“The Morning after the Deluge” Joseph Mallord William Turner
The stern arms of the sun had reached the Earth, but one wouldn’t know for all the dust remaining in the air – suspended by some force made visible by those particles it now held firmly in place, preventing a clear image of anything from being formed.
I suppose we should have expected this sort of reaction. He had said we would die. This must be death, this lack of clarity. Nothing can be seen, everything seems to be a trick of the eye. Nothing can be heard, all is silent, and it is deafening. Nothing can be felt, except the utter loneliness. There is no air to breath. Only dust. Only brown.
Madness swirls around me, closing in, threatening the death I seem to have survived. But only just barely.
The funny thing is, just before this all happened – this explosion, this collapse – everything had actually become so very clear. I knew things I had never known before. I knew black. And I knew white. Now I seem to only know brown. I knew there was such a thing as choice. And that with choice came a right and a wrong. There was a choice I should make. And there was a choice I should not make. But I only knew this by making the choice I should not have made. Funny isn’t it? Only I’m not laughing. No one is laughing. There is no one left to laugh. But there were only three of us to begin with. Or were there four? Whatever the answer, now there is only me. And maybe Her. I hope there is still Her. It would be hard to go back to being just me again. Jackasses make terrible company. But I suppose they’re better than nothing. Where is she? Could she have died, too? Died the way I have? Or is she gone? Forever. Further and deeper than I can imagine because the fault was hers? She was the first to choose. She was the first to listen to that voice. To that fourth. To that uninvited guest. She was the first to see. To know. To feel. To die.
But I was her caretaker. I was her guardian. I let her out of my sight. I let her go too far. I let her go by herself. But was I to keep her by my side all the time? There was so much she wanted to know. That she wanted to know for herself. That I couldn’t teach her nearly as well as she could learn on her own. Should I have chained her to me? Denied her the knowledge? Now there is no knowledge denied to us. And this knowledge has become our chains. Our chains to the Earth. To the dirt.
I am chained to the dirt now. I shall depend on it. I shall offer it all of myself. And if it finds me worthy, it shall reward me. I will sow the seeds of my soul. Of my being. And I will reap the harvest of my survival. My existence.
And I will know what it means to hurt. And I will know what these muscles are for. And I will know what it means to hunger.
And I will know what it means to rest. And I will know what these muscles were made for. And I will know what it means to be satisfied … for a time.
The dust will settle. The world will not always be brown. Not forever. The sun will win the war. All shall be made clear again. Nothing has really changed. And nothing will ever be the same again, but it will be restored.
I will find her. And we will start anew. Both of us this time. Together. No longer alone, but one. We two will be one. We two will go forth from this moment and we two will never look back to what was. Because what was can never be again, but it must be. Everything is being remade every day. And it always will be. We two will never be the same, but we will always be we two.
From here we go on. There will be danger around every corner. There will be confusion and uncertainty. It will be exactly the opposite of what we were seeking and exactly what we asked for. We will know the difference between Good and Evil. But we will know it only because we once had Good and we know have only Evil. But it is something. And I suppose something is better than nothing.
We now walk a dangerous rope, and the net has been removed. Every day we must step very carefully or we risk losing the little we do have. But every day that we succeed will be cause for great celebration. But the fear will exhaust us. The grand celebration we will have planned will look very much like surrender to the evening sun and her sister stars. And in that surrender we shall remember what we once had and we shall feebly hope to have it once again before our eyes close.
And should they be opened anew, we two will once again walk, and ask, and seek, and work. We will talk and eat and cry and maybe laugh. We will fear. And we will learn. And we will love. For that’s all we have left now. We two. I will have her. She will have me. And we have we. And that’s how it will have to be. We have never been here before, but we will come to know this place as home. A modest, imperfect, passable place. A mere shadow of what was and we hope will be again. But if it’s not, we’ll make of it what we can. After all is said and done, perhaps the end really is only the beginning. I will wipe the dust from my eyes and step forward into the world that remains.