Things fall apart. We may scramble to save them, tending to and trying to nurture them to a state of sustainability, but our efforts are sometimes in vain. Tiny fissures grow and spread and we lose our footing, falling down, falling in - we hold on tooth and nail so as to preserve some part, any part of ourselves.
The devastation that comes with loss screams into our faces when all we pray for is silence. Our minds twist and become unsure, the future unknown now, our paths unclear. Once a day, every day, there is a shining beacon of hope that seems absurdly bright. And on that same day there is an overwhelming darkness that settles, extinguishing everything. All we can do is keep on breathing. One step at a time we move forward, trying to step out from our own persistent shadow, looking for help, hoping for savior, afraid of what solitude may bring. Our lives break into pieces and scatter. We clamber to make sense of the jumble, our eyes squinting hard to see the familiar image that was just there, but it is gone. Transformed. Lost. Metamorphosed.
I have been walking for two days. This journey north is infuriatingly slow, due to my ankle and in turn - this damn walker, but it has allowed me to reflect on what has been lost. In this last month I have been so preoccupied in dealing with what was directly in front of me, that I've barely mourned for the death of my former life. From the silly things, like TV show stories that I will never see resolved. To the more heartbreaking, like the loss of my parents. And every billboard that I pass is a new reminder. Need Insurance? Not anymore. Order our delicious 12" pizza today! I would love to. Don't forget - a clean mouth is a healthy mouth! Great, one more thing to worry about.
I pass silent houses with abandoned toys in the yard. A restaurant that served my favorite food. A bar that still reeks of old cigarette smoke. And there is no one to talk to. Do I miss these things? I think so. I mean, I should. I do. But I have changed. It's been nearly a month since the white flash and it honestly feels like it's been a year. I have been wrapped in a cocoon of death and loss and I am emerging as something new. I don't know what this means yet. Am I better or worse than I was? Will it be easier now? Harder?
Passing by broken cars I catch glimpses of my reflection in their windows. Sometimes my heart leaps thinking there is someone else there, and I turn around, almost expecting to see a stranger. But that stranger is me, and I cannot see myself for what I have become. My eyes have been replaced with another's. My hair, once vibrant, is now dull and being bleached by the sun. And my face is solemn and stern. I am thin. Pale. Otherworldly.
And a part of me just wants to give up. I am tired and in pain and the thought of finding a nice house to settle in, to raise my child in, quietly existing, reading, gardening, writing - sounds a little divine. Even Charlie is looking grim. I feel guilty for making him walk so much when clearly he is old and slow. He could choose to stop, I suppose, but he doesn't. He just follows me without question. Faithful and uncomplaining.
But the other part of me, the part that is overriding everything else, is urging me on. I must find answers. I must see if I am not alone. I must know if there is something more out there, other than this wasteland. How far though must I travel to be satiated? Do I walk until I drop a baby, wait a year and then walk some more? When is enough, enough?
Charlie and I have hunkered down in a house tonight. It has plenty of overgrown trees and shrubs out front which makes the house feel hidden and safe. Not that there's anything to be hiding from. But after the incident in the apartment building I'm a little jumpy. It's a nice house. It smells like incense and has plush carpet with even plusher rugs. Charlie is snoring again. He twitches in his sleep and again I find myself curious about his dreams. I have snuggled into the wide couch and surrounded myself with candles. Autumn is officially here and it is too cold outside once the sun sets. The flames, though small, are a welcome and warm energy.
I don't know how far I have traveled, it has been two days with barely many rests, and while I have had a slow go of it I believe I have made some distance. At any rate, the power here is not working. I am far enough out of the city that I must be on another power grid. It's back to using my lantern and searching for sources of water. Thankfully this house was well stocked in nonperishable foods but nothing in the way of bottled water. Though they had some bottles of unopened tea in the refrigerator so, while a tad too sweet, it's pretty tasty.
The choices of books in this house is
I hear something.
It's yelling. Some screaming? Words? I can't hear clearly. Holy shit!
There's something else, too.
I tried looking out the windows but there's too much growth in the yard, I can't see anything but darkness. I want to go outside but I'm scared. I know what goes bump in the night. And it's nothing good. But I think that's a voice!
And, howling? Or growling. Barking.
I have to know.
Charlie is awake again and his ears are perked toward the front door. If there is someone out there, and they're in trouble...
I'm going to go. This is why I'm here, right? For discovery?
Wish me luck, diary. We'll talk soon.