It’s been a while since I have posted, but let me tell you it was worth the wait. I present to you a short story by my gorgeous sister. Next week I will review the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl.
Layers of time eroded by my hands to reveal a piece of the past. Harsh sunlight exposing two skeletons imprisoned in an embrace. Feeling as though I am intruding on their privacy, I photograph the find. The exact date undiscernible as yet, an estimation of 4,000 years old. Awe lights up my face. To look upon these bones, unscathed by time, fills me with infinite thoughts, feelings, and emotions I cannot identify.
The surface of this land is lifeless. Beneath a blanket of red earth, a treasure trove awaits. It is difficult to comprehend the age of the earth, the millions of years for which life has existed, the millions of years that humans have existed. To grasp the insignificance of the individual gives me freedom. I am a microscopic part of the big picture, one person among the billions who have existed.
I realise sadly they will never be remembered. Their story, their love. Who are they? Imagination does not satisfy. I stare hungrily at the remains, thinking in some strange way that staring at them long enough would tell me what I need to know. The boundaries of time provide barriers almost too large to overcome.
I don’t notice him until he’s right beside me, a presence barely tangible against the attention held in my mind by the skeletons. I remember how to smile. Not a word is spoken, he hands me an object and leaves. I get back to work. Slow, steady work. As the minutes ooze by, I remove more and more dirt from the find, revealing the white bones. The skulls are now completely exposed. I take pleasure in quiet work, the vast openness of the site muffles any sounds.
Looking closely at the bones, searching for answers, I realise there are minuscule threads of fabric wedged into their necks. Leaning closely to investigate, I hear a rustle behind me, and turn around to find my answer. A scroll lies between the feet of the skeletons. I have always been fast at reading, deciphering the hieroglyphics is no problem. Realisation dawns, and I look around frantically to see where he is. But the site is empty, the disturbed dust gently falling back to the earth. He is gone.
I look around once again and see, for the first time, the flowers he gave me before. A cluster of striking red roses, bright against the dull red colour of the earth. Memories re-surface; the endless stares he gave me, his seemingly innocent interest in my work, in carrying my equipment for me… But it is too late. He is gone.
Looking at the scroll lying between the skeletons, I whisper in my mind I will remember you. Looking at these spoils I do what I’ve always done. I continue my treasure hunt.
* * *
He looked over across the metres of land that separated them. Silence as she works. Two years they have worked together. She has found something, her expression betrays her awe. Hazel eyes devouring up the sight.
Re-focusing on his hands, he realises he has uncovered an object. Hoping to receive that identical look of awe from her, he dusts off the red dirt and a scroll is revealed. His heart sinks; it is nothing of value. Something is recorded on the scroll in a style of hieroglyphs he has studied previously. Knowledge from the past, rusty and unused, strained to comprehend the muddle of pictures and contours filling the scroll. ‘Record of death’ Curiosity awoken, he reads further on… ‘Female and Male. Condemned to death on the 2nd day of the 9th full moon. Found dead in cell. Cause of death: Strangulation’. He discards the scroll from his thoughts, mind turning to the inevitable passing of time. His eyes turning to the gift he bought for her.
The flowers will soon dry up, so will his courage. The walk over is quick, as if the two long years of anticipation meant nothing. On the way, in the split seconds before he arrives by her side, he becomes aware of his surroundings. The sun, high above on its throne of blue, looking down on him with warmth and encouragement. The dusty, silent site divided into taped-off sections, each holding a piece of history. The tranquillity of this world, which can be shattered in one moment.
Unnoticed, he pauses to appreciate this instant which will soon become a memory. But will he treasure that memory? He turns to her, a question in his eyes.
A smile! But her eyes are vacant. He knows, at that point, that she lives in the past. Acceptance stifles the brief moment of anguish and doubt. She stares at the skeletons with a fierce longing he cannot comprehend. Unnerved, he hands her the flowers anyway. She turns away immediately, back to her work. It doesn’t matter. This is the end.
Back turned to her, he begins to walk away when a flash of creamy-white among the red, dusty earth catches his eye. The scroll. Of course. He walks over to her one last time and places the scroll at the skeleton’s feet. By the time she looks around for him he is a speck in the distance, watching, waiting. She returns to her work. She has what she wants.
The sun beat down on the barren land, shrivelling the flowers, forgotten by her side. He shivers. No comfort from the sun. No warmth from the sun.
*I took this picture of the harbour bridge in one of Sydney’s usual, beautiful sunsets. Enjoy 🙂