And then Mikal asked her, “Do you know what it means to have a soul?”

She didn’t reply.

“The word soul derived from the Greek verb to blow,” Mikal said coolly. “Irina, meanings get tossed around over time. Centuries ago, the word soul was the root word for binding, associated with the notion of being bound to death, as in the ritual of binding, or restraining, a corpse in a grave so it does not return as a ghost.”

Irina didn’t stir.

“The Greeks and the Jews believed that our bodies are vessels, and our soul is what gets passed on from this life to wherever we go next. They translated the word soul as a vital breath of life. From God, perhaps.”

Mikal paused, letting this settle for a second.

Then she cut in. “Why are you telling me this now?”

“You know, the Ancient Egyptians mummified the remains of their loved ones and inscribed the sarcophagus with words telling us that to speak the name of the dead is to make them live again. To write something down is to make it come true.” Mikal spun the globe slower and slower. “Everyone you ever knew eventually is in the story of your life,” he said. “You, Yancy and even I play a very small, yet, exceedingly significant role in the lives of people who we may have not even met before. People who you pass by on the streets without even thinking about. We get stuck on the subway with them. We wait in the same lines and breath the same air as them. And these seemingly inconsequential moments might turn out to be some of the most important ones of your life.” He paused, tossing the globe around forcefully. “These people are all a part of your story. Try to remember them, because they remember you.” He noticed Irina looking at the envelope out of the corner of his eye. “People leave their stories scattered about the earth, like that one you helped piece back together. And stories are most of the time filtered through many storytellers along the way. Names are confused. Facts are misconstrued. Or intent might be lost. But the important part is that they’re passed along. We breathe in and out as we tell our story to others. Then the other person breathes, and our story gets passed on and on, forever, making up the story of all our existence. Breath by breath, until our very last.”

— from “Sioux Falls, Left Part”


(almost there, like, almost almost)