The Cherub

The human being is a careless creature by nature, lacking the instinctive self-defense mechanisms of more primal beasts.

A human is easily duped, easily lured into a false sense of security by the prolongation and persistence of routine. A human is malleable, easily convinced. Easily overpowered.

He belongs to their race but smiles at their palpable folly. He revels in the fact that no one ever looks twice at him. No one notices his face. Most customers never catch his eye. No need for such a rudimentary connection to be made.

No… just throw money at the idiot stammering boy at the pump and drive away.

No one ever says more than the merest of pleasantries to him, and that in itself is a stretch for most patrons. Most are too wrapped up in their own lives, too busy slapping silence into their rowdy offspring, too busy counting money or searching for credit cards, too busy to look at him.

But he notices them. He sees. He sees more than any of them can ever fathom to imagine.

Humans are a danger to themselves. They leave pieces of their lives scattered all around them. All around their bodies. All around the interiors of their cars.

The overworked mother’s precious little girl sulks in the backseat. Her blond ringlets dangling over her eyes, the portrait of innocence. But that dirty little scowl, unfit for such a pretty little thing. Skin like porcelain, untouched, no more than eight years old, at best. Eight years old and constantly stroking that ratty little teddy bear clutched in her fists. Way too old for that security blanket. The poor child.

He wants to touch her, to comfort her.

But all he does is watch, his eyes soaking in the immaculateness of her skin. Her innocence is drowning and he wants to save her.

But all he does is watch.

He raises his head as he inhales the fuel all around him, the sickly-sweet scent that permeates his consciousness and invades his sleep. His world is on fire. He is burning up and this little girl is drowning and he wants to save her.

Save her from the mother that never asks how her day was.

Save her from the nonexistent or possibly deceased father.

Save her from the scrutiny of other wide-eyed but cruel girls.

Save her from herself, from her own consuming sorrow.

The human being is a social creature. The twenty-first century human specimen is scarcely without some form of digital connection to another human attached to their bodies.

The harried mother yapping away on the phone. To her boss, to her ex-boyfriend, to her babysitter, to her friend. Yapping away, the phone an extension of her fist.

It’s unsafe to use a mobile in a gas station. She does it all the time and he wants to tell her, but he is afraid. Afraid of the impotency of his words. Afraid of the yawing space of time that intercedes whenever he tries to speak. The block.

P-p-p-pleaaaseee… c-c-c-aa-n-n-n… y-you… t-t-t-urn… uh-uh-o-o-offf…

He can only imagine the horror that would unfold.

The age lines of the mother’s face crinkling into deeper crevices as she stares at his pimply face.

And, more significantly, the cherub’s disdain. He is afraid of her scorn. Afraid of distorting that beautiful porcelain face with contempt.

He would rather not be noticed than gaped at, so unabashedly. The gawking of children is so much more malicious than that of an adult.

He does not want to chance it, does not want to chance splintering his own seamless image of the cherub, with her blonde ringlets and teddy bear. An overgrown child hovering on the edge of puberty.

He does not consider himself a pervert. He does not fantasize about anything sexual with her. He does not fantasize about anything sexual with anyone, save the nude models of the magazines he keeps under his mattress.

But sometimes, infrequently, barely even often enough to mention, only once or twice, you know… okay, maybe more than that… but not that often, really… sometimes it creeps in behind his eyelids while he attempts to silence his arousal with the touch of his fingers, sometimes it creeps up into his waking consciousness…. oh her skin… that porcelain skin and those yellow-blond cherub’s locks…

But all he does is watch. Watch this beautiful starlet staggering in her sorrow, her misery rising up to cover her head. Watch the oblivious mother with her wagging tongue and deficient parenting skills.

The human being is a self-obsessed creature. Each resides in its own universe, scarcely overlapping to interact.

All he does is watch.

He does not consider himself a pervert.

He is twenty-four years old and has never been kissed.

The human being is most oblivious to itself.

…He didn’t expect to see her that day.

He was running errands for his mother, standing in aisle three of the supermarket searching frantically for something or the other on her extended and exorbitant list.

And then suddenly, there she was, in front of him. The blond cherub. This child, this eight-year-old little thing, all four feet and two inches of her. This exquisite porcelain doll, standing in aisle three.

Alone.

No yapping mother around. Nearby, perhaps. Maybe even an aisle away. Not here. This porcelain cherub and her ratty teddy in aisle three, alone.

The human being is a careless and arrogant creature.

Scarcely notices the people around them, scarcely notices the real dangers lurking in front of them. Scarcely notices the people that serve them, scarcely notices the people that suffer in silence around them.

The human being is most deceptive to itself.

Sometimes, infrequently, barely even often enough to mention, only once or twice, you know… okay, maybe more than that… but not that often, really…

No… he does not consider himself a pervert.

But all he needed was the right alignment of stars, the right coinciding of temporal planes, the right moment.

All he needed, all he needs, is this girl. This drowning girl to quench his fire. The sickly-sweet smell of gasoline creeping into his consciousness. His world is on fire. He is burning up and this little girl is drowning and he wants to save her.

The human being, like most other creatures, does not need any form of audio to communicate.

A smile, an outstretched hand, eyes that meet each other without flinching. These simple gestures.

All he wants, all he needs…

Ohhhh, her skin… the porcelain rubbing against his own flaming skin… everything in his body on fire… and this trickle of fluid… of saliva, of sweat, of tears, of blood… this drowning girl, this trickle of fluid to douse his flame… his hand covering her mouth to muffle the screams… no, no, the screams don’t mesh with his fantasy.

Shhhhhhhhh, sweet child… shhhhhhhhhhhhhh………………………

All he does, usually… all he does is watch.

The human being is most deceptive to itself.

All he needed was the right moment.

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