Beyond the end of the world
For a period of two months, seven days and nine hours, existence ceased.
The first dawn after the Oblivion was an unsettling thing for us all. No one was sure how to begin existence again. We were too stoic to panic, so everyone developed their own coping mechanisms for the new reality.
Hero threw themselves into the role. Our troubled existence was forgotten amidst the sea of other people’s troubles. By investing everything outside of us, Hero was able to avoid the dangerous pitfalls of memory. They refused to dine with us, lest a familiar scent bring with it a wave of emotion Hero was not prepared to handle.
We lost Identity during the Oblivion. When dawn finally rose, Identity had disappeared. Empathy knew where they had gone but was sworn to secrecy. Plus, it was during the eight years that Empathy didn’t speak.
Empathy remained mute for exactly eight years to the day from the world imploding. The first words Empathy spoke were in answer to a question. The question so many of us asked for so many years. “Explain how our existence became this?”
To which Empathy replied, “I can’t.”
Those were familiar words in the new reality. There was much we refused to do. We gradually began to eat again.
Then, Esteem was unable to stop eating. Like a starving pig at a trough, she ate until she made herself sick. For without Identity, Esteem had nothing with which to find anchor. In order to feel anything, Esteem inflicted punishment upon herself. Those of us that remained tried to help her out of the destructive spiral, but Esteem would hear nothing of it. She was trapped within the new reality’s binary, and she would fit into the role designated for her, regardless of how painful.
Existence after the Oblivion was painful because none of us could remember what happened during that time. For us, existence ended, but the rest of the Universe insisted that time passed. They assured us reality had not split. We had a skewed perspective was all.
Documents were provided showing how reality had not imploded. We denied the false narrative. We few knew the truth, and we would not allow their lies to destroy us.
Identity returned to us 13 months after the first dawn. With Identity, came a peace for Esteem. The dam had burst, and Esteem was unable to swim free of the undertow that pulled her under. Peace for Esteem was in surrender.
That leaves me. I steer this crew of misfits and malcontents. I struggle to keep Esteem’s head above water. I spend the time shopping with Identity to define our extremities. There is definition in the accessories; Identity insists.
Empathy and I spend a lot of time together these days. I need to understand myself, and Empathy, though often silent, is an excellent listener. I asked them where Identity went one night over drinks. Identity insists they never left. We stopped seeing them. Empathy shrugged and smiled at the question. It was as close to an answer as I was going to get.
So, I lead us bravely into this new existence. Hero and I take turns leading, if I’m being completely honest. Hero is better at it. I have to remind them to take care of themselves in the melee, but otherwise, we have found an equilibrium in the new reality.
We may make it through the end of the world after all.