La Alma Perdida de Marguerite Espinoza
I’ve been obsessed with the idea of the human soul for as long as I can remember; the idea of some crucial essence that makes us, us. In this fantastical setting, human souls are rare, and people can fill the hole where a soul should be with the soul of an animal. Human souls become the property of only the richest individuals. Special custodians are trained to hold and transfer human souls.
Note: in a really terrible display of bad Spanish, this story was published as “El Alma” originally.
Marguerite Espinoza took her last breath as the sun slipped behind the Salt Mountains outside the expansive windows of her third floor bedchamber. Alvardo nearly missed the moment, eavesdropping to the gathered family’s whispered conversations. He had falsely predicted her passing four times in the past three days, but the passing was unmistakable. As Maestro Eusebio had said many times, “When the moment comes, you will know.” And he did.
The color from her eyes drained, leaving only pale white marbles that matched Alvardo’s own. Before the vessel could expel its final breath, Alvardo covered her lips with his own and inhaled sharply and deeply. There was no emotion in the act. It was a fact of his training, something that he must do.
The aching emptiness within his vessel filled with the sloshing of the elderly woman’s soul. The alma struggled against the barrier of his lips, then changed tactic and coursed to the back of his throat. Alvardo shakily retrieved the filter plugs from the pocket of his robes and lodged one firmly in each nostril. This is fear, he understood. The emotion had been described to him by the maestro.