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  • Alan Allinger

Unseen Lives Within the Wreckage


Unseen Lives Within Our Wreckage


Mother and I are by and large city people, but morning found us on a small country lane because we do go everywhere, if invited. It had been a busy night; now we were on our way back to meet friends for breakfast when enough light dawned to allow us to see our surroundings. This stretch of road was pretty enough, but it was the crumbling ruin that caused Mother to pull over. We got out of the car so we could have an eye-opener and survey the damage.


“A story is in that pile of wreckage,” said Mother happily. “I’ve a mind to make it speak and have it tell us what came before the fall.”


“Not fire,” I said after a quick inhalation. Even after many years I would have been able to taste it if there had been a burning. I busied myself with the thermos and our mugs. Mother looked then at the sky, where the sun was performing a very flirtatious and colorful dance for her.


“You know how much I love watching Helios come and go,” said my mother in absent admiration. I nodded, for this went without saying. I’ve thought about it. If my father had stuck around, he and Helios might have eventually come to blows. Or Helios might in fact be my father, I’m not sure- it isn’t something a gentleman of my generation asks of one’s mother. Mom isn’t fickle, but she’s distractable by flavors of the day. As things worked out, I had grown up with the titan as a sort of favored uncle who visited with mom at times in an on-again off-again way.


“Of course, I do,” I said, pouring carefully and handing her a silver cup.Today’s cocktail was The Massey, which has a number of flavors since it combines Irish whiskey with gin and some citrus and a couple of other things- and voila, your taste buds are suddenly awakened by a vivacious experience. “I’ve always admired the way he throws around the colors.”


“As have I,” my mother nodded, swirling her metal goblet so that the ice cubes within made small sounds that did not quite turn into a ringing- more of a treble clunk. She dipped a finger in the liquid and flicked it towards the fallen structure, speaking a single word. The air thrummed softly, like bees in a hive. “Tell us what happened,” she said to the ruin.


“I was strong and handsome until time overtook my creator, Madame, and then I was not,” said the pile of decay in a broken, deep voice that I felt in my sternum. “Look at me, destroyed by neglect, see the forest returning to life nearby, and now”, there was a slight hesitation and the voice softened, “the new dawn brings us rays of brilliance and hope that awaken whatever is left of even my rotted core. Please help me, Madam.”

My mother nodded, satisfied, and with a gesture turned the pile to dust so that it could sink into and enhance the soil. Some vestiges of it would rise in the green life that would shoot up towards the vibrant palette of colors that Helios was using to paint the sky. We stayed a few moments more watching the pale dust drinking in the sun’s colors… and we offered up a toast to that which had kept its faith all these years.

We both donned sunglasses to protect reddened eyes as we regained the road, leaving the departed behind us, and headed off to rejoin the living.

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