We spent a lot of time debating whether or not the blackened landscape was beautiful or horrific. My opinion kept changing daily. I had gotten the idea to put my bright blue wool socks on one morning… I thought they might cheer me and everyone else up, but I was wrong. Even in times like these, quick fixes are still quick fixes, and I never wore them again. I think everybody knew there was nothing to be done but to take stock of our new surroundings and accept them. Nobody really wanted to be there, what choice did we have?
Exhausted, we spent long days dusting snow off the frozen ground and trying to dig holes in it. I was put in charge of maintaining an abandoned free-standing chimney that must have been attached to a house at one time. One day when I was wading through the bramble that had grown around it, I decided to stick my hands in the opening of the chimney to see what I could find… I pulled out a curious collection of items: a frozen and dried lime, a dirty sponge, some nails, a hairbrush. I wasn’t sure what to do with them or why they were there… I had hoped for something simple… a bundle of photographs, maybe a book? I spent long hours lining the objects up on the ground in different orders and looking at them to try and figure out how they fit together.
Night time was spent making escape plans, though we all admitted our new world was almost beautiful in the dark… the sky was always starless and velvety, and the remnants of the forest became a charming menagerie of tunnels and hiding places. Fact was nothing but fiction in these moments and we sometimes were hesitant to sleep because we didn’t want to miss looking at our surroundings in the night light. It was the only time I felt calm and hopeful. As the sun rose each day, we found ourselves silently wishing that all that imagined beauty from the night would really be before us.
Copyright Jenny Brown, 2017
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