"This isn't the end. I can't let mere sentiment intrude. I knew from the start that I cannot tame it. I am only the storm that moves its depths and stirs its tides. This is science. It cannot be owned."Some things are in our control and others are not.
I arrived at the factory just before sunrise, the fiery blaze bright orange against the early morning indigo sky. A dark column of smoke was reaching up and blocking out the full moon.
Father was already there, black with soot, carrying the bulky computers and all of the strange little robotic creatures I've made over the years out of the building.
There were workers huddled under blankets, wheezing and burnt around the edges, but okay.
My father had a brief coughing fit as he turned around to head back into the burning building.
It's a moment I would relive over and over. Was there something I could have said?
How was I to know it was the last time I would see him?
The flames licked at my limbs as I tried to dash in after him, their malicious crackle was spliced with the discordant rumble of distant thunder.
The smoke obscured my vision, the heat rapidly became unbearably oppressive, and suddenly I wasn't sure which way I had come from. It's like the opposite of a headache; my head felt a little too light. I couldn't see very well—I wasn't sure when I stopped seeing very well. There was also a roaring in my ears, like static.
This is what it's like to not see. It's not black. It's not anything.
The damage to the factory was extensive. Years of innovation, progress, and hard labour lost to the greedy flames. So many lives and lives' work, gone in a single night. It was my mother who gave me the news, her eyes clouded with regret and bitter despair.
She gave me a little plastic figurine, a bust that I had sculpted of a famous philosopher when I was young. Something father managed to salvage from the fire. The face was twisted into a sneer, its features melted beyond repair from the heat.
I felt like I was suffocating, that rushing torrent of anguish threatened to pull me deeper than any raging flame.
Father's funeral was a simple graveside affair, with just a few attendees. The casket was sitting on a metal gurney next to the hole into which it will eventually be lowered, after everyone has gone.
I found myself sitting in the front row next to mother, who seemed overwhelmed, her sadness tangible in the air. I had never seen her so glum.
I presented an outward facade of calm acceptance, my hand running up and down absent-mindedly over my mother's back. A strong, immovable anchor in the storm. But in truth, I felt like I was bubbling on a rickety raft, alone and hopeless in the middle of an empty ocean, clinging to wreckage, and this monotonous repetitive touch was the only thing tethering me to reality, the only thing holding back the deluge of water waiting to rise and swallow me whole.
I did not speak, just sat in silence through the whole service.
After the scattered guests had all departed, I stood alone at the casket. The workers lingered at a respectful distance. Father. He had the heart of a bear. Through storms, thunder and rain, sheer rocks and apathetic waters, countless failures and successes.
I had no words for him then, nor do I now. Too afraid to break the muted peace, as though leaving it all unacknowledged meant it still wasn't quite real. I feared that if I were to give voice to this cresting wave, it will crash over us all and drown the earth.
But time waits for no one, and our fragile silence was shattered as a bell tolled loud and jarring in the distance. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air.
The easiest parts of a conversation are always the beginning and the end. As in a chess game, there are only so many ways to open: "Hello!" "Heya." "Sup." And as in a chess game, once the action is done, there are only so many ways it makes sense to close: "We should do this again sometime," or "It's getting late…" The pieces are off the board, and some moves will never be made.
So, too, with life. There are only so many ways to say goodbye.
"Ordinate's creations are spectacular to be sure, but if I were to open you up—would you see anything less remarkable? Less intricately dazzling, in its own messy, squelching way? Lungs and heart and spleen, and all the rest—ticking away. Yet every day you walk past any number of such wonderful devices, and think it no great marvel.” - Coronach
“I know it may be impossible to believe now, when everything is dark and broken, but you will survive this pain, little one. Pain is a memory. Just a drop in the sea of your life. You will live and you will struggle and you will find joy. And you will remember your family from this breath to your dying days, because love does not fade. Love is the stars. You will love until its light dies, and when it does, you will love in darkness.” - Abscissa