Title: Balance
Series: -
Characters/Pairings: -
Summary: I'm just here to judge you. Don't take it too personally.
Notes: 31_days, July 15/Heart of Darkness

Humanity has a fascination with balance. Yeah, yeah, I know-- 'For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.'

But people aren't physics. Not in the way I mean, at least. More like... good and evil, darkness and light, yin and yang. In order to have a supreme good, there's gotta be a supreme evil, all that...

It's not physics, really. Not like that. Sometimes a whole lot of good overpowers a tiny bit of bad. And sometimes... Sometimes there's just darkness and nobody knows where the light is.

You've probably read stories about beings like me. Well, at least I have. Humanity spends a lot of time thinking about darkness. About the darkness in the hearts of others. Maybe less so about the light...

But here I am. Sent by... well, let's just suppose there is a supreme good and a supreme bad. I'm not even middle management, nor do I want to be. I just... have a calculator.

No, it's more like a clicker. Click one side for good, one for--

It's an app. On my smartphone. I use a custom-designed app to judge humanity. It's not in the official shop or I'd recommend it. Nice buttons, easy to use, all that. We got some people who really understand both form and function.

Well, anyway... You aren't here for the details on the app. (Except for you over there, of course. By the way, you're a good person. Keep doing that stuff you do, okay?)

Right now, I'm in a mid-size city in a mid-size state in the middle of the U.S. of A. It's mid-afternoon and I'm sitting in front of an empty building in the middle of a block on what was once called Main Street but is now named after a previous mayor who was an okay guy most of the time.

That's really all anyone can ask for, right?

I look young, but not too young. A little rough but not utterly unkept. I have a backpack which is just a prop and filled with styrofoam peanuts that were otherwise on their way to the landfill. You gotta reuse what you can, y'know? My hair is cut short, my sneakers ratty, the rest of my clothing suggesting I have opinions.

And I have a coffee mug, ceramic, which says World's Best Grandma. It was also on its way to the landfill, as is the general fate of all World's Best Grandma mugs once Grandma has shuffled off to wherever you believe she went. But are you going to buy your Grandma, assuming you have one or two or three or more, a used World's Best Grandma from Sally's? Besides, if you have more than one Grandma left, how does that even work?

It's not a bad mug, though. The glaze is in good condition and it's not stained. Grandma probably never even used it.

It has forty-seven cents in it, which I found in the backpack and was probably left over from when I did this last month five-hundred miles away. I try to keep a little starter change, since it looks better. But... normally anything I get, I donate right back to somebody who actually needs it.

That's less me doing good, for the record, than me having no use for money. I could put it into the bank account of some tech giant, but I'm more likely to pass someone in need or a church or whatever first. By that point, I'm ready to clock out.

Okay, that's all managed on the app, too.

You know what I mean.

A dozen people walk by me, most doing the practiced "don't look", though a couple are so busy looking at their own phones that they literally don't see me. I get to cheat a little. I can see what's in everyone's hearts. Not-- Not their literal hearts, I mean. But their balance, I suppose.

One lady doing her best not to look at me feels pity and regrets not stopping even as she makes it to the next block. But she doesn't come back. One man wonders if I'll be dead tomorrow and if he'll have to step over me. Another debates calling the police. Oh, this is one of the new ones-- literally has no cash, doesn't think I'd have a phone or cash app.

(Phone yes, cash app no. Not yet, at least. I'll have to ask.)

I don't click anything for these little micro-transactions. People need to interact with me, not ignore or "ignore" me. How am I supposed to judge the young man too shy to give me his last $5? He was also too shy to talk to a guy he likes, too shy to ask for a raise, and too shy to get his coffee refilled at a diner this morning.

The next woman by has a child in tow. She pauses long enough to silently drop a dollar in my mug. I smile. Yeah, it's a dollar, but to her it's a lot so to me it's a lot.

A few more people "ignore" me, and then an older man comes by, full of hate for himself, for me, for everyone on the street. I expect him to say something but he pauses and then moves on without a word. I do not count him. I cannot. He's above my pay grade.

The afternoon wears on. I end up with nearly fifty dollars, though I've also been propositioned twice, been threatened three times, and... Well, let's just say the high point was a young man letting me know where the local shelter was. He'd lived there for awhile and it'd done wonders for him.

Also, before I forget, the app is weighted. Not all good and not all bad is equal. I don't have a button for 'okay, I guess', either.

Anyway, I sit there until it starts to get dark. Nobody has wandered by in about ten minutes. And then--

I suppose this is the part of the story where I mention that everyone who passed me by came back or something, and we all sat on the sidewalk and sang Kumbaya? Yeah, that didn't happen.

Then I get to my feet to go make an anonymous donation to the shelter and clock out for the day. The End.

Oh, wait. You're probably wondering how the little tally on my app ended up. Doesn't matter. I'm not saying that a single day can't define someone, because it can. But a single day doesn't define everyone.

People aren't physics, after all.

And not everything needs to balance.




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