Write about: the explosion.
Still not feeling great, but definitely improving. Maybe one more good night's sleep will do the trick? Maybe?
Max spent most of this morning kicking balls around the house with his aunt, but there was a brief break to go across the street and make a snowman in the elementary school's field. Because even though yesterday there was no snow on the ground whatsoever, enough fell overnight to make that doable.
There was a bit more kicking time after lunch, then Max and I showed Sue a good portion of the videos I've taken of him over the last couple years. I'd really just intended to show her a couple, but Max kept saying 'How about... this one?' and pointing at other thumbnails. And it's kinda hard to say no to him when he gets like that.
Anyway, we had to drive Sue to the airport in Penticton mid-afternoon, so we all packed into the car to see her off. Not sure Max fully got what was happening, but Sue and I definitely did. Ah well, we'll see her again this summer.
I was away at college, almost two thousand kilometers from home, when the town I grew up in was leveled by the explosion. The news arrived on my doorstep the next morning via the national newspaper, draining the blood from my face with its grotesque headline.
Numbness. That is what I remember the most. I can barely recall boarding the train later that day. The voyage east is a blur of snow and the indistinct voices of the other passengers. Someone must have told me when it was time to get off, but I couldn't tell you who it might have been.
The train went no further than the last stop before my hometown. It was another fifty kilometers by foot and I didn't stop to consider the risks before buying provisions to stuff into my bag and continuing on.
It was cold but I don't remember feeling it. Guess I was still numb. I didn't even see the barricade the army had set up on the train tracks until I almost bumped into the guards eying my approach. They told me I could go no further, that there were still fires burning and I'd only get in the way of rescue efforts. That there was no way I could get any closer.
They obviously hadn't grown up in the area.
I backtracked until a bend in the tracks hid me from view, then set out cross-country. My food must have run out at some point, but there was plenty of snow for me to consume. The memory of climbing that final hill is crystal clear in my mind: the white puffs of breath that led me upward, the unnerving silence that had replaced the birdsong I knew so well as a child, the unpleasant smell that only grew stronger as I pushed for the peak.
I made it at last. I looked down. I must have.
But then everything goes black again.