From ‘Things That Happen to Hearts’

“What’s loneliness?” he asked.

The girl paused.

“Its the feeling that the world is a giant ship on an endless ocean. You are thirsty. You are holding a cup. You are surrounded by people. They are laughing with each other and they can’t hear you because they are busy toasting at beautiful tables. You are running through the halls on the ship. You cling to some of the people and they share their champagne, but you soon discover their bottles and glasses are empty, and you are still so thirsty.

So you leave them and walk through rooms, calling out to anyone who might have water. But the people who work in the rooms do not have ears, so they hand you bread instead. The bread is dry and you wonder why you took it. You eat it because you’ll take anything at that point.

And eventually when the feeling becomes so overwhelming, you reach the edge of the ship, and you realize the only way you will ever drink again is to jump in the sea. It is limitless. It leads to everywhere. It is the answer. So you wave at the people without ears, and you yell at the people who cannot see you, and convincing yourself that they must have noticed, and they will care, you jump in the ocean… only to discover it was never water after all.

The ship slowly passes you in the night, and you are left floating in the darkness, alone.
And you are still thirsty.”

He stared at the girl in horror. “You have felt this?”

“Of course.” She smiled wryly. “I’m a human.”

(From my upcoming book of Original Myths, coming in 2019. 🖤)

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