by Phoebe Reeves-Murray
Matter and energy cannot be destroyed. That’s the First Law of Thermodynamics. Energy can be changed, moved, controlled, stored, or dissipated, but not created from nothing or turned into nothing.
All people really wanted was to go back into their original hole. But they could never return because they could never fit into that hole again.
So when the hole in the ground appeared, people came first from nearby, then from all ends of the earth. Peering over its edge into its darkness, people grew dizzy. Instead of remembering the love from their first hole, they thought of things they didn’t want, the things they hated and feared, the evil things they wanted to do. They would lean over the hole and vomit their blackest secrets. The edges split under the weight of all that violent weakness.
At some point, a granite angel appeared, covering the hole exactly. The angel seemed to have just landed: one knee down, its other foot pointed just off the ground, its wings halfway folded, its eyes blank, and its mouth open. Soon people dared to look down its throat and found the hole there. They discovered laying their heads in the angel’s mouth was more comfortable than leaning over the hole, no more fear that as they screamed or whispered their terrible deeds, they would fall in and be raped by all that evil. Now with their heads in the angel’s mouth, they aspirated disappointment, pain, fear, rage, emptying themselves down its throat. For it was an angel. It could hold anything. It could hold everything. Sticking lit firecrackers inside a live cat so it exploded. Molesting one’s own child, and live-streaming the act. Raping a woman and cutting off her breasts. Chaining a man to a truck bumper and dragging his body for miles. And more and more. That cold grey stone held them up and emptied them so they could go away cleansed.
People came from all over and forced their stories into the angel’s mouth. A black stain leaked out of the sides of its mouth. The deeds that people had purged and shoved down its throat into its insides began to seep into its face, its, body. The marks grew, darkened; symbols, pictures, moving images, and nothing could erase them. More and more deeds scribbled over what came before. The angel’s mouth stretched to fit all this horror. Its lips slowly curled back and each human head that entered and withdrew gradually sharpened its stone teeth into fangs. The angel’s hands now gripped the dirt, its lips pulling further and further back until people could no longer see its face—only its maw.
A special committee that appointed itself to speak on behalf of the angel and its upkeep got a grant to clean this wonder of the world, but nothing they used could wipe away the stains and gouges. One of the committee looked into the angel’s mouth with a special light, trying to see if its throat had jammed up. But it was a stone angel so how could it be filled up? And with invisible matter, invisible detritus?
They tried raising the angel up, put in a staircase to allow the horror in its throat to drop and pack down, making more room for more secrets. But the weight sank the angel first onto both knees, then hands and knees, then into the ground itself.
Black continued to run down its neck, dripping onto the ground, burning into the earth so the committee kept a giant sanitizer for people to use to protect them from catching something awful.
They ran a new kind of robot down the hole in the angel’s throat, a robot designed to unfold to the deepest depths needed, but it disintegrated as the black acid river flowing from its mouth threatened to burn everything in its path.
Angry and frightened, the committee and the people decided they had to destroy the angel. The committee set about smashing it into pieces believing they would be rid of all that evil they didn’t want back. The people stood in a circle watching the committee smash the pieces smaller and smaller until they couldn’t be seen with the naked eye.
But matter and energy cannot be destroyed.
The particles flew everywhere, first blowing, then floating into all of the people’s holes, packing down in their hearts, in their testicles, in their wombs, and into the babies that grew there and came out of that first dark hole into the world.
Phoebe Reeves-Murray writes about the consequence of trashing animals, nature, and children; and how childhood and trauma inevitably shape the darkness and the light of the adults we become. Her short story “Fractals” was published in The Airgonaut, and her fiction has appeared in Quail Bell, Foliate Oak, and The Literary Hatchet, among others and will be upcoming in Capricious and Three Drops’ White Noise and Ouija Boards Anthology.