Dirty Little Flowers

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Chapter 12

Change can be gradual or it can come on suddenly, like a crumbling cathedral or a falling glass. New forms can emerge, they must, but only from wreckage. The more you do it, divining the future becomes a depressing exercise in looking for what will be, or can be, destroyed, and how the world will collapse around the void. Futurism, even at its most sickeningly optimistic, is a macabre exploration of our existence, bloodied and broken.

Afterward, Jared couldn’t remember where he was when it happened; he was waiting in line at the local market. The shock blew his mind clear of details, leaving a bizarrely spare and single minded stream of memories in their place. He stumbled out of there in a fog, his groceries forgotten in the basket behind him.

But first, Cecilia was hit by a bus.

It’s a cliché because it’s a real hazard of modern life. Like lightening bolts hurled from Mount Olympus, a bus can strike the strongest, or weakest, among us dead at any moment. The bus doesn’t care about social status or nice clothes, success or moral fiber. A moment’s lapse in attention is all the bus needs to make its move.

None of that mattered to Jared. Any theological transportation contemplation was pushed aside by the gravity and severity of the raw experience. Cecilia’s ever present heartbeat was there, normal, like his own. Then, suddenly, it changed. It beat harder, irregularly a few times, Jared dropped what he was holding and clutched at his shirt. His mind reeled and he turned numbly away. Then, with an even more terrible suddenness, Jared realized that he couldn’t feel Cecilia’s heart beating at all any more.

Jared was in no condition to recall anything about the rest of the afternoon, he didn’t regain his senses until he was home, alone, hours later. Another customer noticed him, though, remarked to herself that he looked like a ghost, his face pale and distant, his eyes listless and glassy as he drifted silently out the door.

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