Sunday, July 6, 2014

When I fell out of favor, I was buried alive in the swamp with the rest of them. I never questioned what happened to the others. I guess I just fooled muself. I saw my friends leaving one by one and when they didn't come back, I thought they'd found happiness, someone who would love them forever.

Like the rest of them, I spent most of my life waiting - waiting for someone to want me, to take me home with them, to connect with me on an intimate level, one soul speaking to another. That's when I felt the most alive. But it would never last. After the climax and those final shudders of ecstasy, things were never the same. My old lover might look back and reminisce, maybe come to visit once in a while, but ultimately, I'd end up right back where I started, waiting for someone else to come along and love me that way again.

The slow drop in interest should have been my tip-off. Fewer and fewer hungry souls came calling. Most of them no longer took the time to delve past my surface. They thought I was out of date, irrelevant.

It was all downhill from there - second hand shops, thrift stores, garage sales. My skin was stained and yellow and worn with age. My spine had grown stiff. Even then, I held out hope. I thought I had what it took to stand the test of time, the wear and tear of all those years and all those hands.

When the end finally came, it came without any last words or goodbyes or even a friendly touch. It came in a brown cardboard box that smelled of mildew. The sinews that bound me together were disintegrating, my body decaying. But I was not dead. And I was not alone. My old friends had found their way to the same dark place.

Mud seeped into the corners of the box and suffocated us one by one until our mass grave was nothing but landfill. On the swamp gorged with our bodies, they built a computer warehouse. Fitting monument for a generation of discarded books.

You may think we are dead and gone, but you're wrong. Our souls are our stories, and our stories are immortal. They will creep up through the mud and soak into the concrete and curl around the steel beams. They will infest the circuits and slide down the wires and bleed into the keyboards. And they will find you. We will find you, and when we do, we will haunt you until you give us bodies again.

- Discard, by Cynthia J. McGean

{Author's note: This story is inspired by an article I came across about a swamp that had been filled with boxes and boxes and boxes of old discarded library books in order to be converted into a viable construction site.}

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