fiction

The short, miserable life of an empath

By the time she reached middle school, the empath had learned of the horrors visited upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of WWII–hence, she developed radiation poisoning, even though both geography and temporality vastly distanced her from those places. Too, she had learned of Fritz Haber, Zyklon B, WWI’s trenches, and the burnings of the witches throughout the middle ages… hence, she developed a myriad of debilitating conditions from anemia, to shell shock, to causally inexplicable second- and third-degree burns, etc, etc, etc.

Bedridden, hospitalized, and constantly attended by doctors, the empath had only to look upon a doctor’s face to intuit that doctor’s personal struggles: the male doctor whose wife had cheated on and left him, meaning his children were primarily raised by nannies; the female doctor who had never disclosed her homosexuality to her parents before they died, meaning that none knew the source of her weeping at their funeral. Merely with a glance from each of these figures, the empath’s body roiled with emotional as well as physical ailments, and she was overwhelmed by shame, by regret, by loneliness and alienation.

So it was that the doctors were ordered to wear burkas when in the company of the empath, and not even her parents were allowed to see her, for their own emotional dispositions were accessible to her even beneath dark clothing. That is, genetic history and memory foretold to the empath what her parents were feeling even if they themselves obscured it, so it was better that they not visit at all.

One day, the male doctor whose wife had cheated on him received a text message while monitoring the empath, and in momentary forgetfulness of his protocol he picked up and surveyed this message: seeing that his children’s nanny had been overtaken by a personal tragedy, and needed to leave early, and therefore that the doctor himself would need to depart work and be with his children, the doctor’s face gave off a momentary shudder, perceptible because the folds of the burka rumpled ever so slightly. In this movement, the empath inferred generations of filial lapses of caretaking and associated self-loathing, and it was too much for her system and she expired. 

Finally allowed to see their daughter now that they could not harm her, the parents were called to the hospital to make their peace with the corpse. A pair of concomitant narcissists, they declined; they had better things to do than sit with the stink, and anyway a further child was on the way. 

Thus concluded the short, miserable life of the empath–too porous for this world, too supple even for heaven, where peals of happiness would supersaturate her and explode a volcano of anxiety. For that reason, she was sent to limbo–God himself took pity and decided that only the void would suit this mistake. 

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