Nothing is the same

Last night I dreamed of a river house. It stood on a hill and from the back porch you could see the water slicing the valley into two sides of a body – the river: its spine. It was dusk. The sun had already set. Like a photographer in a darkroom, night was burning the hills and trees making pieces of the picture impossible to see. But I saw smoke and soon flames rising from two small buildings on the opposite bank. The flames grew larger and larger, billowing smoke plumed into the sky and I turned to watch the news and saw, but also felt in myself, all the people trapped inside those buildings. The report was saying it was a half-way house and hundreds of misguided teens were being killed. I could see inside the houses, girls on fire running out the door, young men hanging themselves with their belts because they knew they couldn’t get out. As more people died, the river, once glittering and steady transformed into liquid fire. The lava marbled through the blue, swallowing everything and I watched from the window, wondering to myself why I had experienced the beginning of something so terrible; why I witnessed the first flicker. I stood there like someone who saw the first plane turn unnaturally in the sky, the air calm only seconds before, that glimpse of a question, confusion come and gone too quickly to solve itself in the mind and when the plane crashes, when everything is engulfed in flame, you know in that instant, nothing is the same.

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