by Shweta Ravi
I’m called back into my body, after what might be called years of dim remembrance. I’m at the crest of what seems like a Ferris wheel’s loop, its rods and struts jammed and jutting. I scream like an alarmed kakapo but people don’t heed me, if they are people at all, limping on bones distorted like the horns of an impala. Another sprawl of fire tears through my town, turning to tephra, all that was once magnificent. Once. When we believed well or pretended well. Who knows.
I can’t stop gazing at what I’m looking. Two bizarrely similar, shapeshifted versions of my beloved daughter crawling amidst the howling specimens of the human race. But where’s Miriam? I see her sneak out like a fire wraith, her caramel braids burnt, clawing away those two anomalies into her embrace. Daughter’s daughters! I’m swept by an atavistic urge to kiss them, hug them, wheel their perambulators… but flames lash in uneven rhythms. I unspool my frantic arms, but no…not a pulse pounces in my wrist. No sweat beads skid down my temples, no epidermal reminders of a life beating within. Ascending flames don’t even tint me yellow because, is my blood no longer red?
A gong peals. Downwards. Closer. Summons the sweep of my gaze around. 11, 10, 9, 8,7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and I.
The wheel is a freestanding oversized vintage clock, wedging me like a relic, into the cleft in number 12. Its hands touch me with judgement. Below, bare and brutal, the blaze tails off lives, daughter by daughter… Is there anyone out there? Can you hear my sobs? My bestial laughter? Aren’t the happily dead supposed to be happy and dead? The clock is a face of glass, labelled on its back plate are words but flipped on their heads for I peer from the top. Can you tell me what it says?
Date of Mfg: 09/12/ 2040
Intended Use: What you see of you is a part of you. The rest of you is perpetuated by the wheel of time in a million oscillations, long after you’re gone. You are resonating in this world through your loved ones, the non-biodegradable world you thought you had exhaled.
Shweta Ravi is an educator and writer from India. She was shortlisted in the Strands International Flash Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in various literary journals like Bending Genres, Reflex Fiction,The Cabinet of Heed, Feral Poetry and Versification. She enjoys incarnating in unknown lives until her own ghost insists on claiming her back.