An old, wooden bench, with rusted iron bars, sits beside a playground. Trees with dark bark and viridescent leaves that whistle in the wind, fill the surroundings. The air is crisp and fresh. A girl of no more than 20 years resides on the bench. She’s been here a while, gazing at the trees, the grass, the soil. She savors every moment, for only she knows how precious and fleeting it is. She knows that the Earth’s poles are just beginning to switch, slowly, unnoticeably. For now, everything is fine, everything is safe, predictable.
The girl observes a family of three, a mother, daughter, and a father; in the time in which she comes from, a full family, is a rare sight. She watches them as they blissfully walk towards the playset, hand in hand. The child giggles with delight towards her parents and they laugh. The infant’s mother swings her up, into her safe and loving arms and the father then hugs the two of them.
The Earth’s magnetic poles are mid-switch and natural disasters torment the remains of what once was a vast civilization of humans. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake has just hit shelter 33.
The ground violently shudders as cracks run their way up the sides of the shelter. Pieces of concrete vibrate and loose their grip, crashing down among the people. The girl, now in a different body and age, covers her daughter, in protective arms. Her husband does his best to cover her from the rain of rocks but debris cuts at her face. The inevitable collapse of the shelter becomes all too real and she shouts, “We have to run.”
“Where? How?” he replies.
“Straight out. Right there.” she says pointing through the shower of concrete to the only entrance that has not yet caved in.
“Can we make it?” he replies.
“We have to make it.” she says and looks down at her daughter. Her husband follows her gaze and sees a stream of tears running down their child’s face. Parental instinct overpowers rational reasoning as he kneels near and says, “Sweetie, look at me.”
The little girl’s big brown eyes search her father’s for safety.
“We’re gonna be fine, we’re gonna make it.” he tells her.
Her tears slow down.
“You promise?” the daughter asks, her voice shaking with uncertainty.
“I promise.” he says, together, he and the girl stand, and they run, dodging the rocks that plummet down. The daughter grasps her mother’s hand. Hope wells up inside them as they reach the growing pile of boulders before the entrance. The husband hoists his daughter over to the other side, then his wife. The two stand on the other side waiting in desperate anticipation.
His head appears at the top of the pile, and for a moment they stop, and share a smile of relief in unison.
The ceiling caves in.
She falls to her knees.
And a cloud of dust envelops and chokes the last remains of hope.
As Earth’s magnetic poles slowly switch, the magnetic field continues to weaken. Radiation from the Sun seeps through the cracks, those who yet remain suffer the consequences.
The daughter lies asleep in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors and machines. Her wispy blonde hair strewn across the pillow. Her skin is a light yellow color and her veins are clearly visible. Her breath is slow and weak, she wears an oxygen mask. Her mother, sits by the side of the bed, holding onto her cold, bony hand tightly. A doctor walks in and asks the mother to join him outside.
“I’m sorry...” he begins, “We’ve tried our hardest, but we just don’t have the resources… We’ve ensured she won’t feel the pain, but in an hour, her major organs will fail and…” The mother barely manages to listen to the rest. She painfully drags herself back into her daughter’s room and sits by the bed watching her child, her beautiful baby. She strokes her blonde hair, and remembers; her lopsided smile, filled with laughter and innocence and her warm, trusting dark eyes. A stream of countless beautiful memories, a life, overflows, highlighting the pain of reality. She bows her head in complete desperation and whimpers softly. Her daughter suddenly wakes up.
“Mommy…” she whispers in a weak, faint voice. Her mother looks up with wet eyes.
“Mommy, am I going to be ok?” her daughter asks. Silence fills the gap as she attempts to find something to say.
“Sweetie, do you feel any pain? If anything hurts tell me, we can talk to the doctor.”
“I will Mommy.”
A moment passes before she adds, “I love you so much, so, so much.”
“Me too Mommy.”
The mother is all out of tears and tries to smile through the pain of her heart shattering into a million pieces. They hug and become one again, like they were before she was born. The mother inhales her child’s smell, feels her breath, and is pierced by sadness.
With all her loved ones gone, she devotes herself to the Travelers, a group of volunteers whose consciousnesses are beamed into the bodies of people in the 21st century so that they may complete their mission. There is no returning to the future, there is only the hope that their work will saved someone or something. Their mission is to plant new forms of common crops that will survive the radiation the world will later experience and make their consumers immune to the effects of excessive radiation. The woman is beamed into the body of a woman no older than 20. She and her team are able to complete the mission but at the cost of almost all of their lives. She is the sole survivor.
A Little Darkness To Get You Going
She sits everyday alone, on the wooden bench by the playground. Every afternoon spent watching. Remembering. Searching for some sort of consolation, some sort of purpose. There’s no longer a husband, no longer a daughter, no longer a mission, and no longer a team. There’s no longer anything. So why stay? Who or what to stay for? What’s the point?
Some day in spring, a girl with wispy blonde hair spends hours on the swings. Another day in summer, a young child with a lopsided smile, laughs as she slides down the slide over and over. And sometime in winter, a daughter with deep brown eyes hugs her mother lovingly.
Wispy blonde hair...
Deep brown eyes…
Everyday more and more memories rise to the surface, beautiful memories, but all tinged by her harsh reality of loss and grief. These fragments, these moments, bring a bittersweet melancholy; an unbearable sadness, whose context is unconditional love. She feels an emptiness caused by the lack of the profound purpose found in her child.
Yet one day she finds some solace in these moments, in watching other people’s kids. She finds some consolation in the fact that there are fragments of her daughter all around her. Some comfort, in the knowledge that her loved ones are never truly gone, that in some sense they will always be with her and around her. Not fully, not always, not as before, but still there in a different form. Because the mystery of being is a permanent mystery. Because on a spiritual level we are all connected in a way that continues between the comings and goings of life forms. Because love doesn’t die with life.