The Collector

Seven-sentence short story.

She collected breath like dream catchers collected nightmares. Creeping into your house at night, crawling in through open windows, picking locks when doors were closed, she’d capture your breath in a jar. Sealing the jar against your mouth, she’d watch wide-eyed as your face scrunched, struggling against the glass pinned to your face.She’d been doing this for years and no longer feared waking anyone up; the jar always fogged up with your breath faster than you could be pulled from sleep. She’d snatch it away and hold it close to her chest, twisting the lid on tight to keep your exhale in and be off to the next house to gather more, and she always needed more.

She knew these breaths were the key to everlasting life and she was investing in her future.

Missing time

You wake up in an unfamiliar place. The room is furnished only with a cot. Minimal blankets cover you, the rough old hospital kind, white with blue stripes at the bottom, but you’re not cold. In fact, you don’t feel any temperature. Not hot, not cold, it should feel just right but it doesn’t; it feels all wrong.

You look up at the walls and they’ve been whitewashed. They are bare and uniform. Except for one spot. There is a dark ring on the wall, outlining the shape of a clock that should be there. Two holes sit where screws were to hold the clock in place.

It’s a simple item that’s missing, but you can’t stop staring at the empty space. Nothing is as it should be and that knowledge sits perched on your shoulders, whispering tricks and lies and uncomfortable truths in your ear. But you brush it off and stare at that empty space.

You blink and wake up. You almost forget about the dream, but that empty space with those two holes invades your memory throughout the day.

You write it down in hopes that with the act of transferring the words onto paper, or into a glowing screen, you will transfer that image out of your mind.

Only time will tell, unless it’s been stolen.