Being human, Lucy carried with her an empty space. The empty space was good for holding things, which was maybe why so many folks liked to give her advice on how to fill it.
Her mother and father told her to fill it with dinner, and went so far as to keep Lucy at the table until she’d done so, peas and all. This was not a fullness Lucy especially enjoyed, as it ached far past bedtime.
Ms. Gravita sighed one day, having hauled Lucy into the Mr. Fox’s office, and said her head was meant for filling with multiplication, and not that mindless humming. Mr. Fox agreed, and for awhile Lucy tried the multiplication. It did not go well. Lucy kept her humming to recess.
The boy who kissed her hard behind the tennis courts had a name, Eric, that seemed to fit nicely into the empty space for awhile, until Lucy heard he took all the girls behind the tennis courts. The space twisted up for a long time, and to Lucy’s surprise even more tightly than it had after all the peas. It remained empty, asking for nothing but waiting for what Lucy could not think it wanted.
Mr. Lonus, the theatre manager, waddled over one evening just after the seven o’clock show had emptied out and warned Lucy that singing was not workplace-appropriate. Lucy nodded, but wondered how on earth the man could have heard her all the way from his office. She bit her lip to keep quiet, after that; Mr. Lonus had his own empty space, and Lucy felt guilty for having filled it with something he didn’t want.
One October, as Lucy walked to her car, a nameless man who could not or would not hear her filled her with a hush that would not leave, and this silence lasted the longest of all, and felt the twistiest, and her space was somehow both the loudest and quietest it had been.
Each night for many nights after that one, Lucy thought that maybe the empty space was not hers to fill. Still, she reached out to it a dozen or more times a day just to be sure it was still there. The space hummed, it quivered when poked, and Lucy tried once or twice to fill it with the things folks suggested, things like knitting and God.
The space did not appreciate this.
In fact, the emptier it became, the more it seemed to yawn and stretch and bounce Lucy’s voice back into the world, a voice which became a little surer as the nights passed. In the dark there were no folks to hand her those things with which they filled their own spaces, things they thought would fit Lucy’s just as well. Lucy began to pull air through the space, and the space enjoyed the breeze. It began to use it for more, to gather the flats and sharps and wavering whole notes Lucy rolled through and to sweep the sounds up and out. The notes began to grow, began to collect words.
Lucy carried the empty space, then, and filled it with nothing, and stopped believing what other folks said about emptiness.