People like to make grand metaphors about life. Some say life is like a box of chocolates. Others claim it's like a mixtape. Yet still more people claim that life is like a hurricane, a game of chess, a boat.
And they're all wrong, she thinks as she clutches at nothing at all, her umbrella long gone.
The world is a flickering haze of red, white, blue. Rain bears down on her, falling so heavily she can't see anything but the faint shadows of collateral damage. Everything drowns into a dull roar in the loud, loud wind. The memory of the scream that pierced the air surfaces in her mind, and she thinks, not loud enough. She wishes to turn away from all this wreckage, she wishes to be anywhere but here. She wishes the last ten minutes had never happened. She wishes she had died.
She wishes for many things, but none of them come true.
The figure of a man emerges from the haze, silhouetted against the scene. The numbness, the lights—it all feels like she's trapped behind impenetrable glass, witness to a terrible dream. She blinks slowly. The man had turned, heading towards the back of an ambulance. From this point of view, it's evident that he's toting a stretcher. There's some shouting she can't make out, but the sack of pure inky black slumped atop its surface is unmistakable.
The figures come closer. The shouting gets louder. The body bag is rumpled.
She watches as the stretcher gets loaded into the ambulance by a grim-faced man mere feet away from her. Its doors swing shut with a decisive click.
Like clockwork, they come running. The hopeless, the hysterical, and the hateful. They pound on the ambulance doors and throw the entireties of their beings against it until its agitated driver emerges.
At this distance, the rain no longer serves as a veil. The colors are still distant, far away but present, but now, tangible, immediate tragedy awaits directly behind the ambulance doors. In an instant, her world becomes a riot of sensation and emotion where an emptiness had existed before.
—ice. The world is awash—
—desperation and grief. And it's—
"I'm the father!"
Hands of death. Hands of glory.
Fingernails bite into fleshy palm, searing angry red creases. But it's not enough to forget the sensation of a wooden pole getting ripped out her grip by a strong gust of wind. She remembers how it flew far, farther than she could see in the pouring rain and determinedly toward the street.
She will never forget the catastrophe:
A flash of light. A terrified, high-pitched scream. A surge in the wind, as if the world itself was gasping.
In a world of souls, nothing is real but dust in our veins and fragility that will end us all.