Longest Autumn

29 03 2006

Amadeus

It had been the longest autumn he had lived through. He sat on an old lawn chair, writing out flowery poems. It was as if there was nothing more to life. A plane was landing in the distance at a nearby airport. Twelve seconds later he saw the plane engulfed in flames. Less than a second after that, he heard a glorious explosion. The poet remained seated; the vision of the disintegration of the plane suddenly became connected with the violent noise. He stopped writing his poem, he stopped imagining about tomorrow, he stopped altogether. A voice behind him cried out,

“Jesus, Amadeus, did you hear that? Do you think? Oh, God.”

Amadeus did not move. His shoulders did not tremble, his face did not shatter, only a small hint of melancholy emanated as a tear from his left eye. Never before had his oldest son, Nick, called him by his first name; he thought about that. Had they suddenly become equal? It would have to be a question he would ignore until later; his eyes were transfixed on the slowly burning plane in the horizon. He knew his future hung in the balance and yet it was completely impossible for him to do anything but watch, simply futile. The smell of burning jet fuel eventually made its way up to camp, the children surrounding Amadeus. When, at last, the sun had set, Amadeus rose from the lawn chair and went inside to turn off the television set which reported on several stations the landing gear failure on flight 223. He went inside and locked himself in her room. The children huddled together asking him to come out. No response.

The following morning, the children acted like angels. No one turned on the television, they served him breakfast. It was not burnt toast and uncooked eggs like it was on his last birthday. Everything was clean, everything was as it should be. At precisely eight in the morning, he opened his door, each footstep correlating to a chime of the clock. No one said a word. In truth, nothing needed to be said. He sat down, his face about to crumple in, tears streaming, turning his face down towards the table. Before the huddle of children came, however, he said one thing, “she’s gone.” At this, everyone took on a stance of more intent, focused quiet as if their silence would console him. He suddenly lifted his head, ate his food, and smiled. He genuinely smiled, reminded that he still had joy in his life. Some would call the children obligations, ties. To him, they were everything – hopes, fears, dreams, all potentials. Children are potential incarnate. One cannot imagine anything but a happy life for this man, even amidst the deepest sorrows.

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