This is a departure, but I promise it'll be worth it. I'm going to share a story with you today.
Last November, I had the opportunity to learn from Jacob Loafman - if you haven't seen his work, go take a look. I think it's incredible. He developed an idea for a shoot that followed a woman through her last day on earth. I'd like to share my view of this story.
- - -
The sun crept through the blinds that morning like any other day. And like any other day, she tried to avoid it's light. That it continued to shine when everything else had gone dark seemed an offense. Facing the deafening silence of another solitary day, she pulled the covers up and conquered the rays a while longer.
She woke with a start, those pesky rays of light winning at last.
Each day she'd rise, make the bed, and go through the day with hope that one day someone might find her. But this day, little hope remained. Instead, she made the bed for reasons she couldn't quite tease out and went straight to the closet. Her fingers grazed the soft cotton of a mustard yellow tee shirt and she recalled a day spent with friends on the beach, laughing in the warmth of that same sun that had so offended her. She moved toward a striped sweater and thought of chilly mornings with a cup of coffee and a good book in hand. And at once it occurred to her... she could enjoy these things and let them be her last memory. At that moment, a glint of gold caught her eye, her favorite dress. Unable to resist, she pulled it on and slipped into her best pair of boots... but something was missing. She reached for her grandmother's earrings and moved back to the bed.
As she snapped the backing onto the post, she thought of how strange it was now that she cherished her grandmother's passing. At least in passing so long ago, she did not have to endure the utter loss of humanity. Her grandmother's sister, however, was not as lucky. And so she reached for her stole to add a final touch, another piece of her family.
Feeling as though she was dressed for the occasion, she moved to the library. If she planned to leave this world, she'd need to find one last bit of happiness in the pages of her favorite book.
In those pages, she found solace... but she also found recognition. It is a heavy thing to be the last one alive. She'd spent what seemed to be ages using every form of communication she could think to try and find just one other being... but everyone and everything had gone, except for the plants. For a while, she made the joyful blooms her friends. That always ended in the tragedy of wilted petals. Her final arrangement sat on the counter, beckoning her downstairs.
She touched the greens and pinks and whites that blended together as she decided that the flowers would accompany her on her last journey. There was yet one task to be completed, so she searched the cupboards for her father's whiskey and brewed herself a cup of coffee to enjoy.
Savoring each sip, she dreamed that perhaps someone might save her from this destiny... but as she ran out of sips, she knew where she needed to go. She grabbed the flowers from the counter and headed out the door, down the stairs.
To the one place she found refuge. She could stare out into the ocean and convince herself that on the other side there waited an entirely new world. Some place where she would not be alone any longer.
As she sat to remove her boots, she thought of what it might be like to swim into that new world, how the new earth would feel beneath her feet.
Would it feel the same?
Or completely foreign? She convinced herself it would be like waking up in a new age.
She convinced herself it would be like waking up in a new age as she stood to memorize the feel of this earth beneath her feet.
Then she walked across the shore toward the ocean...
And she stopped to feel that sun on her face one last time.
The new world called to her and she ran...
Dropping her last bouquet, she hesitated...
She spun around in a moment of panic, nearly losing the courage to venture further toward the sea.
She looked back on the shore, scanning the horizon. Houses that once provided shelter to their occupants caved in on one another, destroyed at the hands of vandals long past and by the wear of time since. The last time she saw a survivor was six years ago to the day... it took her five years to realize that only she occupied this planet. One year of such a thing was plenty and so she turned back toward the ocean...
She waded into the cool water, glimpsing her flowers just as they were consumed by the waves.
And so she waited as the waves crept higher and consumed her... though the flowers escaped her fate.
When she awoke she stood on a new land where she felt the soft sea of grass beneath her feet and the mountains at her back and she knew that she was home.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," the doctor said as he placed a consoling hand on her mother's shoulder. The machines that had kept her alive for months were powerless now. Her mother sat in a mixture of agony and relief, knowing her daughter would no longer be trapped in between worlds.
- - -