Flash Fiction: How Long Were You Alone In The Dark?

This is flash fiction about love and survival after nuclear war that I wrote because of all the Korean Peninsula madness going on lately. Enjoy and please comment.

How Long Were You Alone in the dark?

It’s an unanswerable question. How long we spent in darkness.

We (my wife, my brother, my neighbor and I) were down there for about two weeks till something happened to the lights.

We fought it for a while, with candles.

We had nothing else after they burned out.

I suppose an accurate indication of how long we spent without light is that we were expert blind people at the end.

And that when we emerged we were practically blind.

We tore strips of cloth into blindfolds to protect our eyes, and wore them till dusk.

When we could feel the coolness take over from the sweating sun, the most adventurous of us (usually my brother) would remove it first and tell us to

open our eyes.

The first time I saw my wife again- by moonlight amid the chorus of nighttime beasts- I wept fresh tears down the tracks in the grime and sweat on my face.

The first for joy. We reclaimed the most-powerful-country-on-earth with hoots of laughter and by running through the cool grass like children.

We buried my neighbor by the light of the fire and warmed ourselves without looking directly at it. I thought of my neighbor. He had no medication.

When I could look into the fire I told them that I thought it was time to leave.

We found a working truck under debris and sunglasses in a shop with no walls.

As we traveled we saw; melted cities, roads burned to glass, shadows of souls, fields of ploughed bone, picturesque abandoned towns,  lakes filled with cars, headlines on newspapers proclaiming ultimate destruction, blind beggars eaten by dogs, fox-gloves in stump forests and scattered ash in cyclones framing the sun at dusk and at dawn.

The bones of the mountains laid out:

Molars and canines pointing us towards the snout. SOUTH.

My brother told me he missed his wife, his daughters, his friends, our sisters, father, our mother. He walked west and we never saw him again.

I held her at night and we talked about our dreams. She told me that we were alone in the world and that my brother had been wise.

I screamed at her, after I said they were still alive in the south. We made love, parked on the ash of a world amongst the nighttime beasts.

When we ran out of gas we walked. I carried our bags.

We were thin. She told me jokes from before and we tried to forget what had happened.

I read to her love letters that I had saved from when we were young and we painted love hearts on our faces with charcoal in the morning.

When we crossed into the borderlands we held each other’s hand and walked late into the night because there was nothing else to do.

When we lay down to sleep and knew that we wouldn’t wake up we kissed each other.

Me: Thank you for choosing me to spend your life with.

Her: You’re welcome, it wasn’t a hard choice.

Me: I love you.

Her: I love you.

When I woke to bright light I thought it was dawn but it was from the search light of a great vibrating vehicle. The shadows behind it thought we were dead. The light moved off me so I cried out and shielded my eyes when it fixed on me again. I told them we were alive. I saw the South Korean flag on their uniforms and heard a radio playing in the background. Talking about the soccer score.

We had been lied to.

It was not the world that had been destroyed. Just us.

I shook my wife, but she didn’t answer.

Then shook her again and again and again.

Nagasaki_temple_destroyed

“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.”

T.S. Elliot, The Waste Land

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