Title: At the End
Author: arcady
Summary: Recollections on a past life.
Words: 407
Contact: arcady0 AT yahoo DOT com
Copyright: July 2004

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As far as I can remember, the ending went something like
this. I was wandering around, somewhat aimlessly among the
little hills on the edge of things. The houses were mostly
on fire - I think they were made of straw, at least the
roofs. That or wood. There had to be bodies everywhere, but
I couldn't see them, I could barely see anybody. I needed to
find my mommy, or at least somebody I knew.

 There were people around me though, of a sort -
wandering aimlessly, shell-shocked. I could hear, if not
see, them. I could hear crying. I could hear the sounds of
soldiers - a yell, a gunshot, or maybe just a confused call.
Maybe I just thought they were soldiers, I can't figure out
now just why they would have been there. But they didn't
seem to have any better answer for what had happened than
the rest of us. I had to find mommy, daddy was gone.

 I'm not sure how exactly I knew that, or even if I knew
it at the time, or if it's only occurred to me now writing
this down a lifetime away. I think he went off to fight in
the war. It must have occurred to me that mommy was gone as
well, and I had a feeling I'd be going soon too.

 The pain was unbearable after all - from the burns.
That's what happens if you live after something like this
you know. If it doesn't kill you now, it'll get you soon
enough anyway. I was a mess, bloody, burned, my dress torn,
my hair in tatters, and my feet bare. I couldn't find anyone
- just empty Asian eyes passing between buildings or around
hills without purpose.

 When we remember past lives, most of us focus on the
glory, we want to be heroes after all. We know that to have
a beginning, you first need an ending; but we try not to
dwell on it. I don't have any such luxury, I never forgot.
My first memory in this life, the thing I've always known,
is how it ended last time. This time around when I was maybe
six or so my brother told me about it - the atom bomb. I
told him I already knew - though I'd never had a name for it
before.

 I'd been there, on the edges, where it didn't end so
fast.