A departure

The day after it happened, he could feel smug smiles everywhere. They crept up his back and gave him shudders. The world had ended, so why was half of it celebrating?

He sought other inflicted souls. They were easy to find, and as each grappled with the impossible, the unimaginable, the gulf between them and the jubilant grew more and more substantial.

Who is to blame? What entity meddled in his future, contaminated the minds of so many, turned neighbor against neighbor? He now feels he needs to keep watch for some malignant force slinking around corners, sowing paranoia, discontent, and opposition in its wake.

He used to think—no, believe—that the future felt ethereal, an almost untouchable golden time waiting for the world. There had been so much progress, so much joy, that it all felt unstoppable. But under the veneer grew a tumor, or some kind of snarling beast.

His hair is fully gray now, and as he prepares for a life he didn’t plan for, he wonders and worries. What will become of his work? The plans he made were all based on that rosy future; they were his lifeblood, his artisanal skills, his reason for being. He’d crafted all of his actions expecting a certain outcome. Now he’s unsure if he’ll ever see it.

The day after it happened, he felt emotions too convoluted to express.

And now? He still must struggle for words.

Is he the one to blame? As the time comes to leave, his mind cannot sit still (a new symptom of what happened).

He must say goodbye, but then?

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