Was (and Is)

Without an after, there is no before. There is no telling what has happened, and what will. There is no telling if something was better. There is no was.  

This is what Chaos considers as she sits at her window, staring at the world, as it is. There is so much she can do, and, of that, so much she will do. Perhaps there was a time when she considered doing it all. But is there a was at all? 

These are things that aren’t worth the effort of proper thought.  

With a sigh, Chaos stands, stretching her legs until she hears the satisfying crack from between her joints. She turns away from the window and moves to the mirror leaning against the wall. Inside the silver framing, she sees herself, sickly thin and droopy. Maybe there was a time when she looked different, but who’s to say? 

She straightens the blouse she wears, making sure the little buttons make a perfect line from under her chin to her belly button. She runs a finger through her crows-foot, drawing a line of dirt. It’s stark against her skin, and parts are already smudging away. Or had it always been like that? 

Chaos leaves the building without any shoes on. There’s a part of her that enjoys the prickly sensation that spikes up her soles. It’s like nails dragging just beneath the three layers of her skin. She doesn’t know if she liked it then, only that she likes it now.  

The street is empty. Well, only empty of other human life forms— living human life forms. For as far as she can see, her building is the only one standing. Whether it’s the last one left, she can’t remember. Though, that implies there was a before, and this is the after. She can’t decide on whether the skull at her feet has always been like that, or if it’s an after

Why is she outside? Why is she staring at a wasteland of debris, bones, and dust? What made her do this? Did something make her do this?  

What came before this? 

Is this the after? 

Chaos steps forward, careening her neck back and forth. Then she takes another step, and another, until her limbs get the message and she is walking a steady pace.  

A sharp sting bites the bottom of her foot. 

Or has she always been in pain? 

Chaos stops and lowers herself to the ground, crouching. Her arms snake around her legs, hugging them against her chest. She stares at the dust. Part of her wants to believe that dust has come from something else. If it is its own object, she can only call it filthy. But if it came from something, if there was a before, and dust is its after, then it is a memory.  

She must have a before and after. Without a before, there can’t be a present, can there? She was inside the building, now she is outside. Before and after. Was and is. 

Will she become a was? Will she become a before with no after? 

Her gaze shifts to the bones beside her. 

Maybe in the after, no one will care that she is the last one. Maybe she is the last before and after.  

The word why forms on her lips, and her eyes raise to the horizon.  

There has been a before this war. 

When will there be an after? 

E. L. Maloney
E. L. Maloney
Articles: 1

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