Common Disaster

Common Disaster (Earphones)Jeremy Schwach was born in 2029 in the sunny multicultural Revenants, an only child.  His father, a member of the Praetorian Guard turned Masonric Corp engineer, wanted a better life for the family so he moved the family up the Messipi River to the very poor Port Town, in 2035; because Mid-Atlantic and Appalachian Mountain tectonic plate convergent zones caused subduction impossible to mitigate, or, in some cases, even to live with.  Sea levels rose covering the Carolinas to the eastern city-states and inland to I-95.  The east coast water is completely toxic with unknown quantities of sewage, fuel, and industrial chemicals, which have killed all sea life; vandals have lit the surface slicks on fire; Boston burned until 2016.  Every coastal city-state suffered losses in the eighty to ninety percent range.  The loss of 15% of its territory to the ocean, the loss of some of the most populated, symbolic, and valuable coastal city-states reduced the NAU to a loose collection of anarchist city-states.  The government of the NAU relocated to Arapahoe, becoming buildings full of ineffective men and women, lacking a treasury, an organized military, a reliable communications system.

At primary school the taunts and bullying started, calling him ‘ecchi.’  To keep his individuality Jeremy paid a high-price, learning to live with secrets and lies, but developed cunning that would serve him later in life because of it.  He worked out the trolley routes and times to avoid bullies, going home, and hiding bruises and scars because to discuss them would ensure another beating.  To escape Jeremy created a rich inner fantasy world, developing melodies and harmonies in his head.  At the age of ten Jeremy’s parents divorced when his mother was no longer willing to put up with his father’s brutal silences all day, and then crawling into bed with expectations of entitlement he believed marriage brought.  She eventually turned to other men and ethanol to comfort herself before leaving.  Jeremy went to live with his mother in one-bedroom colonial home she bought in The Revenants, where the two of them shared the same bedroom.  In that home for two she taught her son how to clean, do drugs, make a dress, and gave him his first sip of absinthe.  At the age of fifteen his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had a mastectomy. When she woke up in the hospital Jeremy was by her side. Using a Kodak Polaroid snapped their picture.  Afterwards, as the picture developed she had looked at her son and slowly advised, “Don’t be safe – be authentic,” letting each syllable weigh heavily.  Several months later, after Jeremy’s sixteenth birthday, she died of a brain tumor behind her left eye.  He followed her wishes and had her cremated, placing the holiograph of them at the hospital in the casket with her, burning the evidence of how cancer had aged her face.  At her memorial he had stood at the podium, frozen next to her orange and black speckled urn, and quietly described her as the best woman in the world and as strict as it was necessary.  A plaque nailed at is base read: Future dreams never last, if you live in the past.  The grief and crying he had expected, not the relief and hatred for the woman that crafted him.  There was not enough exaggeration to call her a good mother, so it was with a strange ambivalence that Jeremy left the urn at the colonial house when his father came to collect him.

[To Continue Reading the Short Story Click the PDF Below]

(2055) Common Disaster *Adult Content*

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