We are in the winter of our lives. It is dark and dreary and spongy wet. The air is cold, almost freezing and the chill penetrates the skin, bores in a blanketed assault on the warm core. And we are inside the crusted walls of what was called home. You might imagine that outside is worse, and it is.
The spindly woods of trunk and branch and twig, craggy and derelict in the fading light, filter the alien winds that come from the empty fields, mud choked and rutted and encased in a dingy crust of frost. If there was sunlight forecast, it might burn off, but the fog that clings to twigs is not wet enough and we expect freezing rain in the afternoon.
The weather is coincidental to the bleak outlook for our town. Shipments of food are a memory and a steady diet of deer meat is taking its toll. Everyone is undernourished and weak. Hollow sunken eyes bear witness to failed desires and lank hair falls out in patches. The uneven sporadic static from the radio waves of fading volume reveal a mirrored wave of suffering that extends down the coast, across the plains and infects the entire planet.
A decade ago the elite decided what was best, and they dictated to the huddled masses. They had the power and the glory forever. But verbose and fanciful words strung along in eloquent speeches did little to stimulate the production of needful things, because you cannot dictate production when there is no incentive to produce when it is all stolen away and spent by others for the benefit of others. And staples evaporated like solvent on the skin. There was little and then less and less and then nothing for anyone. Death came among us as aspirinic relief, we awaited in envy without the energy to hasten the inevitable.
I waited to freeze to death. But in the depths of my soul, through and across my stupor, I sensed an inkling of warmth, a front of thaw. It was a mirage; I was sure, perhaps the harbinger of the relief of death. But I did raise my head from my crooked knees, back to blue ice wall and withered ass on hard wood floor. I lifted my nose in the air, like my remembered dog, and sifted through the scents of damp death and decay, and caught a whiff of clean.
My four companions in the bleak midwinter room remained statue still, knowing that a movement would only bring a renewed feeling of ice. But I came off the floor and went to the window and rubbed a circle into the pasty grime and rime crystals and put my eye to the glass.
To the east under the layer of low stratus underclouds was a band of blue and a hue of sunlight, a harbinger of hope, which, quite frankly, I refused to accept. I stood there with my Cyclops’s visions of a future in which I had no faith. There would be no salvation or miracles.
But I did crack the door and widen the gap and pull it full open. I faced the east and dared to watch the brightening of the morning.
And then this happened: The bad gave way, the dark was engulfed and consumed and gorged by the sun, and the barren hills of wooden sticks took on a tinge of blush as the sugar red and scarlet maples budded out and the birches came into forgotten shades of neon lime green like breaths of blossoms, and the earth filled out and closed in, buds to little leaves to riots of long forgotten shades of green brought lush and vibrant in the aching sunshine. The noises returned and song birds bounced on limbs and heralded a new beginning. The gentle renewal swept before my eyes, lush and full and hot bursting with rejuvenation.
The evening came and it remained warm and the peeper fogs serenaded my ear drums and I was not worried about the return of winter’s death. We had turned the corner and left the disastrous experiment behind and now we could be true to our own natures again and remake mankind as kind man without the pretentious progressive falsehoods of the slipshod elites.
And I could see into the future. The collective know-it-alls faded and wilted to the strength of the individual men and women who took matters into their own hands, and scraped and gouged dents into the earth and found seeds to push with fingers deep into loam, warmed by the spirit of awakening and possibilities.
The world started to move again, people came out of huts and hovels and blinked at the brightness and stirred their limbs, sweeping arms in circles and limbering knees to chest and shedding the outer layer of damp woolens so the sunlight could spread the glow of life across the pallid skin. And they looked to neighbors and ventured a touch of hand then an embrace of arms in celebration of future. Unbelievable? I think not.