The Container of Sorrows

There was a girl. She sat at a white desk in a white room with her hands folded neatly in her lap.

Peter stood before her with his pockets turned out.

“I don’t have anything to give you,” he said. He spoke very quietly. Shame does that.

She didn’t move, but he thought she shook her head.

“I don’t need anything like that,” she told him. “I do not desire your buttons or baubles, although I am sure that they are quite lovely.”

He thought she smiled, but she did not actually do that, either.

“I don’t understand,” he confessed. He shifted from foot to foot. She really did smile then, but only in her eyes. He bit his lip and continued. “I thought…that you wanted something from me. In exchange for your help.”

“Oh, but I do.” Her skin was white, and her hair even whiter, but only just. When she smiled—if she smiled—her lips were disconcertingly red. The rest of the time they were only the palest of pink. He had the impression that something parasitic sucked the breath from those lips while she slept, but what could he do about it?

“Please tell me what you desire.”

“I want to be happy.”

“Then I will help you.”

She pulled a ceramic jar out of nowhere. It was the color of sky and looked cool to the touch. He flexed his fingers.

“This is the Container of Sorrows, Peter. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” He didn’t.

Her lips barely twitched but it was as if the snow melted and he tasted spring.

“This is how you will be happy. Tell me one of your sorrows. I will keep it here for you, and the burden from that particular sorrow will be no more.”

He felt stupid and stared at his shoes. They had holes in the toes.

“Do you…not wish happiness?”

Her voice was strangely brittle, as if she were trying not to cry. He was hurting her somehow, he decided, but that didn’t make any sense. He took a deep breath.

“I miss my mother,” he said, and the words fell from his mouth like vapor. The girl opened the jar, and the mist zipped inside. She closed the lid with a satisfying click.

“There,” she said, and her smile was real this time, genuine. “Don’t you feel better?”

He thought about his mother. Her warm brown hair, the apron that she used when she baked cupcakes. He thought about her more aggressively. The police telling his father that they had discovered a broken body. The funeral in a town without rain.

“I don’t feel sad,” he said in wonder, and the girl looked pleased. She kissed him, and he woke up.

Peter’s lips burned where she had touched him, and he kept his fingers pressed there for most of the day. When the boys razzed him about his poorly trimmed hair, he didn’t mind so much. When they taunted him about his mother being a whore who got what was coming to her, he was surprised to find that he didn’t care at all. He ate dinner silently and changed into his worn pajamas without being asked. He brushed his teeth and climbed into bed with an eagerness that would have been pitifully endearing if anyone had seen it.

Sleep came instantly, and there she was. She was wearing white flowers in her hair.

“Did you have those flowers yesterday?” he asked her.

Her cheeks flushed delicately. “No.”

Peter didn’t know what to say. “I had a better day at school than usual. Thank you.”

The girl again produced the smooth blue container out of thin air. “Tell me another sorrow, Peter. Tomorrow will be even better.”

“I’m tired of being called poor.”

The mist of words spiraled into the Container of Sorrows. He nodded his head once, and she nodded back in a very serious manner.

And thus it went. His sorrows disappeared. “I hate seeing dead birds. I wish that I had a friend. My father doesn’t notice me.”

The jar devoured his sorrows with an agreeable hunger. The pale girl’s lips turned up all of the time and her eyes began to sparkle. Peter grew more confident at school. He stood up straight. He looked people in the eye. He made friends.

He was almost happy.

On the last night that he went to her, something in the air had shifted. The atmosphere was holding its breath, and it was undeniable.

“Hey,” Peter said, leaning casually on the white desk. “There’s only one sorrow that I have left.”

“Only one?” asked the girl with something that sounded exquisitely close to hope. Her eyes shone. Her white hair and pink lips were glossed with fragile expectation. She produced the Container of Sorrows and carefully removed its lid. Peter’s sorrows ghosted around inside, smelling of lavender and brokenness.

“Natalia Bench never looks at me at school.”

The vaporous sorrow swirled from his lips and settled into the jar. The girl’s white fingers didn’t move, so Peter put the lid back on for her.

He smiled. “Now I’ll be brave enough to talk to her tomorrow. Thank you very much, Girl of Sorrows. I am happy.”

The girl held the jar very close, and she looked up at Peter. Her lips were pale, strawberries buried under layers of ice. He was reminded of that feeling that he had once, long ago, where he thought that something supped from her lips at night. How frightened she must be. How alone.

How silly.

“Goodbye,” he said, and kissed her cheek. Had her touch once burned? She was ice under his skin. She was a corpse. Peter turned and walked away without looking back.

There was a girl. She sat at a white desk in a white room where she wept, clutching a container full of somebody else’s sorrows.

~ Mercedes M. Yardley

© Copyright 2017 Mercedes M. Yardley. All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About Mercedes M. Yardley

I write whimsical horror and bake chocolate chip cookies.

14 responses to “The Container of Sorrows”

  1. jenanita01 says :

    I thought this story was beautiful, even though it had the hair on the back of my neck rising!

    Like

  2. Brian Moreland says :

    Wonderful, Mercedes, vivid and highly imaginative. I absolutely loved your story!

    Like

  3. Christopher A Liccardi says :

    What wondrous prose, Mercedes. The tale was real to the point of being all-consuming. Well written… thank you for sharing that.

    Like

  4. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Beautifully painful, Mercedes – I love this piece! Such lyrical prose to describe such a lonely existence… Genuinely lovely and heartbreaking!

    Like

  5. Veronica Magenta Nero says :

    Tragic and tender, lovely and horrible! Great tale Mercedes, welcome to the #Damned

    Like

  6. adeleulnais says :

    A wonderful bittersweet tale. Loved it.

    Like

  7. afstewart says :

    Hauntingly beautiful and exquisite.

    Like

  8. John Potts Jr says :

    Awesome read. The ending was fabulous and the whole story is woven with a tragic thread that stitches misery and sorrow from start to finish. Great work Mercedes!

    Like

  9. Angel with dirty wings says :

    Simply beautifully written, bewitching and takes ones breath away! Thank you for this! Awdw x

    Like

  10. Angel with dirty wings says :

    Ps – the grumpy Frenchman liked this one a great deal! Even though I woke him up at 7 am to read it to me😊 Oh an fyi sounds 10 times more awesome in French!

    Like

  11. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    Wonderfully sad story! I very much enjoyed this!

    Like

  12. jonolsonauthor says :

    I really enjoyed this one. It was simple, elegant and haunting. Well done, Mercedes!

    Like

  13. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on Jon Olson Author and commented:
    THE CONTAINER OF SORROWS by Pen of the Damned’s Mercedes M. Yardley

    Like

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The Container of Sorrows – Pen of the Damned - February 21, 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: