It wasn’t until I lost all of my emotions that I truly understood them. Each one has a color–I’ll bet you didn’t know that, did you? Most people don’t see the color, it’s just been so ingrained in their very beings that they don’t notice anymore. I’ve seen flashes of red before I should have gotten angry and flashes of green when I should have been envious. It’s interesting if you think about it. Emotions are tricky things. Without them, you don’t have any reason not to do what you want most, and whether that desire is to jump off a cliff and into a pool of water or to kill a man just because you could, the only thing keeping you from it are these little flashes of white. The best part of choosing to eliminate your emotions is that you don’t have to do anything to make yourself feel–you didn’t want to in the first place. Still…
I guess there is a downside. Emotions are what keep our souls alive. Without them, your soul starts to die, and when it dies–well, I guess what happens next depends on your viewpoint. Regardless, no body can exist without a soul to pilot it, and despite my lack of feelings that primal will to live is still perfectly strong. So, since I need emotions to live, and since I’m not willing to start feeling them again, I set up a donation box.
You heard correctly. A donation box. Just a small, black box with an orange glow visible through the slit, nailed to a tree at the edge of the forest I call my home given the…reputation…I’ve developed. People tried leaving notes inside it, just to see what would happen; their hands were sucked inside and something sharp clamped down for a moment before they were released. The first handful found that they could no longer feel surprise anymore; the next handful tried thinking about their sadness and felt that they were not sad anymore. It became an urban legend soon–people would stop at the box and offer up their misery, their pain, their hatred, their envy–anything negative that they didn’t want in their lives. All of that became mine. But holding onto all of that and feeling it myself would defeat the purpose. Instead, I held onto the emotions to feed my soul, and I turned them into a game. It’s “enjoyable” in the sense that it alleviates boredom (it would be far more convenient if boredom was an emotion…).
Anyone who donates an emotion to me gets to watch their loved ones suffer whatever was placed in the box. I want them to understand the gravity of what they’ve done. Sadness is the most commonly donated–so I start making their loved ones miserable. Nothing goes right, they can’t catch a break, and sometimes they die. What does that person care? They can’t feel the pain anyway. But regret isn’t an emotion. Usually they’re thankful at first that they can’t experience the misery being inflicted on their friends and family; that only lasts as long as it takes for said friends and family to start accusing them of being soulless and heartless and insensitive to their problems. When that happens, they tend to find their way back to the donation box, but, as I said, regret isn’t an emotion, it’s something you can experience regardless of your emotional capabilities. Most people think of regret as a type of sadness; but you don’t need to be “sad” to be touched by the sting of making a bad choice. Or maybe emotions can never be eliminated completely–maybe there’s always an echo…
Regret is interesting. Regret is a flash of black at the corners of your eyes, yet isn’t an emotion. Did you know black is the most difficult color to remove? Even worse than red. Anger can be fixed; anger leaves scars, but those can be healed. You can’t always heal mistakes, you just have to make the best of them.
Yesterday, a young man donated to me his lust, so I killed all of his suitors. He’ll never feel it again anyway, so what does he care that I killed his wife? Symbolic gestures are stupid. If you want to prove something, just do it, don’t “give up your lust so she knows she’s the only one for you” how the hell are you going to show her a good time? Well, I guess he can still feel sadness for all of those people I murdered, but he couldn’t do anything worthwhile with them anyway. In a way I did them a favor. A few hours ago, I saw the same man at the box. He placed his hand inside and felt something squishy. Regret isn’t an emotion, no matter how much these people want it to be. And I only take one emotion per customer, so he eventually left with all of the regret and misery he came with.
Every night, I open the box to check on its contents. My heart is always there, beating softly, glowing orange, sometimes a little brighter depending on how many people stopped by that day. I always go at night. Black is the most difficult color to remove, you can only cover it with more black.
A heart is a strange muscle. It’s little more than a lump of flesh with tubes in it, but it’s responsible for keeping your entire body moving. If you have the right magic, though, you can put it in a box and it will do the work for you without being actually in your body. It’s a weird sensation. It burns a lot when you pull it out. But then you don’t have to deal with anything anymore.
Today, I saw an old man reach into the box. I can’t feel it, but I know what it is–my heart tells me every emotion it’s given. This person put his contentment in the box, and then I sensed his body fall limp right on that spot. Souls die without emotions; that must have been the only one he had left. Old people are weird.
I went to check the box before dark today. That was a mistake. Colors can’t just flash in the corners of your eyes when the sensation doesn’t go away. How inconvenient. Today I could feel the pull towards the orange-colored hole in my chest more than usual.
It’s interesting how people assign meanings and feelings to colors. Yellow is joy, red is anger, green is envy. Some people think pink is the color of desire, but it’s actually orange. Desire is an emotion that leaves lots of holes.
Orange is worse than black. You can become accustomed to black’s presence, but the very nature of the color orange prevents any sort of complacency. Orange always wants something it can’t have. Orange is what keeps me from pacifying black.
Most emotion colors just flash for a moment, just reminding you of what you would be feeling if you could feel things. Orange doesn’t do that. Even black does that, and black isn’t even a real emotion. Orange lingers until it gets what it wants. No matter how red or blue a person’s blood is, the blood around the heart is always an ugly shade of orange. Sometimes rust. It depends on how long it’s been there unattended.
It can’t have what it wants. So many years with my heart in this box. Magic is reversible; regret is not. I can’t take another shift…the black will consume me. And what the black leaves behind, the orange will take. I’ve got this little spot of pale green though. I wonder what the conversion rate between an old man’s pale-green contentment and my burning orange desire would be?
Tomorrow is mourning day for some community leader who died in town. Maybe I’ll take my heart out of the box.
Maybe regret is an emotion. Maybe I just can’t take anyone else’s. I can’t take anyone else’s desire either…I guess I probably don’t need to take my heart out of the box then. Soon I’ll move to a new town–one with a lot of different people. Angry people maybe. Or jealous people. I can make them angry or jealous if I have to. This town gave me enough sadness to keep myself alive for a good 100 years or so by now. Anger is a good emotion. Resilient. Blinding. Keeps all the other emotions away. I think I’ll move somewhere on the brink of war, or in the middle of a war. Someplace with a lot of red.