Blonde. Blue-eyed. Hair down to the waist. Five nine, rosy-cheeked, more self-conscious about her body than people twice her weight. She loved Bach, Snow Patrol and truly repulsive neon dance anthems, lobsters, lemon meringue, the Clangers and Super Mario. On weekends she went fishing with her dad and hill-walking with her mum. She had more insane siblings and cousins than I could count and she loved them all.

She wore huge coats with useful things in every pocket. Where most people spend their whole lives walking around looking at the ground, she was always looking upwards, pointing at things I could have walked underneath a thousand times and not seen - gargoyles, hot air balloons, robins nesting in a frisbee in a gutter. She was never not reading. And at the core she was a scientist, a physicist with the drive to understand everything even if it had to be done one atom at a time; by the end of it, she knew more about me than I did.

It was my fault. I could have saved her if I'd changed my mind a second earlier.

Twenty-seven cumulative years of experience and knowledge, grown like an infinite complex fractal and then torn out and burnt like cheap notepaper. All that's left is the shell she just inhabited for a while, which never had anything to do with who she really was. They won't switch off her life-support; everything that was Josephine Baird is dead and there won't be a funeral for fifty years.

You say information can be destroyed. I say that everything worth staying for has been destroyed. You have to send me home, Ching. I've never hated this microbe universe more.

 

< this was supposed to be a parable about the power of the imagination | Fine Structure | Mike Murphy >


BrevityQuest09

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