Jasper shakily stepped over the exposed tree roots, trying to keep himself steady with his cane. He grunted as he managed to climb over the roots without incident. His eyes roamed upward as he looked around at all the trees.
They were long dead.
And most of them had decomposed.
A sigh escaped him and tears pricked his eyes. He rested the wrinkled and rusted palm of his hand on one of the few surviving tree trunks. “Sorry, old girl,” he whispered.
He closed his eyes as the memories from that night many years ago flashed through his mind.
Thirteen-year-old Jasper was woken up by his mother frantically shaking him awake. He heard a loud alarm blaring. He rubbed his eyes. “Come on, Jasper!” his mother practically screamed. She looked at him, eyes wild with terror and she dragged him from the bed. “They’re coming!” she frantically whispered.
Jasper flinched as the whine of the aircraft filled his ears as loudly and as petrifying as it had all those years ago.
The sickening thud as his mother collapsed to the ground just as he reached the shelter.
The whistle of the nuclear bomb as it slammed into the ground.
A scream tore through his memories.
He realised it was his.
How? It was a question he had asked himself a million times; a million times since the bomb went off. It wasn’t as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima, but it was pretty powerful.
How did I survive?
The buildings vanished without a single crumb. Everyone else died.
He somehow lived while everyone else were vaporized, leaving only their shadow as the one sign that someone had been there.
He continued onwards, searching for where his house used to be. There was no sign or indication anywhere. It had all been wiped away. His breath hitched and he suddenly began coughing. He soon doubled over as he hacked up flem.
He smiled grimly. It was starting to happen. The place still had radiation in it. Not to big, but enough that it would eventually kill someone if they stayed in the area for more than an hour or two.
And he had been in the area searching for the place where his town used to be for just over an hour, Jasper estimated.
But I’m already dying from the constant cancer caused by the nuclear bomb.
The constant cancer had him always on medication. It had also prevented from being able to have any children or even able to try to have any with anyone.
It had even prematurely aged him.
Jasper spotted water up ahead and hurried forward. Sharton’s River, he thought with a grin. It was named after his great-great-great-grandfather when he found gold in the river, which helped build the town, which was called Sharton in his honour.
With a content sigh, his eyes fondly surveyed the river as memories of playing in the water with his mother filled his mind. The sounds. The smell. It all came flooding back like a tsunami, leaving him feeling swamped as tears flowed down his face. It was here at this very spot, he recalled, that his mother threw him into the river to teach him how to swim. It was how her father taught her and her siblings.
Staring at the river, he remembered when he was ten lying flat on his back in the river and floating along in the river, the birds – bright and colourful – perching themselves on his chest. It had been autumn and he had been enamored by the sight of the red and orange leaves that had been floating down around him and lazily landing on the water’s surface…and sometimes onto his nose.
He looked up at the trees…
…or where they ought to be, but were simply no longer there.
Feeling his breath growing more and more shallow and his sight more and more blurry, Jasper rolled up his trouser cuffs like he had when he was a boy and waded into the water, leaving his cane behind. Feeling it’s cool kiss on his legs, he felt a renewed sense of energy flowing through him.
Cause he was back where he should be.
Where he was going to stay.
With a feeling of childish glee, Jasper lay on his back in the water, arms and legs outstretched. There was still a slight current and it began sending him downstream. He stared up at the sky, suddenly feeling like he was floating on air.
This time there was no leaves spiraling downwards.
No birds warbling on his chest or in the trees.
Just utter silence.
As it will forever.
He closed his eyes and he saw his mother’s face. Smiling. Joyful.
Soon, Jasper silently promised her. I’ll come around for a visit very soon, Mother.
I would like to state that though this story was inspired by Hiroshima, this story is not set during Hiroshima and the events, places and the whole story are completely fictitious.
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