Pioneer

by Robin Wyatt Dunn


Jacob

I knew you once, long ago. When we crossed a galaxy together. Your death was the death of a star — only one among a billion, but a huge fire.

I am a screamer: I do it in public. Since you died, I haven’t been able to stop. I am known here, so perhaps it is no matter. What else could keep me sane? I want to burn the whole world. I want my neighbors damned, the ocean poisoned.

“Give it to us nicely then!” my neighbor Brian will shout back some morning, and I grin at him like a lunatic, tears in my eyes. What use is memory, if all it does is make you scream until it fades? Is there another use for it? Every government is its enemy, every employer.

I have settled in Ireland, where they have a rich tradition of tolerating lunatics, having known many of them. But it is too green for me, because your eyes were green.

Alex

He was a dreamer — why else would I have followed him across a hundred thousand light years? Only dreamers make such journeys. I was a reasonably good Catholic in life — if this is heaven, it doesn’t much resemble what I recited in catechism. Jacob, why must you always burn ten times more brightly than others? You’ll have an aneurysm. Find a good woman, calmer than I was. I would have you be boring in your golden years. I will keep your excitements safe.

Jacob

Was the distance in her eyes, or out in space? They say it is the deep feelings that unite us: but in their expression, I am outsider. No one else screams in others’ faces every week, to demand blows, execrations, casting out.

The word pioneer has its root in the word pawn: the foot soldier who goes first. And pawn has its root in the simple pedo, foot. Why must we praise the madmen like me who sought novelty and adventure only to earn madness, making them into heroes for historians?

The just thing would be to forget that we ever were. Especially if we come back.


Copyright © 2013 by Robin Wyatt Dunn

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