Flames Arising 

By: Mackenzie Hebner 

Flames had been arising. The colors of the sun tainted into scorched humanity. We should have seen it coming, but curled up in our beds, books to our noses, glasses to our eyes, cocoa in our hands, and covers on our frail bodies, we didn’t see the world outside our window. We didn’t see the comforts we knew were slipping away. But just because we didn’t see, doesn’t mean it wasn’t meant to be, for it was, and it did. 

Flames had been arising for years. Each cycle of days bringing about new destruction. But they were so optimistic it was never destruction to them, it was a chance for change and new windows of opportunity. How were they to know this was to the be the last cycle of days that could remain a possibility for instilled hope? How were they to know the cycles would stop and destruction would reign supreme? How were they to have known? It’s not as if they had been told. After all, they only wanted hope. They only wanted optimism. They only wanted to be at peace with change. 

So perhaps deep down they knew and they chose not to move, but isn’t that exactly what destiny does? Therein lies the age old question. What is fate? Are there limits to its power? What is free will? Is it fact or fancy? The questions will always arise, but nonetheless, the posing of questions did not halt the poaching of what we knew. Things are different now, and by things, I propose it as an all inclusive term from all things living and breathing to those simply lifelessly resting. 

I wish I could say it was beautiful, I suppose if you’re into the whole black and white color scheme vibe then it may be breathtaking for you. A world of charred earth. They’ve attempted to play it off cleverly enough in reports to calm those already weak of heart. Headlines such as “Fresh Start Sweeps Across the Planet” and “What Once Came From Nothing Will Do It Again” try desperately to lift morale. After all, humanity’s survival relies on such factors, so environmentally dependent. They used to tell us that ten minutes of sun a day would boost your mood, that sun was the answer. But, nowadays people aren’t so excited to take advantage of their once precious sun. And do I blame them? No, because though it’s warmth and light may seem comforting, its uncharted wrath has been far too forthcoming. 

Now, enough with the pessimism haunting us all. Allow me to give you a lay of the land. As I said before, everything is different. For example, there is no such thing as countries anymore. Division dissolved the moment every flammable object from Canada to Japan was singed out of existence. And as humanity does, we made the best of things. Across the Atlantic there now lies a bridge, literally bridging the gap between what used to be separate continents, now one hurting world. There is also a bridge arching over the monstrous width of the Pacific: connecting. Every gap bridged, as the arising flames that burned our bridges only had the power to do so literally, but their metaphorical reach lacked potency. For they did not account for the truth that when everyone is floored by the same pain, there is no longer room for misunderstandings or rivalries or divides. There are no longer differences; pain is the great connector. 

Many lives were lost in the fires. Over 35% of the world’s population scorched into oblivion, leaving just over five billion still intact, mostly. With barriers seemingly pointless now, the world flocked together, exchanging any and all survived supplies. Now, there is one district, or very large city, if you will, housing the five billion remaining souls. Within our modest city structure, we have gathered everything left and assembled the tragic amount of materials into seven storage facilities. 

  1. Non perishable food and drinks
  2. Cold items 
  3. First Aid and medical materials
  4. Craft supplies 
  5. Clothing 
  6. Hygiene 
  7. Toys for the kids 

My favorite of these is the craft’s building. It sounds juvenile perhaps, for a thirty year old woman to be so enticed by crafts when there are much more essential things to drool over. But you see I have two valid reasons for my fascination. One, it’s no secret that art is another one of the great connectors. Some of our more creative souls found ways to recreate a substance similar to paint and since then murals have been popping up to and fro. But, there is more. You see, in that storage building there is a safe, and in that fire proof safe lie the most important documents I believe ever drawn up by mankind: the translations of every language spoken among the five billion of us, from the most known such as Spanish and English and Mandarin to tribal languages now only spoken by the two or three surviving speakers. Each paper holds the key to each language, words and symbols and explanatory drawings decorating the surface of paper assembled thanks to the in-depth history classes of ole that once taught us of the ancestors who came from nothing, as we now must do the same. 

It’s shocking really, a better word I couldn’t derive to explain the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. A global natural disaster, a global destruction, a global horror, brought forth a global home, a global connection, a global humanity. I’ll admit, it does not make the charred ground adorning every shred of surviving earth suddenly more radiant, it doesn’t make the sun’s ever encroaching heat suddenly return to soothing, it doesn’t solve the hurt or the destruction or the nightmare of what has become of our beautiful planet, but it does present a silver lining, and if history serves to teach us anything, it is that even in the most treacherous, devastating, or oppressive circumstances, all people needed was a sliver of even slightly possible hope or the realization of a silver lining to endure it all. So no, I don’t look out across the newly flattened horizon line each morning and sigh in relief at the community it has brought me, but I do wake up and look out over the crowds of people around me and am filled with an equally strong sense of both sadness at their and my loss, and appreciation that for the first time since the beginning, we are one people, one book of individual short stories, and one state of humanity. 

The world burned. The flames arose. Perhaps one day the flames will arise again. But in the beginning humanity began, after adversity humanity began again, through this destruction we will start over, and if the flames arise again, then too we will rebuild. 

September 25, 2020 23:09

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