Every time the world has ended a man or woman has risen to the sky to sing the song of rebirth-a song of purity and beauty that creates a new world from the debris of the old.
The measure ends and the song repeats thousands of times-thousands of chances to learn from our past mistakes. The song repeats. That is, until the scientists and philosophers all came together and discovered the pattern of death and rebirth and fancied themselves kings of the new world. They sought out the girl of the new generation with the song in her heart and lectured and dictated to her open mind: “There is no God, no karma, no soul, no universe, no conscience. We are alone, we are abandoned- morality and ethics be damned. Emotions are fragments of mind- love descended from lust. They fall to waste. It is mathematical, it is a pattern. When the world ends, you will sing and we will rise from the ashes.”
And the girl nodded and they took her away and secluded her in a white room. The song in her heart spoke of light, but she never saw it. The song spoke of unity, but the world remained eternally foreign to her. For the duration of her lifetime, the girl stayed in the white room-ignorant of all, but uncorrupted by the realm outside. For as the people of the world had learned of the pattern of birth and rebirth, they decided that the answers to What and Why and How no longer held meaning. They realized that there was never much difference between the pious man and the benevolent atheist and so both ceased to be. The clergy and the mothers had rent their garments and jumped into the rivers to be baptized into their unfaith for they had convinced themselves that humans are not predisposed to be good. And people stole and killed and hurt, and this was accepted as our natural state. And with each evil act, the world was darkened with smog and dirt and black dust that hovered in the air.
They never realized that they were suffocating.
One day when the world was very old and very dirty, the self-proclaimed kings unlocked the door and set free the girl with the song in her heart, now a very old woman close to death herself. Immediately, as if she were a loose balloon, the woman’s body rose into the sky. Her eyes that had never seen light were quickly blinded by the ever-approaching sun. With her limbs outstretched as she hovered and faced the stars and with eyes closed, she burst forth. And produced…a cough. She coughed and coughed on the sooty air of the atmosphere and the dust that she coughed from her lungs fell like black rain on to the people back on Earth. They pointed to the soot falling from the sky and called, “Look there is betrayal. There is deceit. There are all the atrocities we have committed. There goes hatred, intolerance, lies.” And they watched the grime fall until they were silently drowned in their own tainted rain, fingers still pointing to the sky above, transfixed by their own filth. And as the old woman was overwhelmed by the resulting silence, she realized that there was no song, no new world. Her race had been smothered by the dust and dirt of sin. She shed no tears.
She would have smiled grimly at the sadness of it all.
But there was no time. If there was ever such a thing, it existed no longer.
Amanda Brenner is a sophomore at The American University School of International Service in Washington, D.C. This is her first published story.