My role in the World of the Living in conjunction to the World of the Divine can be generalized to that of a mediator. My duty is to collect shattered dreams. However, that duty extends to something much more powerful than just miscellaneous cleanup. It started as a human urge, but then turned into something timely enough to be named a hobby. Though, I wouldn’t classify myself as human at all. Perhaps it was only that, just plain curiosity. Either way, I talked to humans of my own volition. And if I so helped them amend their shattered dreams, so be it.
“You know, people don’t usually go up to strangers to talk,” Reed said as he circled the bench and began balancing his cigarette on his fingers.
“It’s not something most people would expect,” he continued, “Most people would leave strangers alone. They would want absolutely nothing to do with them. And yet, here we are. It’s funny how these things go.” He walked towards the boulder, and began tracing his hand over its surface. I could tell how smooth it was from the way he skinned the grey skin.
“What do most people usually do then?” I asked. He moved over towards a flower bed, crushing his cigarette beneath his feet and began brushing one of the petals.
“This,” he said with a firm conviction, “I don’t know about other people. But this is what I usually do.” He chuckled, “Not the most interesting thing to be doing, I know. Sorry to disappoint.” Reed got up and shrugged. He wanted for everyone to know about him. In his dream, he was smiling among friends, smiling among those who were affected by whatever it was he did. People praised him, found his work to be inspiring. He was without a doubt someone in this world whose name would stir attention. And in his dream, he was uncontrollably happy. He was clean cut, someone of appearance. That person now seemed not to have changed clothes in a week’s time, had a gruff voice, and enjoyed going to the city’s park to look at flowers. I wasn’t judging, but it was a far cry from his dream.
“It’s a quiet life, I can respect that,” I said with a shrug. He chuckled at my quip. The air around us began swirling in a rapid. It brought about the scent of flowers and dirt. And most of all, it filtered the smog that engulfed the bitter whole of the city.
“It’s a change of pace for sure, don’t know if it suits me. But I guess it’s nice.” He moved to another bed of flowers, and placed his fingers on another petal. The winds blew for another spin, and the gathered nature spun around the space between us.
“Why don’t you find something more suiting then?” He looked over at me before looking back towards the flowers.
“Change my way of life?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out another cigarette. He pointed it my way, “Want one?” I shook my head. Not that I could contract a human disease or be prone to cancers, but I had no desire to smoke among most things.
“I wish I could change my way of life. Doesn’t everyone? But this is all you’re ever going to know of me. From here on out, I’m just going to live my life as that one dude who liked going to the park. Nothing more nothing less. What about you? What do you want to be known for?”
“Me?” He began fingering the cigarette, and although his other hand was deep in his pockets, he remained steadfast.
“I’m sure you’re life isn’t all about stalking people–”
“Not stalking.” He shrugged backwards with both his arms up and then brought the cigarette to his mouth. He began tipping it like a scale.
“Whatever you say,” he added, “But you know what I mean.” I considered fabricating some kind of delusion of grandeur. Though I considered against.
“If I had to be known for something, it’d have to be this. Talking to people.” He got up and raised his eyes towards me. He took his cigarette and spun it between his fingers before biting down.
“Talking to people? This again? Your serious?” My answer was as genuine as I could muster.
“You could pretend I’m a social worker. But, that’s what I do. Really.” Reed’s eyes shot open and then he laughed. He planted his cigarette and then sat back onto the bench.
“Well I won’t try to argue against that anymore. You won’t give in if you are lying, so I’ll just say you are. So why me?” His eyes as they looked at me were calm. His breathing was slowed, and I saw his fingers tapping away.
“Why not?” He snickered.
“You really are a strange one.” I smiled. He began shaking his head as he looked over with a light smile.
“How’s that like, talking to people like this? Doesn’t it get tiring?” I wondered if I’d ever have the chance to bring about his shattered dream to conversation. After all, that was my goal. Though, it wasn’t that I hated the idle chatter. It was another part of being human.
“I wouldn’t say its tiring. Not at all. You learn from every single person you talk to. It’s quite fun.”
“If that’s the kind of marker you have for fun, than I’d say you really are strange.”
“What do you do for fun?”
“Other than this.” I smiled at him as he looked at me with an open mouth. He shook his head and sighed.
“I can’t say,” his voice was carried with the wind.
“So you really have no hobbies?” He shrugged. He got up and then dug into the dirt with his foot.
“You’re not lonely?” He stopped. The wind blew, and as his eyes looked blankly towards the ground. He shook his head as he turned towards me. His eyes avoided mine.
“Do I look lonely?” I wasn’t one to be able to discern human integrity, but, I had no intention of lying nor keeping what I knew to myself.
“Awfully so. Anyone would look lonely sitting by a park like this. Don’t you want to be out there, doing something? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some eyes on you? To live a little?” I tried my best at keeping a calm composure as I slipped in his shattered dream. I wasn’t anywhere near a human, but I hoped I could pass as one. My room always made the most prudent decisions in modifying my appearance as I stepped through its door. It was something alike a gift from one divine to the other, though, it was most likely used to keep me in check. If not my room, then I’d have to deal with divines I’d rather not meet.
“What about you then? Do you want the limelight? I mean going out and talking to people is just as good as going to a park and spending your days. They can both be lonely professions. It’s funny how these things go.” He avoided the question as he skipped along towards the streets that led out of the park.
“Come on, you want to talk right? Staying like this will only make me cramped. Besides, I think I have somewhere I need to be.”
“You think?” I followed suit. He brought his hands to his pockets, but then shook his head and let them rest.
“Right. It’s–Complicated. But since you are being so persistent. I’ll do something a little less lonely,” he raised his voice and his eyes before chuckling. We made our way back to the main streets. The quiet of the park became a frail afterthought as the crowds of cars came rushing by. We could barely fit the streets as we weaved through hordes of bodies. I was lucky to be able to keep my eyes on Reed. I saw glitters from every angle, though, what interested me the most, was the hobby I had in front of me.
“I don’t know what about you makes me want to talk. Maybe you’ve cast a spell on me,” he chuckled as he turned a second to see me, “Or maybe the way you talk and listen makes me want to continue. But, you’ve got some kind of talent for this thing. If you can even call talking to strangers a talent.” He made a sharp turn. Even as he was talking to me, to most, it would have appeared to be a strange man’s self ramblings. Though I could spare Reed the embarrassment if I bumped into a passerby to reveal myself. Much to his chagrin, he didn’t even notice how inane he might have seemed.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of that,” I said as I trudged through. It was the truth. I met many people under many circumstances under many shattered dreams. Most people were likened to my sudden interest, and many others just didn’t even notice. Perhaps it was the vulnerability of a shattered dream, or just foolish humanity.
“If you’re making me do something like this, you probably know a lot about me from just our conversation, right?” He wasn’t rushing, but he exerted much more weight and step to his gait. His voice was rising in a trill as well.
“Would you be surprised?” I said adjusting my speed.
“You’re afraid of being alone,” he turned but before he could answer I added, “But more precisely, you don’t want to be left alone.” That was my own interpretation to what his shattered dream meant. If it was wrong, I would have seemed the fool, but the way he guided me without saying a word made me think else wise. Eventually, he led me to an intersection brimming with cars and bodies. If I wasn’t focused, my head would have been left spinning in the amalgamation in front of me. The wind that struggled to find its way towards me whistled in defeat in the distance. Apart from Reed who’s eyes were strained towards a world beyond me, I could feel the smaller presence of divines all around me. They were everywhere yet nowhere, finding their way to their own worlds, to the places they were meant to be. I followed Reed as the lights simmered green.
“What would you do if you were alone?” He asked as we stepped back onto the sidewalk. His gait was careful, his steps light, and his eyes were still strained. His hands were fidgeting in his pockets, swirling the contents without thought.
“If I was alone,” I started, “I would be fine.” He looked at me, his eyes wide. For a second, the world stopped. The zoo of bodies around us passed us by, the cars gave no mercy, and the rising fog of the city began to blanket the space between us. He lowered his eyes, and faced forward, and our world followed suit.
“I don’t know how you can say that the way you did. It’s almost–” The tacit in the air stuck on me like snow.
“It’s just the way I am. And I guess the way you are is, nothing alike me. The way we are, shouldn’t ever be the same. Otherwise, I’d have no one interesting to talk to.” I smiled though he didn’t turn to see.
“I guess you’re right. Except, we’re all interesting according to you then. Do you really believe that?” His voice simmered though the wind still carried towards me.
“Even someone like me?” Before I could realize it, the crowd had begun to congregate even more. It was as if the stomach of the city had all churned together towards where Reed was bringing me. Then, the sounds of car horns and slow acceleration filled my ears. A large building overcast came to sight. It’s glass windows overlooked the streets, and the only words that mattered to me on its overseer sign was, “Mall.”
“Even someone like you, Reed, is interesting. No matter what you think, or what you do.” He was heading towards the shopping center, and so, I followed in suit. I was lucky to even be able to hear him.
“Even if you say that, it doesn’t change how I feel.”
“And what would?” I saw him smile.
“Not much I guess. It undermines your whole spiel. That’s just how it goes.” As we entered through the doors to the shopping center, a gust of wind blew against our beings. I got the strange waft of human odor and steaming food along with fabric. Glass windows and bright ornaments paraded my every sense. Reed sought not a single hedge of attention towards any of the shops. Instead, as I followed him, I began to hear a distant melody that melded with every other sound. As a divine I had the privilege of heightened senses, and so it wasn’t a problem for me to catch onto such subtleties. However, Reed followed that sound like it was his life’s calling. His fingers tapped on his pockets as his feet bounced in melody to a sound beyond my knowledge.