Saturn’s Workshop

The devil that spoke to Caitlin said it was from Saturn. She didn’t think that made a whole lot of sense, Saturn being gas and all. Then again, no one else could see it, so maybe there really was something to that. Caitlin assumed the whole idea of shoulder devils and angels was just a dramatic device. Until, of course, one actually showed up. Although showing up without an accompanying angel was, in some ways, disconcerting. Did one earn a shoulder devil? If so, how? And did they all come from Saturn?

It didn’t look like a medieval portrait of a devil. Instead, it was closer to a bug. It was a little bigger than a hummingbird, with a voice that sounded like rusty gears. It could read people’s thoughts, and would often tell her how the conversation as going: “they think you’re stupid,” “this one wants to leave,” “she just thinks your nose is too big,” “see that? That look away? They are bored. They don’t want to hear what you have to say.”

The favorite place for it to visit was while looking in the mirror. An exacting critic, it discussed every pimple, bit of dandruff, looseness of the chin, slightness of the lips. Other times, it would just mockingly say “look at that” over and over. It would never answer exactly why it showed up, just after college, taking up a permanent residence. All that it would say was that Saturn was a lonely place. Sometimes it just rattled off numbers: loan totals, ages of people who accomplished great things while younger than she was, hours spent on the internet for a given day. It would not answer, when asked, what business loan debt was to a devil from Saturn. It would just give a hissing laugh.

Television seemed to be the only way to quiet the thing. It would sit through a binge watching session of anything, happy to go along for the ride. It took a particular delight in saying things like “we would never do that” (only at these times did the devil combine both Caitlin and it into one unit), or, “isn’t the acting in this terrible?” So, when it wouldn’t shut up, she’d put on something and let it watch for a few hours. Sometimes she’d fall asleep first, and it would continue to stare into the glow from the computer screen until late in the night, still criticizing the people on screen.