Sunday, February 28, 2010

The End of Our World

We had heard the warnings: a nuclear explosion and death imminent. We needed to get to a safe space. People congregated in the school hall at the end of a corridor. I hoped my children were among them. I could not be certain. I was busy chasing up a couple of other children, two boys, one of whom insisted on climbing up a tower to have a look out and to help fix a technological fault. I called up to him to hurry.

People were racing along corridors to get to the safe place. We had only minutes to spare. A person on a loudspeaker counted down the seconds. All this in slow motion and I had still not reached the safe place.

Somehow the explosion went off and I found myself behind the closed doors of the school hall while I noticed my sister come racing down still outside. Could we let her in or would we be required to keep the doors sealed from then on through fear of radioactivity?

We opened the doors. I went looking for my children in this crowded building, out the back way towards the toilets where I met my husband. He and I were alone now in a sealed off toilet block, alone while the rest of the world was dying. We knew it was only a matter of time before we too would die. We sat on the floor and leaned against the wall. We were reconciled, tranquil even. At one stage I got up again and peeked through the door into the open courtyard and grey wafts of radioactive smoke full of heat poured in. I shut the door instantly and sat down again. We knew we would be unconscious before we felt any pain, before the heat consumed us. This was a relief. My husband was already drifting off.

Did we say our goodbyes? I knew we were soon to die but still I could not believe it. I wanted to see my children at least one last time assuming they were still alive.

I had taken off my shoes. I slipped them back on with the thought I will die wearing shoes. Then I decided to get up again. I was wide-awake. I went out a different door this time and was surprised that the grey breeze was not so powerful now. There was also a wind that seemed to blow the radioactive fog away.

I ran along the corridor into another building. Clusters of people milled around talking to one another. One person had even prepared a meal. He sat at a low table knife and fork in hand. It might be a good idea to eat, I thought. Who knows soon there would be food shortages.

One couple held a baby. I thought of my grandson. Where were they, my soon to be married daughter, her partner and their son? Where were my other daughters? I did not feel distressed only a vague sense of resignation as if I had accepted our fate, whatever our fate would bring. I woke up trying to locate each of my children.

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