Who We Were

February 21, 2018
By V.A.Brontes, Demotte, Indiana
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V.A.Brontes, Demotte, Indiana
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I stand on the natural stone pier that juts out into the ocean.  The waves crash and break on the stone, a crisp, cool air rushes across my cheeks.  I lose sense of time as each breath slowly fills my lungs and escapes with an equivalent steadiness.  I look to my left, the walls of earth tower up to the heavens, to my right-likewise.  The sky, although grey, has immense depth.  The most dreary hues, like an artist’s deft hands, paint a masterpiece of the horizon. 
It’s only a few days before departure for my nine month journey.  This is the last sense of humanity I will have for a long while.  There is a whimsicality in the physical world.  Feeling the air hit your body and fill your lungs, or the sea spray your face brings a contentment found nowhere else.  One would think I could find comfort with family or friends, unfortunately that is not the case.  Solitude is solace.
A small bird flutters to a rock beside me.  He is late for our meeting.  I sit myself down beside him, as is tradition.
“Long day huh?”  No response.  I pull a sandwich out of my inner coat pocket and share some bits with him.  “How’re the wife and kids?”  He sang a perky melody.  We share a moment of euphoric silence.  “Is it nice to be a bird? To fly, free from the cares and worries of society?  No bosses, no deadlines, no governments, just life, just blissful existence.”  No response.  He continues to indulge in the crumbs between us, and I finish my share of food.  “I’m going away for awhile.  Diplomacy. At least 3 years, maybe more.  I set sail in a week.”  Hours pass, and the artist changes his palette, the horizon floods with orange, pink, and red.  The sea mimics the sky, dreaming to achieve such beauty.  “My, will I miss this sight.” 
I return to the stone pier once again.  My visits are becoming more and more frequent as my departure encroaches.  The sea is calm, the sky blue, and the sun blesses the world with warm, welcoming rays.  The walls of earth catch my eye.  Layers upon layers, each like a natural time capsule, each with a new story to tell, a new discovery to be made.  This magnificence can only exist through the millions of years of conflict between earth and sea.  The water wears away the stone, the stone turns its scars into a masterpiece.  Through destruction came beauty.  Through discord, peace.
I pull out a package of trail mix.  The bird once again lands at my side.  I place the package on the ground between us and gift him a few morsels, dried berries and nuts among other things.
“Well what shall we discuss today?  My upcoming voyage?  The latest news regarding the new nation states in South America?”  He continues to indulge in the contents of the plastic cornucopia.  Again no response.  “I noticed the cliff sides today.  Beautiful aren’t they?  Nature is a talented artist no doubt.  She has painted for millennia before us and will continue for long after us.”  I pull out a second, smaller bag of trail mix for myself and enjoy a few almonds.  “Now that I think about it, I’ve always had an appreciation for nature.  The breathtaking scenes, the wild animals, the simplistic beauty of life.  I remember back in university I had different nooks around campus where I would sit and study.  Some under the shade of a tree, or in the tree itself.  Others on the banks of a pond.  The red, yellow, and gold reflecting off the water’s surface.  The cool breeze of Autumn whisping through my hair.  This pier is a nice taste of that calmer, simpler life.”  I return my gaze to him, he had eaten his fill and focused his attention on me, I don’t know for how long.  A certain joy ran through his eyes, he seemed enchanted with my words.  “I know some of your relatives prefer the concrete jungles, so do mine, but I can’t stand it.  The noise and lights just have this way of infecting the mind.  And ya know, somehow I feel more alone there than here.”  He lets out a melodious agreement
We sit for awhile more, finishing our food.  The wife comes to join us.  She does not sound pleased.  The two exchange a flurry of notes.  Seems the bird forgot he was no longer a bachelor.
“Better be going, it’s getting late anyways.”  The pair fly off back home.  I make my way across the shore and to the elevator scaling up the island wall.  Once I reach the island’s surface a second sunset floods into the horizon.  The sudden starburst sets the world ablaze.  Fiery, serpentine, tongues slither across the sky.  I hurry into the facility, pursued by the conflagration engulfing the atmosphere.  Then comes the shock wave.  This island is the only place protected from the bombings.

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