The world was tired.
Sometime in winter.
The Calfera Gardens stood still.
Bone cold air, dry dusk. A barely visible kind of thin soot covered the ice and snow. Unfaded blue Synthas and other
white flowers swayed in perfect nano-governed symmetry against a blank white plate of post-suburban landscape.
Calfera Drive gripped the residential lines of sparse, high gaunt trees scraping light from a canopy of dark clouds vaulted
above. Bare limbs of tall white oaks meandered in the air slowly
breathing threads of wind like flies swatted by a newspaper.
Pockets of scorched black ground seeped through holes in the melting snow. As one approached the house.
Dr. Damiand’s front door cried a defiant red.
Enormous bay windows came jutting over an excess part of
the driveway like a steamship’s bow hanging over a dock.
A shiny navy colored D-Mailbox, untouched by the
elements, read in machine carved font:
“UnaDriven Fairview DIPLOMAT District Seg. 255.”
Inside the house someone weeping could be heard. Lightly gasping for air. Of the entire neighborhood only the Damiands had managed
to remain animated.
He spoke to her distinctly, as if a premeditated verse.
“Are you still there Johanna?”
No one said anything. Her mouth motioned itself open.
“Johanna,” he said again, more firmly than before.
She put a hand on his after a long attempt.
Then, “I love you Johanna,” Mr. Damiand told her in a soft,
distant, murmuring voice.
“I will always love you.”
This time he could feel the muscles within him stretching
against bone. It was slowing down, he knew it.
Breathing heavy. Looking down at her.
“If you make it out of here Johanna, tell them we had no
idea. Tell them Helen had no idea.”
She wouldn’t make it. He knew he wouldn’t either.
She turned to face him with an endearing smile full of tears,
pain and adoration.
Surrender. She tightened her grip around his palm one last
time. Before she froze completely.
Rocking back and forth very slightly, he let out a bothered
“Push it down, down!” Kneading his thighs.
“Oh God in Heaven, Johanna!”
Tears joined his chin before he could realize he’d begun
crying. His face remained still, stricken with a grief so intense it
had long exceeded any expression.
And then she was gone.
Johanna, his wife, was dead. What that meant, how cheated
one could still feel despite a lifetime knowing it would happen...
That it would all end...someday. She just wasn’t moving. Maybe.
It looked as though she could.
She doesn’t really even look dead!
The lines between his personal feelings were no longer
distinct, only the imprint of where emotions had been. So very
human, the impulse to touch a loved one in the moment of their
death, his hand passed a light kiss from his lips to her cheek.
He crouched down again and nuzzled the bones of her
knuckles with his nose and lips. The remaining wisps of his hair
fell in his face, his jaw sunk open. Squeezed his eyes as he
clenched the arms of her wheelchair falling back in quiet
sobbing. A spaceship door had been breached, the suction of
anti-gravitation pulling him away.
“We tried Johanna, we tried.”
An Una-Print Medallion was hanging on a silver chain
around her neck. Emerald-blue and crystal.
He looked at the necklace, and into the Crystal. Was she in
there somewhere still listening to him? Is there something,
anything he could say that would make her come back?
“Una where are you!” he screamed into the empty kitchen
and dining room, a flat echo ricochetting back within an instant
to punch him in the ear.
He gripped the Medallion so hard, his hand looked
as if to crush it. Continuing to clench it, his intensity was
slipping, a remaining grip, firm, now merely to emphasize... He
shuddered to a gradual halt still clasping the UnaCrystal. It
matched the grey-bluish pre-decay of her abandoned skin.
Of all ridiculous things that came and went over the years...All the
times she got away with so many risky procedures... Hell, of all the
insanity in the universe, couldn’t it have been different, just this once?
She could move...with a jolt, one jolt on the rack maybe...
Johanna, her stiff weight caused her to fall back in her chair,
she faced slightly more upright now from her former wheelchair
posture. She gazed, still as a mannequin with washed out
glassiness toward the ceiling. Her white and blue trim robe had a
small cartoon-scene of a reindeer, a cactus and a butterfly; red,
blue and green. In that order, a bit faded on her upper left breast
near her shoulder.
Damiand rose to his feet.
Blood from out of nowhere had granted him an abrupt,
unexpected jolt of flexibility. Could it be that he was getting
No, there’s no way I’d be the only one.
Time had left with parts of his mind, somewhere there...in
between his moments of sitting next to her...