“Why did Granna die?  I didn’t want her to die.”

“Well, she was 94-years-old and that is a long time to live and so she just died.”

“Will you and Daddy die?”

“Yes…but not for a long time.”

The boy was without expression and asked, “Will I die Mommy?”

“No.  You will live forever.”

“What is forever?”

“It’s like a beautiful flower that you plant in the sun and then water every day and sing to it and slowly it grows higher and higher into the sky and then one day it is so high you think that it will go on forever and reach the sun.”

“Am I like a flower Mommy?”

“Yes.  You are Mommy’s flower.”

There is an infinite line.  Well it seems infinite, but everything must end.  Even arrow shaped lines.  He crossed the line.

His mind silently asked questions.  Where is my passport?  I need my passport to leave the planet.  I need my visa too.  Where are they?  Should I wake her?  The hotel room was filled with flames and he walked over to the desk and opened the drawer and there was his passport and visa.  He took them out and slipped them inside his pocket.  The front of the hotel was on fire and the smoke was rising.  With luck he could catch a helicopter and be at the rocket pad in a few hours.  He was home safe, he thought, and then he smeared gel on his face and walked down to the lobby to pay his bill.

He left her there on the burning bed.  She was dreaming about a remembrance of joy.  Everything was forever, but it was also fleeting like the cadence and stroke of neon through the air and she could feel it pulling her along with oars in the water.  On the shore were people at a restaurant overlooking the river.  They were smiling in the afternoon, talking leisurely.  Some of them were sitting on the slope of the bank.  The men had taken off their jackets and the women had on well-crafted hats.  She wanted to wave, but her arms were heavy and asleep and so the happy people remained untouched by her and they all seemed content, trapped in their painterly gaze.

The fire raged in the room.

As he fell, he was those things and more. His whole life had been the attempt to gather all of that inside…everything that was possible given the limits of his outline, but at that precise moment, irony came crashing down and he  couldn’t see much of anything, only the light and color of the houses around him.  Shadows were up ahead and the last thing he could really make out was a wedding reception through a doorway.  Sounds of the traffic filtered down from the mountain road.  An image flashed through his mind.  It was of the bodies floating face down in the brown Sobat water waiting for the fish to eat them.  The bottom of the river was a garden and the fish were the caretakers.  This was his final three seconds and the sun reflected off his face.

“Will I die Mommy?”

“No you will live forever,” and then his head hit a rock in the road, but it didn’t matter and the cars continued to pass him for a few more minutes until a little girl in the backseat of a taxi yelled and the driver stopped.  A crowd gathered and a flower seller came over and placed a sunflower at his feet.  The sky began to burn and the people knew within a few days the flames would cover the town and all business, all crime, and all affairs of the heart would be done either in the flames or in hot air balloons floating high above the sad people twisting upon the ground.




7 thoughts on “Forever

  1. Less than a cheerful picture but at least it ends well. Duke, do you remember taking creative writing at TAMU ? I wrote a piece for the class that summed up that era . . . basically our band of friends were all shuffling along in a long line that led around the block, down several streets, winding past businesses and storefronts, on and on, and as time went on we were quick to discover and fast to deny that everyone was getting older and older. There were those around us that got angry, and left the line cursing the wait calling it bullshit. By the time we finally reached the ticket counter we were ancient fossils just looking for a darn place to lie down. We paid for a ticket and it had one of two words. Take a right or take a left. The Prof gave me a B.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never actually took the course. I would go with you and asked to audit. I went a few times. I wanted to hear Harlen Ellison and he ended up telling us about how his wife was taking him to the cleaners and his only defense was getting drunk. He was an inspiration no doubt. “The minute people fall in love, they become liars.” That has always stuck with me. That one and “Which way to the rats?” Also pretty good. Thanks. Duke


  2. A story, a dream, a vision and the child in all of us just drifting down the Styx. Sometimes it works to just go where the words and images sweep you. And this works. To your story about Ellison – Tillie Olsen came to my commencement drunker than a skunk and complained about menopause.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I keep going back to a book by Josephine Herbst and then you write this about Tillie Olsen and it turns out they were contemporaries, working on the same issues that confronted women, the country, and the world. Coincidence, but it is what makes life worthwhile. Yet, we have drifted so far from the humanism and fairness they represented. In the specific, progress, but on the whole, a vast degradation of nature…the only thing worth a shit…the wind, the rain, a thought, the absence of ambient light. Duke

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed it Duke…another good tale .You are on top of it…we are born , live and die…and even arrow shaped lines . Fossil on my friend , I’m right beside you .

    Liked by 1 person

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