I would like to say right away that the following story was written in 1991. Eric was still seven years to come. This is another father story, but this was not written by a father. At least he wasn't a father yet. I haven't read this story in a LONG time. While reading it over I had to resist the urge to "rewrite" it. Please forgive the run-on sentences and bad grammar. Also, this is the whole story, I didn't know how to break it up into segments.
One night, a short time ago, I had a dream. Almost a nightmare really. Horror so subtle, yet so obvious, I had to write it down.
I was walking. I don't know where, I wish I did, yet the land was so familiar. Where had I been that this place reminded me of? There was no way to tell. The land must have once been very beautiful though, but now it lay in infinite waste. For miles all that could be seen, to my burning eyes, was desolation.
In the distance I could see dry, black, singlets of smoke rising from scattered piles of rubble. From these small bonfires the smoke climbed toward a cloudless pale sky that was bleached by the brightly burning sun. Nothing living broke the horizon, no trees, no bushes, no signs of people, nothing. All that could be seen was the same continuous patch of dusty tan earth that was freckled by the scattered bonfires.
The dry air was thin and hard to breath. I could feel my throat dry as the air passed through it. Every breath increased the volume of my throats screams for water, water that did not exist anymore.
The soil below my feet, dehydrated far more than my throat, was all cracked and crusty and every step created small puffs of dust. It seemed to be screaming in tune with my parched throat for life giving moisture that would never return.
As I walked I kept asking myself, “What could have caused this planet to be dying like this? What had this planet been sacrificed for?”
I walked for miles upon miles. The only thing that kept me going was the need to find something, anything like a person or an animal or some sign of life. With every searching step my frustration grew because no sign of life would appear. I searched every tumble of stones every pile of rubble, all For nothing. It appeared that the only living thing was me.
I continued my search For life as I walked on and noticed the ever slow approach of the distant mountains, or what once were mountains. "My God, what could have caused such destruction on things as mighty as mountains." I whispered to myself, hoping to summon up an answer.
I walked on feeling as if this world were mourning, not For itself but for those who had inhabited her. I felt as if this planet was a mother of some kind and that her children had destroyed each other. The tears Forced themselves onto my cheeks as I walked on and on, keeping my gaze on the rubbled mountains that once knew more glorious days. I mourned for this planet, for this mother.
Finally, near exhaustion, I stopped and bowed my head letting the tears Fall to the ground. Now, as when I walked, my mind was haunted by the realization that all along my path not one sign of life did I see, not a single plant, not the sounds of people or animals, not even the sound of wind. The air was too thin to carry wind. My tears fell to the ground and were instantly dried by the scorching sun. It was almost as if the sun were denying the arid soil of any sort of moisture. I collapsed to my knees, ignoring the pain of the terrible sunburn all over my arms and face, and screamed "Why?" over and over again until my voice was hoarse. This poor planet was dying and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. I realized all I could do was sit and watch the pitiful demise of this once wonderful place.
"Could this fate have been prevented?" I wondered as I imagined what this place must have been like long before the vast destruction wasted the planet. I began to think of my own planet, a green planet that I knew could never die such as this one is. A planet where I knew my children and my children's children would live on in peace. They'll live with harmony and respect for the environment, totally unlike the inhabitants of this planet. The leaders of my world would never let our children down by abusing our natural resources or inadvertently destroy us with a war. I believed this of the people of my planet wholeheartedly, or I at least hoped.
I wondered again, "Could this have been prevented?" Of course this could have been prevented, but why would the foolish inhabitants of this planet let such a fate happen to there home. Why would they so foolishly bring such death to their mother.
I sat for long hours, feeling the air thin as I breathed it, thinking of my six year old son, Joseph, and how fortunate he and his generation would be to never see this type of desolation. He would live a long happy life on Earth playing in the parks among the trees with his friends without a care in the world. His world will be full of peace and love and lack the hate and war of my fathers world. I knew I'd be there too, playing with him, teaching him. I knew that being on this planet had to be a dream and that I'd soon wake from it.
I sat, waiting to wake up and, looking around me through tear hazed eyes when I noticed something on the horizon. Something small and dark. I rose to my feet and started for the distant object. The walk was short but tedious as I labored for breath. I don't know why I had to take a closer look at something that was probably a burnt out stump, but I was drawn to it by hope. As I got closer it appeared to be a small, tatteredly dressed, boy around seven years old. I was delighted to finally Find life and my step picked up along with my hope for answers. As I rapidly approached the small boy I noticed his impossibly sunburned skin, skin that mine was slowly starting to resemble. The tears cleared From my eyes and I saw that he appeared to be praying over a cairn that he had probably built with his own hands. I approached him from behind and surprisingly, in the dreadful silence, I did not disturb his prayers. He was praying for God to take his Father into his arms and to keep him safe from harm and the cruelties of this world. With a moment of silence he finished his beautifully simple childish prayers, and looked up at his fathers grave, and asked why something couldn't have been done to save his home. He dropped his head and started to cry .
I suddenly realized what this brave little boy must have gone through. He's the last of his planet, and If he was important before the destruction he is even more important now. I admired his strength and courage. My tears joined his. I stepped around next to him and squatted down to comfort him. I reached out with my left hand and touched his trembling shoulder expecting a startled response but he only went on weeping. He kept his head bowed as he whispered "Why am I the only one left? I'm still only little, I can't save my world... It's too late." With my right hand I gently lifted his chin to look into his face and say something, but what? His head followed my hand's guidance and turned to face me. Our eyes met, and when my heart started to beat again after a shocked pause, I realized that the dirty, tear streaked, red face I gazed upon, was my son's.
When I awoke in the morning, the dream still very vivid, I rose out of bed, where my wife still slept soundly, and walked to Joseph's room. I quietly entered his room where he was sleeping so peacefully, like it seems only children can do. I dare not make a noise that might wake him. I crept toward his bed in the hazy early morning glow that filtered through his curtained window. Reaching his bed I paused for a moment to take in his innocent beauty. I then bent down and, with the talent a parent acquires in the role of tooth fairy, lifted the still sleeping boy into my arms. Holding him close, as a single tear fell from my cheek onto his, I whispered into his ear, "It's not too late, Joey, it's not to late."
I stood there holding my slumbering boy until the sun rose completely and bathed us both, father and son, in it's peaceful early morning light.