The Cold Truth
(A Hopeless World)
You're a child, the days wash over you in an endless wave of delight. The sun is always shining, the birds always singing, and the stars are always there, watching over you in you sleep. Your parents love you more than anything, they put all your needs above their own and would do anything for you. Yours is a happy family, and it seems that nothing could go wrong in the world. The world… such a happy, loving, thriving place.
The seasons roll past in an endless blaze of color, every day's bliss, lasting forever. Then, it happens. You're watching the news with your parents, when a report on a school shooting comes on. There are children, lying motionless on strange metal things being rushed on board helicopters, covered in some kind of red liquid with strange masks on their faces. You're scared of these horrible images, and you ask your mother,
"Mommy, what's happening? Where are those kids going? Why aren't they moving…" Your mother looks down at you, silent for a moment, then says,
"The world isn't always full of love and happiness. There are people out there, awful people, whose hearts are full of hatred and malice. All they want to do is hurt people."
"But mommy," You cut in "What happened to them?"
"They just have to go away for right now." She says, not wanting to make you aware of the cold, hard truth of what the world is really like. She changes the subject to what you had made with your toys earlier that day, and you completely forget about those awful images.
You're a little older now, and your grandfather has been ill for quite awhile. Terminally ill. One day, you go to him, and sitting on his lap in his wheelchair, you ask,
"Grandpa, why don't you get up? Why don't you play with me anymore?" Your grandfather looks at you and takes a shallow, raspy breath with his iron lung, then says,
"Well, there are times for people to be on this earth, but then God calls for them and they come, falling into his loving arms."
"But grandpa, your still here, why can't you get up?" You say, hopping down and tugging at his arm.
"It's just not that simple." He says, "My time is coming soon, I'm too weak right now." He says with tears welling in his eyes. A month later, your mother comes gravely into the room where you're playing with your toy tractors on Christmas morning and says,
"Grandpa passed away last night. The funeral is in three days."
"Okay." You say, paying no mind and turning back to your tractors, not knowing what your mother meant when she said 'passed away.'
You sit in the funeral parlor now, fidgeting uncomfortably in your black suit.
"Why is grandpa just lying there?" You ask your father, tugging on his sleeve, "Why doesn't he just get up? I want to tell him about my new bicycle!"
"He's just sleeping," Your father says, his voice cracking, "You'll see him again soon."
The funeral is over now, the last strains of music are dying away and two men come and close the lid. Tears and panic well up inside you, and you blurt out,
"Why are they taking grandpa away?! They can't do that!" Your parents try to calm you down, but you keep yelling and crying as the coffin-bearers stride solemnly past, walking out of the funeral parlor and to the hearse as you still wail, "I want grandpa! What are they doing to him?!"
You are upset and unapproachable the next few days, having been explained to by your parents what 'death' meant.
The days roll on, turning into months, and the months turning into years. You're an adult now, and now it's your parents who are on their deathbed. After visiting them for a few hours, you walk out of the room and head to your car to drive back to your lonely apartment that was all you could afford after your wife divorced you. As you sit there, looking out over the snowy parking lot, you remember your grandfather being ill, which seemed like centuries ago.
"Terminally ill… Just like grandpa. If you think about it, everyone is terminally ill. All born to die, someday, somehow, and there's not anything anyone can do about it. The world itself is terminally ill, and it won't last much longer." You start your car and drive off, over the icy roads, a horrible coldness in the pit of your stomach. You have nothing to go home to, nothing to go back to. Your parents, who have been there all your life are about to just go away and you'll be an orphan, all on your own.
Suddenly, you see lights up ahead, coming rapidly closer and you hear the blare of a horn. A truck going the wrong way on the narrow mountain road. You swerve desperately, not thinking about the icy roads, and fly through the guardrail. You are suspended hundreds of feet in the air for what seemed like an eternity over the frozen river below, then you plummet down with surprising speed. The last thought that goes through your head is,
"The world is such a cold cruel place, why can't childhood last forever? Why can't everything be bright and happy?" Then, you slam into the rock below, being thrown forward. You hit your head on the steering wheel of the car, and you know no more.