The Bag by Melissa Manuel

Everyone knew about The Bag, not just a bag with a lowercase “B” but Bag. The difference between bag and Bag is obvious when people discuss either one. When speaking of a bag a person’s tone is simple, their face impassive as they say the word among other aimless words they speak.

When people speak of the Bag their voice changes pitch, their face blanching just a bit as their lips form the word. The Bag changes people forever, and whether it is for better or for worse depends on perspective.

When the day comes where The Bag appears a ripple passes in the village, town or city that is now  home to it. For the first to find it often finds it in a public space, somewhere high but not too high, and seems simple but it is the Bag that has been heard of everywhere. No descriptions of The Bag are given by anyone, but when the first person to lay eyes on it spots it, they can feel the dread seeping into their bones as their gaze remains locked upon the object. There is no mistaking that it is The Bag.

Soon thereafter word of mouth does the business of spreading the news that The Bag has arrived in their area. Dozens of curious or brave or sometimes considered stupid people arrive to witness The Bag themselves to squelch any thoughts that the stories were myths. “Seeing is believing” is what many prefer to believe after all. Others remain in their homes preferring to hide from the unknown.

Soon as dusk approaches a sizable amount of people have arrived to where The Bag is placed and as soon as night falls upon the land obscuring faces and blurring the features of the scenery the man arrives.

The owner of The Bag has many faces. He has been known to have hair darker than the night sky to having hair the shade of white so blinding it resembled snow. It can be long, it can be short, or there is no hair at all. He has had chiseled features, or the face of an aristocrat, sometimes a round face that resembles a small child’s. His skin has been of every shade of the Earth from a deep black that made his teeth blindingly white, to a rich caramel, or a complexion so pale he has appeared translucent.

Yet the owner has worn the same clothing since The Bag first appeared a simple black pin stripe suit with a bright white tie and matching top hat and shoes. What many people often remember and remark about is, “He wore a dark purple band on his left wrist but it seemed to be tightly bound or even just attached to his skin.”

Once the owner arrives he takes off his white top hat in a gesture of greeting to the gathered crowd with his left arm. Then he goes to the precious Bag and opens it. The crowd holds its breath and the air stands still as suspense grows around the owner and The Bag.

Then the owner places his left hand into the bag and begins to bring out a long roll of paper, it is old and it appears to be like the old scrolls seen in films. The owner unrolls the scroll and reads it carefully to himself. Here the crowd goes uneasy for they know what comes next.

The owner will continue by closing the scroll and placing it back in the bag. He will proceed to pull out a dark wooden stool that would not fit in a bag and sits upon it. He will smile and cross his legs, lower his head and speak one word. The word is never the same. It seems to be a word that will only have significance to the person whom The Bag has chosen. Once the word is spoken The Bag will shake and one unlucky person will be running towards The Bag tears streaming down their face as they rush towards it.

Here is normally when people fight, they attempt to save the person chosen, others attack the owner whom cannot be touched and soon when the chosen person reaches the bag and lays their shaking palm upon it, it disappears. As does the owner and the chosen person. There are wails of agony and sighs of relief.

All this runs through your mind as you wait for dusk to fall, you wrap your scarf tighter around your neck as you struggle to remain calm, watching The Bag warily debating whether to retreat home but can’t find the strength to do so. As night falls you see the owner walk to The Bag this time his hair is a silky brown that covers golden eyes. You watch the ritual you have heard told so many times before. Your heart races and the world seems far away all you see is The Bag and its owner. You’re so immersed in watching it happen you don’t hear the word spoken and you don’t notice the tears falling down your cheeks to land on your lips tasting of salt. You don’t notice that you’re running and fighting arms. You don’t notice the purple creeping onto your left wrist.

All you see are golden eyes and The Bag.

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