by Edd Vick
Marcus Marquardt paused before opening the email from Patti. They hadn't parted on the best of terms. Would it be a diatribe? A summons of some sort? Or a restraining order? God forbid she'd send a suicide note.
But, he had to admit, Patti had never gone to extremes. She wasn't prone to depression, and excepting that unfortunate incident with his vintage Coca-Cola bottle collection, she hadn't even been particularly vengeful.
Marcus clicked on the message.
Dear M, Attached is my soul. You're the only one I can trust to hold onto it for me. Where I'm going it would only be a liability. Please keep it safe and when I return make me take it back.
There it was, the little paper clip symbol with the words "patricia olsen.soul" next to it.
What the hell? Maybe Patti was pranking him somehow. More likely, somebody or something malicious had gotten to her computer's address book. This was some trick to make him open the attachment and infect his own computer.
Still, what if? Patti's message hadn't even asked him to open the 'soul'. She'd just asked him to keep it safe. He could do that much. But why him? Why not that new boyfriend of hers? Marcus had heard he was sick; hadn't Deb said he'd gone into the hospital?
Marcus deliberately ignored the message and worked on a presentation due Monday. The clients had asked him to deliver something innovative while using their thirty-two page manual of specs. Typical. Two days later he got the call that Patti had died.
"Some weird suicide pact," said Deb. "Her boyfriend just died of cancer and she asphyxiated herself in the same room. That's love!"
Four months later Marcus cleaned out his email in-box. He paused, tapping his fingers too lightly on the keys to register. The cursor hovered over Patti's message. With a tap on the delete key he could put everything behind him. Never think about Patti again. It was absurd that the message could be from her, or if it was that she'd have been able to send something he'd have any desire to see. Her 'soul'. It was probably a picture of her boyfriend or a screed about how he was so much better than Marcus.
His finger drifted over to the key. A long moment passed.
Then he moved the message into his 'family' folder.