Ramona always prided herself on how honest she was. She had perfect, unblemished skin, and that was her defining trait. She would never ever tell a lie, but if what she did ever got out, that would be worse.
"Where did your husband go?" Her mother-in-law asked.
"I don't know, he must have left." Ramona felt a small scar carve into her foot.
What happened in the basement, stays in the basement.
The Circle of Life
The second I saw her, I knew that the prophecy didn't matter. Seeing my newborn daughter, beautiful and healthy, pushed all those morbid thoughts from my mind.
Even though I knew that because she was born, I would die.
I still don't know why everyone is so sad and solomn here. A baby has been born! We should celebrate! But my mother is crying, my father trying to console her, my brother avoiding my gaze. All of them are dressed in black.
The prophecy said I would die right after my daughter was born, but that doesn't mean that my impending death should soil the joy of the birth of a child! I don't understand how they can be so dismal when their new family member has just arrived. How can they be so sad with this beautiful baby here?
I'm not even sad. Not sad that I'm dying. Even as I struggle to breathe, I am not sad.
Not when I stagger out of the room with all my loved ones, saying that I need to go the bathroom.
Not when moving makes me feel like I'm on fire.
Not when I fall to the ground, feeling like there is no air left to breathe..
Even though I know I'm dying, I am not sad. I'm happy that my perfect, beautiful daughter is alive. Happy that she will live on and be the best person she can be.
Happy that I will die so that she can live.
"Hey Charlie," the drunk man across the bar giggles.
"Yeah, what do you want?" An even more drunk man responded.
"Is your refridgerator running?"
"Uh... Yeah, I hope so."
"Well you'd better catch it!" The falls on the floor, laughing hysterically at his own joke.
Charlie just sits there unimpressed, "You'd better start running!"
He won't stop screaming.
He's only been stabbed 4 times. It can't hurt that bad.
He isn't even real. At least that's what my parents said.
Even if the people in the television screen aren't real, there are a lot of shows showing them in pain. I don't know what pain feels like, so I am a little curious about what it's like. My mom says I have con-gen-it-al an-al-ge-sia. That means I can't feel pain.
All of my friends say that makes me lucky, but am I really?
The man on the screen keeps screaming as the masked person drags him into another room, blooding pouring from the stab wounds and making streaks on the floor. Maybe I am lucky, that man doesn't seem to like being stabbed.
But I want to know what that pain feels like, what any pain feels like. So one day when I was younger, I tried crashing my bike to see if it hurt. It didn't. My parents ran over and asked what happened and what hurt, both of their voices filled with fear. I said 'nothing.'
'He's in shock,' said my mother, 'We need to bring him inside.'
She grabbed my arm and ran me inside. We passed a mirror and I saw my face, covered with my own blood. I felt perfectly calm, content. But I felt no pain.
I still feel no pain.
Even after I tried what the television showed. Even after I stabbed myself. I feel no pain.
Do you know how hard it is to not know something everyone else knows? Not knowing an inside joke that everyone knows except you.
The man on the screen is crying now. I'm crying, too. I don't know if it is from pain or lack-there-of. The man on the screen covers one of his stab wounds with one hand and tries to crawl away. I cover my stab wound and crawl towards the bathroom, leaving the knife covered with my blood in the tv room.
It's harder to move with the stab on my side. It doesn't hurt, it just feels wet and kind of sticky. When I pull myself to the full body mirror I look at what I've done.
My favorite shirt is covered with the blood from when I tried to cover the wound. I touch one of my hands to my face and drag it across, trying to copy what I saw on the man-on-the screen's face. It's such a beautiful color, such a calming color.
I don't feel the need to scream like the man on the screen did. In fact, I feel perfectly calm since looking in the mirror. I don't need to cry to let out my feelings. I don't need to feel pain to fill my curiosity.
I know everything is fine, and everthing will be fine.
Thanks to this beautiful blood.
It’s About Time
It's hard being lonely.
Being the only one that exists.
Knowing that, no matter how much you try, nothing will go back to the way it was.
Nothing is ever the same after the end.
All of us, the gods, were expecting the end would come from an attack, a war, that we would go out in a blaze of glory. We were expecting to go out with a bang, not a whimper.
All of us represented many different things. My brother was the god of life. My sister, the goddess of death. They always had an... interesting dynamic. Always fighting over trivial stuff. My wife was the goddess of knowledge. She loved to catalogue all the time that I could remember, just for posterity. That’s the only reason I’m still writing this all down, just for posterity. With hope that something comes after the end.
Our son was the god of languages. At least that was all we knew at the time, he was still a growing child. He was always interested in other mythologies the mortals cherished so much. He would come up to me and say 'Mother! Look! The Romans got you wrong. They split you into two people'. Sometimes I wish they did, then I would have somebody to talk to.
Being Time (creative name, I know), the goddess of time, I can never fade. I am always there, I always exist. If only there was a deity for space. Then I wouldn't be alone.
I gave up on crying a long time ago. I lost everyone, everything. But time marches on, and I must march it onwards. Marching on to the end, either through death, or renewal.
My son asked me if fate existed. Mortals were so interested in the concept, so he had to ask. I wish there was fate, so I could see into the future.
About seeing into the future, I can't do it willingly, it just happens. And it is always just a quick view, never enough to fully understand it. Now, I haven’t had one of these flashes in years, so I have no clue how it ends, how the future will pan out. But it shouldn’t matter anymore.
Everyday I walk through a desolate, dismal universe, filled with dead planets and dying stars, the last things lighting up all of existence. I suppose when those go out I will, too. I hope so. The total freezing of the universe will be a nice way to end it.
My strolls through the universe are the only reason I know that all of it is dying. It just shows me that the desolation left in one place isn’t local, it’s throughout all of space. Just showing me that the end, the only future, is near.
All but one of the stars have gone out. But this one is very close to its death. I step close to the star, the heat heavy on my skin, but not hurting me. This is the last bit of life in the universe. The last bit pushing time further, pushing me further. I lay back as best as I can in this zero-gravity environment and watch this star burn and burn.
Until it stops.
All of the heat is gone. All I can feel is a crippling cold as the temperature ticks down to absolute zero. It doesn’t hurt, I can’t feel anything anymore except for the relief in my heart and the sorrow for the real end of the universe.
Not a cosmic rip, not a cosmic crunch, but a freeze, a slowdown, the temperature a ticking timer moving towards the end.
I would cry if I had any moisture left to cry. Cry of happiness that comes with the release of death. Cry of sadness knowing that this is the way it all ends.
But all I can say is one thing.
It’s about time.
I wander through the graveyard that is the universe. The vestiges of a time long past. A time that hurts to remember. A flourishing universe.
Now, none of that is left, just the ruins of civilizations and the twinkling of dying stars.
I keep walking to help me pretend there is still a purpose to my existence, a reason that I am still here. It’s so hard not being able to die.
I stumble across a black hole. I haven’t seen one of those in thousands of years. I glance around to the universe surrounding me, nothing is left for me here. I would rather try my luck at the black hole then waiting for time to end out here in this cemetery of memories and regrets.
I walk closer to the black hole, allowing myself to get sucked in. The pressure doesn’t hurt, nothing physical hurts anymore.
I get taken through the black hole and appear on the ‘other side’. I glance around at my new surroundings, it reminds me of when the universe was younger, but this one is different, feels different. The black hole must have somehow brought me here. How? I don’t know, but at this point I don’t care. I meander through this new environment, marvelling at the new stars being formed, the planets that aren’t desolate and dead. Life continued on.
I rush around to the planets, desperately searching for signs of life, signs that my life will have purpose.
I finally land on the tallest mountain on a planet with red oceans and purple forests. I land on the pale blue snow that covers the tip of the mountain. It feels cold, but it’s a welcome feeling. I feel the subtle heat of both of this planet’s suns on my face, smiling knowing that not all planets are dead. I glance over the landscape around me: the oceans lapping up on the rocky quartz shores, the forests that have leaves of not just purple, but all of the colors of the rainbow, those colors rippling their way through the trees.
Next to me is a small flower. I kneel down next to it, carefully cupping the delicate petals in my hand. This flower is different than any I have ever seen, with each of its petals like a prism, refracting the light in many different ways in my hand. This flower is different, just like this baby universe. Nothing is going to be the way it was, but that’s okay. Time will march on, and so will I. I miss everyone I knew, everything I had, but I must keep going for those who are now, those who deserve time to be, to exist.
No matter how sad and horrible things may seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Always something better waiting for you at the end.
All the pain and nothingness I felt, all the worthlessness and self-pity, is washed away in the joy I feel in this moment. All that suffering was worth it to get to this moment.
I drop my journal in the snow and cry. I need to leave the past behind me and look towards the future, towards the bright, new universe in front of me. I don’t have to forget what happened, what I’ve been through, but I can’t let that dictate my life, my future.
The only thing I can say through the tears pouring like rain down my face is.
It’s about time.
Here We Go Again
Finding a circle of stones in woods isn't exactly new for me. Being a forest ranger, you see a lot of weird things. Usually the circles are made by teenagers trying to "summon the devil" and stuff.
But this. This is different.
These aren't small stones; these are ten-feet-tall, aligned in a perfect circle, and have ‘doorways’ on the north and south sides. There are 16 stones around the circle, each carved with an intricate pattern. Why? How should I know. I'm just an underpaid government employee.
I run my finger along the grooves, noticing that the cuts on all the rocks are completely smooth. No bumps or imperfections at all. No way drunk teenagers made this one.
But on the northern 'gateway', there is a hand-print indentation on the left stone. I'm a curious individual, and somewhat stupid, so I obviously put my hand on it, just to see if anything would happen.
With my (bad) luck, something did happen.
The air around was harshly sucked into the gateway, whooshing loudly past my ears. I stagger backwards to avoid being sucked into the small rift forming in the gateway. Through the rift, a glowing hand, almost made of light, desperately reaches out. I grab the hand (Have I mentioned I'm stupid?) and try to pull the being through. The rift widens and starts to shoot out purple-and-blue sparks as the creature finally escapes the rift. The portal closes behind it in a burst of air that throws me to the ground.
The being wasn't really made of light, that faded after the portal closed. In fact, they look like a human. I glance up at the being.
They look like me. Just. Like. Me.
My jaw dropped. This definitely isn’t a ‘normal’ stone circle.
"Damn, I'm too old for this shit," I mumbled to myself, still laying on the ground, with my back still hurting from my earlier fall.
I remember the being, "Hey, buddy," I try to break the silence, "Uh, how's it going?" Wow, not awkward at all.
The other me cocks his head, confused.
I scramble to stand, "I meant," I begin, "What's your name? And, uh, what's the portal for?"
The other me just smiles, the ends of his mouth turning up so high it looks almost painful. From those ends, the skin begins to tear, lengthen the smile to the eye-level. One of his hands reaches to grab his upper lip and pulls the skin over the top of his head like it was a hood. (Ew) From under the 'skin hood' emerges a dark and foreboding abomination, it's sparkling white teeth a sharp contrast from the dark void of its body. It steps out of the 'flesh molt', which falls unceremoniously with a squelch, and steps towards me with a grin much larger than the demented one it formerly had on ‘my’ face.
"Aw shit," I bemoaned, pulling my sword from the standard-forest-ranger scabbard and readying it for battle, "Here we go again."
Always Close the Toilet
Richard is such an interesting cat. She (Yes she) was named by my six-year-old cousin. (This is the same cousin who named a horse Pizza.) Richard was raised as an inside cat, which explains her perfectly maintained siamese coat, but she was a little too energetic to stay inside, so she was moved to the farm. She took to the outside like a fish to water. She'd chase and play with the chickens, go run around with the miniature horses, and sometimes get into fights with stray cats. With how well she does outside, you'd think that Richard would stay there forever.
But she doesn't. As much as she enjoys the freedom of the outside, she also loves water and attention. If you try and sleep she'll try many different things: walking on you to keep you awake, trying to climb under the covers, trying to pull off the covers (she's only gotten halfway), or just sleeping on you.
But that isn't half as weird as her obsession with water. If anyone leaves the bathroom door open, Richard rushes in and jumps to the sink or the toilet. If it's the sink, she'll turn the water on and either lay in it or splash it everywhere. If it's the toilet, she'll try and play with the water. The first time I saw her playing in the toilet I shouted in surprise. That was enough to cause Richard to tumble into the bowl of the toilet, thank goodness it was clean. Richard gave me a glare that I could only assume meant I hate you and jumped out of her watery prison. Her fur was drenched and matted, and her face almost looked disappointed. But I learned two important lessons: to never surprise my cat and to always close the toilet.
I miss you,
I truly loved our life together.
I grew up, I played,
And through it all, you stayed.
Always giving me a home.
But they didn't care,
Your safety, your health
They cared about themselves.
Still I told everyone else that you were special.
That we had to stop.
That we were hurting you.
That you deserved to be protected.
They didn't listen.
For years and years, they hurt you and hurt you.
But what could I have done to stop them?
I'm only one person, one voice,
In a endless stream of billions.
Then the news came,
That it was too late.
You were dying, they said.
There's no hope, they said.
We all have to leave, they said.
But I didn't want to.
They didn't care,
They never did.
I look back at you,
Through the glass of the ship,
My dismal confines,
Still yet to launch,
To humankind's new home,
Away from your warm embrace.
Our final time together.
Oh Earth, dear Earth!
My home, my life!
How I'll miss you!
But your only response was one tree waving in the wind.
The firey, horrible, smokey wind.
It seems like goodbye,
As the tree snaps and falls,
Like a quiet and concluding,
I miss you, too.