Thursday, July 29, 2010
On Tuesday morning, the air was filled with the scent of roses in full bloom. Every vertical surface was covered with them, wild pink and red climbers with fuzzy yellow centers scaling any wall they encountered. The growth had sprung up overnight, covering the walls of our house with a carpet of flowers, thick enough to completely obscure the peeling paint beneath. In the August sunlight, they seemed to effervesce with velvety luminosity. If it had been dark outside, they would have shone as stars, surrounded by a haze of their brilliance. The entire city was covered, according to the reports of neighbors and friends who had driven through the city in bewilderment, seeking the reason why they had been transported into some version of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The air was moist, as if rain had come and gone and threatened to come again, causing instant perspiration and an acute sense of continually being stifled beneath layers and layers of warm blankets.
Radio and television had both gone dead by about noon, but it was for a different reason than the roses. The sky was achingly blue, the type of blue that picture postcards of tropical islands have in abundance, and there were no clouds. Cumulus, nimbus, stratus, and their myriad other cousins were gone, leaving almost nothing to shield the eyes from the blinding blue that arched overhead like an enormous cathedral. The almost part was striking: a golden wave that hung in the sky like a prop for an elementary school play. It stretched up almost to the height where human eyesight failed, then curved downwards like it was about to break upon us. The great curve inspired breathlessness in all that gazed upon it, and stuck them to the sticky black streets.
In order to escape, we drove. It was a stolen red convertible. We drove with the top down, away from the city and the shimmer of baking asphalt and the smell of roses. Even though we must have driven near to a hundred miles, the golden wave never seemed to move and remained suspended over us. I still could not breath. Eventually, the paved roads ended and we plunged into dirt roads that wound through the forest. The tall pines obscured the sky somewhat, and the sharp scent of their needles cut through the scent of the roses, which climbed around their trunks. It was cooler, although no less humid under the shade of the great trees, which comforted with their solid trunks and whispering boughs. But the forest ended.
After the forest ended, the gas tank ran empty. So we walked across a plain covered with waving grass, hand in hand, under the golden wave, breathing short, fast, breaths of hot, wet air and saying absolutely nothing. Although it must have been many hours since we had last left the city, the light had not changed and the wave still swept up above us. Roses crept along the ground, peeking out from the thick grass like jewels, their petals offering us a scented carpet. It was the end of the world. The plains ended, and out of nowhere appeared a stream, its waters as blue as the sky. A raft bobbed upon its surface, and we climbed aboard, leaving our shoes on the bank to be swallowed by roses. We drifted down the stream for many hours, days, weeks, months, years, and it turned into a wide river under the golden wave. And at last, the sky darkened. In the twilight, the far away banks gleamed with the roses and the stars were obscured by a veil of gold.
We were approaching a great waterfall. Then everything happened. The sky darkened completely, and in that moment our senses were assailed with the sweet smell of roses, the sight of a black and gold sky, and the sound of water falling, from before and above us. We smiled at each other in the darkness. We plunged over the rim as the wave fell, still holding hands. It was the end of the world, and it was more beauty than we could stand.