Time’s clock is forever ticking above death’s throne. The clock’s glass face absorbes the colours of the landscape where death resides. The greyish-green of the stone mass, a floating island, and the pinky-red fire of the sky above and below, reflects on the clock’s face.
The figure of death sits soberly in his throne. The stone carved form a perfect fit for his lanky tall body. Beneath death’s left and right hands, the leering skulls of his first two victims sit. They are from our first two ancestors, people who lived exceptionally long compared to the humans living in modern times. Adam and Eve had tried to evade death, even though they knew he was coming for them. They had been ignorant and had no idea what death actually meant until they breathed their last.
Their souls he’d had to let fly in heaven, gold birds with giant wings exploring their freedom and return to painlessness. He had kept their skulls, though one day he knew he would have to return them. For now, Adam and Eve’s skulls peered eerily out onto whichever soul was before death seated on his throne. Together with the dying person, death watched their last seconds of life tick away. He towered over them in his realm and let their soul sour to heaven or to hell, there was no inbetween except him.
Some souls who stood before him were not afraid. This always amazed death. He was an imposing figure, giant and fearsome, his red hair as consuming flames, and his eyes burning coals. Some humans gazed up at him with what frightened death as wisdom, something they had gained, which few knew, not even him. Their souls flew away and he knew he would never see them again. Other people crumbled before him and he took time to torment them whether they went below or above. He was death after all, a fearsome being.
Yet, he had no control where a soul went. Death had no power to choose or to do as he wanted. He had a job, a task. He was death, he killed; but he was not merely an end. He was also the beginning. What he valued most of all, freeing those souls trapped in decaying bodies or in bodies injured profusely. Death was a contradiction of terms, both good and evil. Souls of faith went above and souls of disbelief went down to hades. Even death was afraid of what lay far beneath him in the abyss.
“Why don’t they rebuild this old stone building Grandpa?”
“You know well, Gertrude, it costs a great deal to repair a historical building. They can’t even take it down because this building is a designated historical site.”
“That doesn’t seem right. Why would we leave something so valuable to history, to fall apart? Eventually it will only be a pile of rubble and everyone will forget its significigance,” Gertrude mused.
” Maybe someday someone like you, Gertrude, will restore the building. It’s a painstaking process and you must use and find authentic materials.”
She nodded. “I understand Grandpa, but sometimes certain cities choose not to rebuild. Like in Venice, many buildings are left to disintegrate and collapse into the water. They don’t let architects even plan to rebuild. Many once grand buildings are in such dangerous condition, they’ve been left so long.”
“Restoring old buildings can be good Gertrude. They are a part of humanity’s history. We need to remember our history to learn from it. But sometimes we need to knock old buildings down and design better ones from our present day knowledge. Future generations can learn from us through newer buildings too,” Grandpa said.
Gertrude nodded. She was training to be an architect but was only a freshman in university. Her Grandpa had been a great architect and was still well known.
“What will future people learn from our buildings, Grandpa?”
“Hopefully, they’ll learn our buildings are stronger. Made with more thought to design, to the environment, and how the everyday person lives. Our simple routines we take for granted are our history as much as the calamities of our time.”
Gertrude frowned, turning to her Grandpa. He was wearing his WWII uniform for the Rememberance Day Ceremony; he was going to walk in a parade as well.
“Will they remember men such as you, Grandpa? Men who fought for their freedom in Normandy and in other places in Europe? Will they understand why you and other soldiers have nightmares from war? Will they remember why you had to fight and saw so many of your buddies die brutally?”
A tear escaped Grandpa’s eye and he shook his head, not able to speak. He was too afraid what he and his fellow soldiers had fought for in brutal war, would melt away in time.
Lest We Not Forget. November 11th is Remberance Day in Canada.
“In Flanders Fields”
John McCrae, 1872 – 1918
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,