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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 137: Kondor 219
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Previous chapter: Brown 241
Zeke’s voice nearly startled him, as he realized he had been sitting on their couch staring into space, not really thinking at all, just feeling, he didn’t know, something.
“I miss her,” he said.
“Leah?” Zeke asked unnecessarily, then came and sat next to him.
“Look, Cap’,” he continued, “I really can’t say I know how you feel. I’ve never had anyone that close to me die. I mean, I was in the army, but we radio techs generally were kept far enough behind the line that very few of us were in any danger, and the war was over before I enlisted, and we didn’t really spend time together much. People were killed that I knew, sort of, but none that were really close like that. But I think you’re allowed to feel bad about it. In fact, I think it’s expected, even necessary.”
Kondor sighed. Zeke was right. He knew that grief was a process. He didn’t know the process, but he was going to have to go through it. In a very short few months Leah had become closer to him than anyone had ever been, and then abruptly she was gone. Dead. Not coming back. He could say it was not fair, but that really didn’t change anything. It was not fair. Get over it.
“You’re right,” he said. “I just didn’t expect--any of this. When we got married, I thought we would live together forever.”
“Well, I think everyone thinks that,” Zeke said with a smile. “Of course, you really might have been right, but--you know, she believed she was going to live after death, in heaven, or whatever she called it. You offered her a different kind of eternal life, but she didn’t marry you to live forever. She married you to be married to you. I don’t think she thought she lost that life after death when she died.”
“Well, yes, that’s what she thought--”
“Oh, yeah, I know, you don’t believe any of that life after death stuff. The point is that she believed it. She wasn’t afraid to die.”
“But she died, and that was the end for her.”
“So you say,” Zeke said. “You know you’re in the minority. I mean, Leah disagreed. Lauren would disagree, and Slade and Shella and Derek and Vashti. And me. We all think you’re wrong, that there is life after death.”
“Which would matter if truth were a matter of majority opinion. Besides, none of you will ever know that.”
“No? What about Lauren’s story about meeting Saint Peter--and she has that cross she wears that she got from him. And Bob and Shella were reunited when they were both snatched to the home of a genie.”
“I’m sure they think they were in supernatural realms. I think they were simply in different universes, just as we were in that Arabian world a few months back and now we’re here. There’s nothing supernatural about it, and it proves nothing.”
“Ah, but there’s the rub. I can’t prove to you that Leah is still alive. You saw her. She spoke to you. You wrote it off as a--what did you call it? A grief-induced hallucination. But what if it wasn’t? Is there nothing that would prove to you that she’s still alive, somewhere beyond your reach?”
Kondor sat in silence for a moment. It was true that he was firmly persuaded that there was no life after death, no supernatural world, and that he could think of nothing that would persuade him otherwise. The fact that something so absurd as a god could not be proved by any evidence whatsoever was perfectly reasonable, as far as he could see. It was foolishness to think otherwise. No proof was possible, because the idea itself was ridiculous, irrational, unreasonable.
“Of course, that’s not really the point, is it?” Zeke suddenly continued. “It doesn’t matter whether she’s alive somewhere. You’ve lost her, and you can’t get her back. This isn’t really about her. It’s really about you, your loss.”
Zeke stood. “I’m sorry I can’t help with that. All I can suggest is that you get on with life the best you can. They say time heals. I don’t know whether that’s true, but it’s the best advice I’ve got.”
They did say that. And it was true that his work here had distracted him from the pain. He didn’t think he would ever be over her death; he didn’t even think he wanted to be. Somehow it felt like it would be unfair to her for him to lose this pain. He should have been able to save her. He failed her. He lost her.
He understood why some people drank alcohol. That was an option, but he decided against it and headed for bed.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #456: Versers Prepare. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: