He’s never been much. He doesn’t like sticking out in a crowd and he never meets the gaze of another person unless bidden to. Even then, the contact is brief, fluttery, such that one probably wonders if their eyes are playing tricks on them. His master has always said that he will never amount to anything. He is the Sacrifice to his Destroyer. He will never be anything else.

He doesn’t say much. Nobody wants to hear him. When somebody speaks to him, he wonders why and he can’t help thinking there must be an ulterior motive. Years of being cuffed on the back of the head and flicked on the temple have taught him to stay on his toes. He can’t say the wrong thing, he thinks. If he does, pain will be inflicted. It’s not the pain that bothers him, though. It’s the rosy color that creeps up his neck and over his cheeks, that feeling of the lowly dog being caught in the act of sneaking scraps from the table. He feels impudent. He feels foolish and stupid.

He doesn’t do much, insofar as outsiders know. They see only the meek servant of the Destroyer, always walking three paces behind, bowing, and avoiding eye contact. He doesn’t act human, so they don’t think to treat him like one. Is that a robot, they think to themselves. He looks so real, but there’s something very mechanical about him. In truth, he does all of the housework. He cooks and cleans, on top of all the lessons heaped upon him in order to achieve what his master likes to call a “classical education.” This means he reads classic literature, he is forced to sit in front of a piano two times a week, and he probably knows more about etiquette than Miss Manners.

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

His master quotes this to him on a daily basis. It has been drummed into him, a mantra, his life’s philosophy. He is nothing, or he strives to be. With fulfillment, will he finally escape his master’s tormenting words? Will he no longer feel the heavy hand of his punishment against the back of his head? He longs to be nothing, he longs to truly embrace this philosophy.

It is only when he looks at him that he believes there is something more than settling for nothing. He is afraid to say so, even to himself, but sometimes, he wants more than nothing. He feels greedy, ungrateful, but if he is nothing, then that one will not see him. Nobody does. He tells himself he is content to sit in the library and watch him, but he knows he’s not. He wants more. For once in his life, he wants.

His master would laugh at him, if he knew. His master doesn’t believe in other people. He tells him they’re all tools, a means to an end. Even when he takes a woman to his quarters, it’s not out of love, but only to alleviate his own needs. Does his master think of his Sacrifice’s needs? He thinks he doesn’t–and why should he? A Sacrifice lives and dies for his Destroyer. His life will be short and brutal. It has always been this way for the people of his village. The ways haven’t changed just because they have moved. His master is old fashioned. He will never give up the traditions ground into him from infancy.

He contemplates this. If he was a Destroyer, would he, too, be content with his lot in life? He often thinks being a Sacrifice wouldn’t be so bad, if only he had a kinder, gentler Destroyer. But it is not in their nature to be kind, nor gentle. A Destroyer destroys. A Creator creates. And a Sacrifice sacrifices.

So he will sacrifice his own thoughts, his own feelings. He will not think of kind eyes that strip the walls from him with one look alone. He will not imagine what it would feel like to have fingertips caress his skin. And he will not pretend, for one second, of how his life would be if he was not bound to his master and if he could instead be bound to him.

He will do nothing. He will say nothing. He will be nothing.

He is nothing and he will stay that way.

Rachel Aseltine

R.A. Aseltine is an author and roleplayer living in California with her husband, guinea pig, and five cats.

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