What the Past Holds

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

In a world where a person's ability is meant to determine their future career, Aria is given a different kind of power than the one they were expected to. Born with the ability to see the lives of objects' is all fun and games, until they come across a certain tree, that reminds them that one can never really be sure about what anyone - or even anything - has gone through.

 

Upon coming into this world, every person was assigned some sort of ability. Some people got them within the first years of their life, while others did later on - age wasn’t important.

 

Aria was not exempt from that. Ever since they were a little kid, they seemed to have some kind of connection with objects and things around them. It was an ability unlike any other, considering that, more often than not, the power each person had was to serve them in one way or another. Individuals who were able to easily identify criminals made great detectives. Other humans with different abilities, would follow whichever career path suited them the best. 

 

Aria’s power, however, had nothing to do with that. It was no indicator of their future job, or of a talent that would help them excel in something. What they were able to do was to see the past of things. Every time they touched something they would go back in time and watch, as if in a cinema, this object’s life, from the time it appeared on this planet, up until how it currently is.

 

This had been happening for practically all of their life. It was kind of funny to think about how their parents were puzzled when they first mentioned it to them, at the age of three. Now, at nineteen, everything makes more sense. This seemed to suit them - their rather curious nature would often have them ask questions about all sorts of things, after all.

 

Others would often point out that this wouldn’t help them anywhere, that they should hurry and find a job they are good at, to contribute to society in the same way everyone else did, but they didn’t pay any mind. Dedicating time to art and doing it for a living, combined with learning new things was more than enough for them.

 

They really liked their power - well, most of the time. There were times when it was...inconvenient, one could say. Times like this one. Aria was currently kneeling in front of a tree, hands covering their face. They were facing the ground, doing their very best to keep quiet, feeling their tears hitting their palms, their erratic breathing making their face feel abnormally warm. 

 

No one should see them, not in this state. Aria had no idea where that came from, considering that no matter the object’s backstory, they never really cried - they preferred to keep their emotions to themselves, letting the sadness settle in their chest in the form of a usually gentle melancholy.

 

The only thing they knew was that they touched this tree. The moment Aria's fingertips came in contact with the rough surface of the tree’s log, they closed their eyes for a few seconds, and then opened them again.There they were in the spectator's perspective, as they always were, being in the same place as before.

 

Except there was nothing there - not yet, anyway. In the tree’s place was a small sprout that was due to grow in a few years. Aria looked around; the place was fairly different. Before humans decided to intervene and turn it to a park, it seemed to be something akin to a small forest. Multiple kinds of plants were around - from flowers and bushes to trees, making the place ideal for relaxation, and perhaps a picnic under the shade.
 

Not many people seemed to be around, especially if one was to compare the amount of visitors that were currently there to the one after the park was built. Aria looked around; they could see people in small groups sitting on blankets under the trees, while others were walking around, possibly chatting. In the present, the park was often crowded. Whether sitting around the fountain in the very middle of the park, walking on the cobblestone pavements or sitting in the benches among the trees, there was no place one couldn’t spot a human.


Aria had no idea for how long they had been checking the place out, but it must have been for quite some time. When they looked at the sprout again, it had got a tad taller.

After that, the years passed by rather quickly. People would come and go, bringing an air of life to the place, before leaving it alone during the nights. The seasons would come and go, winter and autumn bringing cold and rains, watering the place, followed by spring and summer that gave the plants the chance to grow and prosper. 

 

The tree had grown, too.

 

That was until a war broke out. The people didn’t come here anymore. Soldiers using that place to lie in ambush were the closest thing to visitors. Most of the trees were either cut to be used, or burned from the bombs and grenades. The grass was replaced by light brown dirt and ashes.

The chatter and laughs also ceased. One could only hear the gunshots, sounds of explosions and screams of victims, bodies hitting the ground one after the other. 


The days were all the same. More and more people would die, attacks would happen and enemy soldiers would break into people’s houses. Aria found themselves sitting under the tree. It had got tall now, surpassing the height one would expect it to reach in such circumstances. Although it had broken branches and much less leaves than it used to, the tree’s thick log was still there. Perhaps a bit withering, but there nonetheless.

 

Aria leaned back on it. They had no idea for how long they had been there, but they were tired. Tired of seeing people getting killed, most likely for someone else’s gain. They could not change the past, however, that much they were aware of. They sighed. Sometimes they wished they weren’t this curious and stayed in their lane for once.  

“Over here!”

A voice caught their attention. They peeked out from behind the tree, only to see two soldiers running towards him. Even though Aria knew that no one could see them, they couldn’t help but get up and step aside for the two men to sit down, opting to sit on the opposing side.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

 

After that, a conversation between them ensued. Just from listening to them, Aria learned a thing or two about them; they first met in the army, when they were first recruited. While off duty, they would often talk, mainly during the nights that felt never-ending, when neither of them could sleep, and they were wondering if they would live to see another day. That’s how they came to truly care about each other and a friendship blossomed.

“When this war is over, you should probably drop by my town to visit.”

“I really want to. You’ve told me so much about it and it sounds like a truly beautiful place.”

“Promise?"


"Promise."
 

They heard a rustle. Both men’s attention turned to a bush some meters away from them. On instinct, one of them grabbed the shotgun sitting next to him and got up, motioning to the other to stay still as he began to slowly approach the source of the noise. He didn’t get to go too close, however, as he was soon shot on the stomach, falling on the ground with a thud.

Before the person behind the bush could fire again, the other soldier shot up, and blindly fired at them. One, two, three, four...Once he was certain they were either dead or gone, he ran to his friend.

The other was curled up on the ground, arms tightly around his stomach, breathing heavy. “Fuck,” he whispered, bending down and pulling the other in his arms, lifting him off the small puddle of blood that was starting to form on the ground. 

 

“Hold on just a little longer,” he said to the other, “the camp is not far from here.”

“I…” the man in his arms coughed, his fist holding tighter at his friend’s clothes. “I don’t think I can hold on for much longer.”

“Just a bit more,” he said, “please.”

The injured soldier said nothing. Instead he coughed one more time and took his final breath. 

The feeling of the other’s fist letting go of his shirt made the man stop in his tracks. “Oh my God,” he muttered and went back under the tree. He placed him on the ground, then proceeded to check if he was alive. 

But nothing. There was no breathing, a heartbeat, or any other signs of life. He was gone.

The man was currently kneeling down, holding his friend’s dead body in his arms. “You promised,” he murmured, voice wavering. He didn’t seem to be able to holding back any longer and ended up holding him a bit tighter, allowing silent tears tears fall on the ground.

Aria looked away. This was unfair. It was so unfair how many people lost their lives on

daily basis, just so others can get richer and more powerful. It was a painful sight to say the least. An invisible weight had appeared on their chest, and they didn’t even know this person. They could not imagine how his family or friends would feel. They sighed, and put their palms over their face. They didn’t want to see that anymore.

While Aria couldn’t see, they could still listen to their surroundings. Eventually, the remaining soldier went to ask for help and, some time later, they heard heavy boots stomping on the ground, accompanied by more voices that they assumed belonged to other soldiers. A conversation followed, and the remaining soldier, as well as the dead body were taken back to the camp.

When they uncovered their face, the men were gone. Not only were they gone, but it looked 
like the war was over. They couldn’t hear guns and canons anymore. Grass started to appear under their feet once again, and the remaining trees had started to bloom. The tree was recovering as well. Small branches were peeking out of it again, and its log had slowly begun returning to its previous state. A pretty light blue colour replaced the sky’s previously orange one. Nature was healing.

People started going out again and the place came back to life.

Times changed. The people changed too. New politicians were now in charge of the country’s leadership, politicians with good ethics and the vision to make the world better. And they tried their best to achieve that. As the years passed, Aria noticed the changes happening around them. Benches, tables and stone paths were added. A fountain in the middle of the place, too. The ‘little forest’ they first saw now turned to a park. A place protected by the law, to ensure that no one would damage it, especially taking the history it had into consideration.

Soon enough, the place became more and more familiar to Aria, before eventually becoming an exact replica of that very park as they knew it. The story seemed to be done; they were now at the present. After taking a breath, Aria placed their palm on the tree and came back to reality.

The first thing they felt upon opening their eyes were the wet trails on their cheeks, and the tears at the edges of their eyes. Before doing anything else they looked at their palms, before breaking down in tears and ultimately kneeling before the tree.
 

 

 

 


 


Submitted: November 16, 2021

© Copyright 2021 astromanced. All rights reserved.

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