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The Desertion

Short stories from the little hummingbird heart

The shard twisted in her little hummingbird heart.

It fluttered nervously, caged in her chest, yet about to escape. They were all together. All in one place, dancing, smiling, living.

Speaking of living, when was the last time anyone of them had asked her to live, and with them? It had been far too long, and although her ache for companionship didn’t remain unnoticed, it was swept under the rug, in a hurry as if it was something to be ashamed of. When was the last time you swept something under the rug simply because it would have been troublesome to deal with it?

For a moment, she cursed the affliction that was the internet. On occasion it displayed art in motion, or in this case, people becoming art. Once warm bodies, now art; warm, inviting, yet distant and untouchable, they had traversed through friendship to acquaintanceship, without remorse. When was the last time any of us felt sorry at averting our eyes from someone in the hallways and corridors we had all trudged through – moaning, groaning, laughing, sharing – together, when did we feel any guilt at not passing the smile of what was now a stranger, or not exchanging a nod?

With a jolt, she realized the place they were all gathered inside of, was the one she had taken them to. A gasp left her in disbelief. They couldn’t be proving a point by crowding at the one place she had introduced them to, it simply wasn’t them, or was it? She couldn’t bring herself to forget how petty they had been, one rainy day:

The rain softly pattered from above, only a few bodies out and about in the school courtyard. She preferred to be one of the few underneath their umbrellas, the indoors were too warm, with an almost sweltering heat and people sitting too close for comfort, no privacy whatsoever. She saw her companion then, a lone figure rushing through the moisture, who recognized her.

Rather than going inside, they began to walk in the rain, hidden underneath the big, blue umbrella, shoes softly clicking on the paved stone.2

Later, when they went inside, she greeted their circle boisterously, as she always had. There was no answer. She crept closer and tried to get the attention of the individuals, but somehow, she couldn’t evoke a response out of them. Tired of trying to join in the conversation, she finally spoke out loud,

“Why aren’t you talking to me?” This time, the conversation came to a stop, as the rest of the room stopped to listen, “Look at me!”

They did look alright; with contempt, indifference, and…arrogance? Sharing a glance, and unanimously deciding on something, they got up at once, slung their satchels over their shoulders and walked out. She could feel the room burning holes into her back, but she couldn’t move. As they were leaving, she saw her companion move along with them. One of the others stopped and softly urged her friend to move, which she did.

Petty girls, thinking of friendship as competition and alienating one person to lay the blame on.

Coming back to the present day, she’d been so lost in her memories, she almost didn’t notice them emerge from the other elevators. All seven of them were giggling at something funny, which was once her job. She was the joker, the temperamental fool, not quite so clever, but occasionally quick of wit. Before any of them could recognize her, she hid behind the pillar.

They passed from right next to her, not a care in the world, while she pressed her back against the uncomfortable stone, wishing it could absorb her into itself.

Alas, a stone is as stone does, and people are known for desertion.

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