The diner was busy. Richard preferred it that way. In the maelstrom of humanity he was lost. It was almost as good as belonging, or how he imagined it to be.
The waitress smiled at him as she took his order. She smiled at everyone, but Richard felt her smile was particularly bright for him.
“You need feeding up, honey,” she said, setting a plate of food down in front of him.
Richard felt the pressure to respond. “Bad home situation,” he blurted out. “Don’t get on with Mother.”
“You still living at home?” the waitress’ face creased into pity. “You need to get your own place, sweetie.”
She was right. He thought about it as he ate his meal and then two helpings of dessert. She was someone who had solved the puzzle. That was what attracted him to her.
Richard followed her out of the diner at the end of her shift. The darkness stood watch as he dragged her to his car and bundled her into the trunk.
She was still unconscious when he reached his spot in the hills. He lifted her onto the ground and knelt beside her with the stars above his head and the city lights twinkling in front of him. Carefully he cut her open from gullet to groin. Sinking his hands into her flesh, he searched her organs for his missing piece. He found it when he cut into her heart. It was smaller than he imagined, but hard as a diamond and cut like a corner piece with one jagged opening.
Richard wiped it on his shirt and examined it on his palm.
Turning his back on the city, he opened up his chest, revealing the swirling vortex inside. He carefully placed the piece into the hole that let the darkness seep into his soul. He held his breath, hardly daring to hope.
The piece didn’t fit. It fell lose, turned to dust and was consumed by the insatiable abyss.
Richard closed his chest. The disappointment tasted bitter. He cleaned his knife and changed his clothes, then turned his car towards home.