She looked at the two dead bodies. The only thought that was in her mind was that this was crazy.

Jeremy continued to cry. It seemed as if there was an ocean in his eyes. He cried with no end. And in front of him was Dana. She just watched. She understood pain and the feeling of being lost and alone. She understood the tears. Each tear held a meaning and now she understood the meaning of the world around her.

 

The souls had returned. The bodies could feel once more. Now they could feel joy, happiness, sorrow, pain and loneliness. They could understand the meaning in their lives. They could speak, hear and understand. They were quiet no more. They could feel emotion. Finally, … they could live.