The snow is falling, that's right it is falling. I look up and shudder ever so slightly. The snow though will not stop for me, why? Because it is nature, what else could it be? Nature is selfish.
I look around at the barren village clutching my bag tightly, my body is shivering. If I don't find warmth soon I will reach hypothermia. The jacket I help can no longer keep me warm in this server cold.
I kept walking either way no direction just north, my shoes crunching under snow, my feet are numb. I would not be surprised if I could easily pluck off my frozen toes.
I finally cannot feel my body. The snow looks at me now like a warm blanket to wrap me up. I fall to my knees. My body will not make it more in this frozen barren wasteland. That now cold snow, became warm an inviting. It was a white blanket to wrap me up, so I can fall in ever blissful sleep.
I drop my bag and plop onto the snow. I remained there, my weak lips turn into an upwards smile. The cold blanket, warmed me at the same time. I could rest here forever.
"Hey!" A voice shouted. "Look it's another and he seems in bad shape!" A voice shouted, a girl? Was it a girl? I wonder, slowly I force my eyes open. I see a girl my age running over to me, her face frantic.
"Don't go near him!" Another voice shouted
"Father I don't care what you say, he is coming with us!" She shouted to him, looking back at him. Her eyes were a bright greyish hue. I suddenly see how truly pale she is. Her skin is so white; it makes the snow look dirty. Her silver hair blew into the moonlight. How stunning she was indeed
She is running to me, I suddenly see shadows of people appearing around us. Her face is closer, but I feel myself drift off once again.
Did I tell you it was the day before Christmas? My father was going to buy me something I always wanted. I wonder what it was before, before. All of this happened.
Now I am alone and barren he is dead somewhere in a giant corpse of leftover radiation.
"Father! Father! He is waking up! Father!" That beautiful voice called out. I felt warm down to my toes. I shifted around opening my eyes and with blurry vision I saw I was in a room of some kind made with rock for walls. The area was lined up with these wires and lights that lit up the small room. I shifted sitting upright realizing I was bundled into a sleeping bag of some kind and was stripped of my coat.
In fact I was stripped of all of my clothes! I realized staring down at my naked self.
"See father!" A heard her voice. I instinctively hide back into the sleeping bag when that small girl steps in and a large looming man behind her. My eyes almost pop out of their skull. He was enormous built like a moose! His bulky arms crossed over his blurry chest. The clothes he wore strained under his muscling frame.
"Sorry about the clothes." The girl turned to me smiling, eyes shining with joy. "They were pretty ragged anyways."
"That's fine," I stay under the sleeping bag not staring directly at her.
"I have a change of clothes in my bag-"
"We burned that." The moose said suddenly cutting me off, I jerked my head over to look at him. He shrugged. "Sorry we can't be too sure what you had in there had to take precaution."
I felt myself boiling with anger. "Why did you do that!? That was all had left!" I shouted, sitting upright in the bag. My outburst caused the girl to jump back a bit and the man narrowed his eyes at me. I watched them harden even more. I suddenly regretted everything I just said.
"Ithaca sweetie, go to the main quarters and go see Mariam. I'm going to have a talk with Junior over here."
The girl looked like she was going to protest, but after one sharp look. She stopped herself and scuttled off. I looked at him as the guy walked over to me, I felt myself shrink as her reached down grabbing me by the throat and picking me up with one large meaty hand.
I gasped and felt my smaller hands grip his large forearm. Legs kicking.
"Look!" He barked. "I'll be blunt; I want to throw your tiny white naked ass, back out there. You are just another mouth to feed at the moment." He dropped me back onto the floor; I felt my back slamming hard onto the stone floor. "But," He went on walking over to me as he dropping something onto to me, clothes. "I'm not like those cult freaks, and my daughter has taken a liking to you." I sit up clutching the clothes as the man ran his large beefy fingers through his dark hair. I could see on his grayish skin, the wild mam of a dark beard he had.
"Get dressed, I'll prop you for chores, but for now go to Ithaca someone like her age has never been found before. I think she is happy about that." And without another word he turned away and stalked off through the caverns.
I stared down at the extra baggy clothes. They looked to belong to someone bigger and taller, but I wouldn't complain. I scurried up throwing on the clothes and saw the giant black boots waiting next to the entrance of the tunnel and put them on.
Walking through the light tunnels I finally stepped into a larger cavern, the area was flooded with people sitting by makeshift fires and huddling for warmth. Others where carrying things over their shoulder, bags of stuff. Probably food and such, one guy heaved with another holding up some wooden statue of some kind. The statue looked back with a huge grin one frozen hand up like it was waving. It's paint chipping away from the years.
"Oh good! You are alright." I turn and see the pretty girl taking in a sigh of relief. "I was worried father was going to kick you out."
"Uh no he just gave me these." I grabbed at the pants tucked into the large boots yanking them to show the bagginess to them. "They are a little big, but I am grateful." I turn and see one man with a lazy eye stare back at me with it, it moved opposite of his other eye as he looked around, pretending he wasn't staring at me.
One man had a nub for where his left arm should be stood up and walked over to an older woman with a small frame. She was struggling with a large pot that looked like stew.
"These people were rejected by their peers for who they are and what they are. Human…." I hear Ithaca's voice. I look over to see her staring at them a small sad smile on her lips, turning to look at me her bright grey eyes shining. "Like us."
I swallowed hard, my throat feeling suddenly very dry and rough. I felt my eyes burning as a blink a few times. Could I really be like these people?
"Come on, follow me." She took my hand giggling. I felt like a ghost following her.
I suddenly flash back to my own Father sitting in our small apartment, my mother was there standing strong and proud. My father sat meek and humble. How different they were I could see that even from the eyes of a three year old.
I waddle over on my legs and tug on my mom's pretty white and grey black dress that was my favorite design. She looked down at me and smiled. She picked me up in her strong arms, while my father's meek eyes looked at us.
I don't remember much of the early morning, as my mind from there was fuzzy. But for some odd reason that scene was crystal clear, other than that other night a long time ago.
I felt a tug on my sleeve looking up I realized we were outside. The dark night sky was clear as day and the sliver moon shined bright shooting out beams of white. So did the millions of dead stars looking bright as always. The city was barren, it was old town that got the full blast of the bombs from the war.
Almost eight years ago. My eyes stare off into the distant barren landscape. I close my eyes and picture the bomb going off in my head, the giant puff of cloud that capped up into a mushroom shape, sending out a pulsating wave of radio-activeness and destruction. People scattering and screaming, a family huddles together with others, strangers. Before a hot white flash hits them and they are gone. And we are left with what?
Ithaca grabs my hand with her small cold one and smiles up at me. I notice she is wearing a white dress and only has an overcoat of some kind that looks like a wool blanket and oversized boots like my own. I see the grime on her face and dirt under her eyes. Though even in this broken frame I snap of her, she still has these ever bright grey eyes I have scene.
"Come on, there is something I want to show you." She tugs onto my hand and drags me over to the snow covered pathway of the barren street. As we walk I see a man digging out a snow bank and I halt myself. Ithaca turns back looking at me confused. I walk over not noticing the moose man looming over the snow bank as well.
Ithaca follows me from behind. The man looks up at the moose man and shakes his head slowly side to side.
I watch the man give one painful sigh. I look over the man's shoulder and see it is a boy not much younger than me. He has glazed over eyes and his lips value and face pale. He looked thin and his expression solid of stricken fear. The picture frozen fame of someone knowing they were going to die and not ready for it.
I closed my eyes tightly
I was seven or so years, playing with my toy truck, the Christmas tree alight with billons of pretty white lights that danced along the pine tree. The TV was on and New Report about the growing threats of some country hit my ear. My mother was resting on the couch rubbing her swollen belly. My father was watching the news with those humble eyes in a fever.
"Honey stops staring at the News you're going to give the baby and myself a heart attack." My mother scowled at him. He turned to her for once those humble eyes very grim and serious. A fake smile plastered on his face.
He shut off the TV walking to the kitchen of our much larger house. I roll onto my back and sigh loudly. "Mom! Santa knows I have been good this year right?" I asked in a childlike tone.
"Yes dear I think he knows very well." She said with a teasing smile on her lips.
I rolled on my belly and nodded my head. "I know he knows." I get up and walk to the Kitchen to see my father. He has the news on in there on a small radio as cut up the vegetables. Still listening as he chopped away.
"Father can I help?" I ask wishing to get as many good points I could get for Santa's good list.
"No, Ethan go back to the living room with your mother. Keep her company." He said flatly, walking over to the stove turning on the gas stove flame placing the water pot on it.
"Please?" I said shuffling over, I pick up the spatula and wave it in my hand. "I am useful dad I'm not a little kid." I frowned as he ignored me walking back over to the counter to chop what looked like carrots.
"Come on Dad look!" I get on my tip toes and reach with the spatula to stir the empty pot of water. "Mom lets me all the time-"the sound of clatter from the pot, as it smashed onto the ground the hot water spilling everywhere. My father turns his angry eyes onto me.
"God dam it Ethan!!" He yanked away the spatula fury in his eyes. "Look at what you did!?" I look away from his angry eyes to scared and ashamed. He yanked my arm tugging me to look back at him, eyes still ablaze in anger at me. "What do you have to say!?"
I feel a burning sensation in my eyes, as I try to fight back my tears. I start quivering my lower lip, choking a sob.
"Daniel!" My mother suddenly says shocked at his reaction. "What has gotten into you? He is just a boy and he is trying to help!" My mother gives him a disapproving stare. Pulling me into her arms, I start sobbing and shaking.
"He is a brat and doesn't know when to leave people alone!" He screamed, turning back to the spilled pot on the floor. "Look at this!" He waved his hand over the mess.
I suddenly went from sadness to rage. How dare he!? I was trying to help!
I ripped myself away from my mother running out through the halls out the front door of our house. My mother's shouting calls to me came to no aid as I ran down the street of our sidewalk towards the city.
I should have stayed; I should have gone home, instead of my parents getting into a car on that cold Christmas Eve to find me.
I should have stayed.
"Are you okay?" Ithaca asked me as we walked away from the scene, and sat down on one of the steps that once belonged to a house, its wooden skeleton was rotting away. I felt tears running down my face as I choked in sobs burying my head between my legs. I start sob uncontrollably.
She frowned and shifted next to me uncomfortable with my crying. "Stop it." She says suddenly.
"What?" I say lifting my head. She turned me and struck me hard across the face with her open palm. I stood there shocked holding my cheek as she stood up and screamed.
"Why are you crying!? It makes no sense stop it!? Why are you sad!? I'm trying to make you happy can't you see that!?!?" Suddenly her lower lip quivers as she runs away from me, tears leaving her beautiful eyes.
"You forget kid we are all affected by this; your tears are just like the rest of us." A hear a deep voice behind me it is the Moose man. He continues talking.
"All of us have had pain, lost something close been affected by death and war. Or been reject by communities for our body, mentally, being who we are. So has she, your tears are nothing right now they dried up ages ago in the waste like all of us." He jerked his chin, and I look up to see the many faces of broken people wandering around. One was mother, another father, a child. Some were maybe even leaders, doctors… I look back up at the moose man and see the dog tags around his neck, warriors even. All of them went through loss. All of them have been through pain. What made me so different from them? Nothing, I was being selfish, like I accused nature of being, but honestly it was just me all along.
I was in pain, but so was she, so are they. So is everyone, the past burned around us, but that doesn't mean we hold on to it. I got up and stumbled through the snow away from that man who was still burning his warrior eyes into the back of my skull. I was no different from the ones who died in the snow, am I really alive? If I can't even move on?
She was sitting there in the snow, hugging her knees. I walked up to her and she made no effort to move even when I sat down into the cold snow next to her.
"I had a mom and dad once, and an unborn baby sister. I was going to be a big brother." I went on to say, she didn't say anything, but I kept on talking. "One night I did something stupid, and now they are gone." I said pulling my knees close to me as I hugged them. "A government refugee took me in, but they started picking out children, elders and leaving in the outskirts, people who were genetically inferior or suffered illness." I look up letting the white snowflakes touch my cheeks.
"Like me…" I say staring at my gray hand and the black and white over lay of the area before me, biting my lip. "I felt alone and betrayed, I was ready to die." I suddenly took her hand clasping it tightly, she looked up at me shocked at stared into my eyes with her beautiful grey ones.
"But, but I can learn to grow up and look to future instead of the past." She looked at me tears in her eyes spilling over as she turns to look up at the night sky. I turn to look up across into the night sky, as a streak of the light shoots by as I close my eyes, thinking about the vast world rebuilding itself.
Yes the past will be there, but I need to push forward. Like everyone else is, I turn my eyes too look back at the beautiful girl full of life in this barren wasteland of snow.
Just like her.