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Arcopitcairn
November 2nd, 2014, 02:21 PM
The Last One


There had been no priests left alive to marry them. There was no one to wish them well, no families or friends to throw rice. But they were married in their hearts. They had real love. Marcy buried her husband yesterday. She'd passed out twice, during. But she finally did it, even though her heart felt like it was going to explode, she managed to put him in the ground. There was no one left to bury her.


She had no idea why everyone was dying. Maybe she knew once.


It had been years since she and her husband had seen another living person, and even that man was almost dead. The couple took him in and cared for him. They listened to the spindly old fellow, heard about his life before, his stories. They listened to tales of love and war. Then they buried him when he passed. And that was all. No more people after that. They thought, or at least they felt like they were the last two human beings on the planet. Maybe they were?


They caught each other staring, lovingly and sadly sometimes.


Their final days were spent eating favorite foods, smoking, drinking, and making love. They made sure to watch the sun as it rose and set, marveled at the stars, hearts greedy for every final beauty, any last awe. They read to each other, releasing the words into the air, artful flights of humanity's literature spoken into whispers, desperate to prove the passages were there, to place them in time and space one more time. These works were the best legacy of mankind. Not monuments. Not buildings or cars. Not a flag on the Moon. Would Keats or Hemingway ever be uttered again?


Their isolated house, surrounded by woods, shuddered with the booms and clashes of Bach and Beethoven. They left the windows open and they walked slowly out through the trees. They held each other as they lay in a small clearing, staring at the fat clouds. Even a mile away from their house, the music could be heard drifting on the breeze. The tall grass swayed, and Marcy whispered forever promises in her husband's ear. He died then, in her arms, and she buried him there, the shovel his only marker. He would not have cared.


It was dusk and Marcy sat on the porch. She was in her favorite chair and she rocked gently back and forth, a shawl pulled around her shoulders. The wind blew cool in the spreading shadows. She looked through the endless maze of trees and darkness loomed in the distance, peering around the trunks, creeping closer. She rested her head, her eyes focusing in on the ghostly blue moon just beginning its ascent, chasing the sun away. This would be the last time the world turned for her. She could feel a winding down inside, a surrender. There was no pain. There was a tender inevitability. Velvety wisps of life spiraled out of her, carried on her shortening breaths.


She almost cried for herself then, and for everyone else, too. But she did not. Humanity had a time, and it was over. She thought maybe it was just exactly the way it was supposed to be. She wondered if some other animal might evolve in a million years, start a new society? What would they think of the evidence of man left behind? Does anyone really love hieroglyphs? Did she ever spend her time listening to hours of ancient chants or pounding jungle drums? No, the new people, or whatever they will be, they'll write new poetry, new symphonies, rightly ignoring the archaic missives of mankind. And that's the way it should happen. She would do that, too.


There was a brief moment of panic when her body stopped breathing. But she smiled slightly and accepted it. She was darkening, and there would be sleep. In the seconds before Marcy died, her mind spun and grasped at everything that had been important, her mother, the sky, dogs, home, paintings, the summer breeze, the pristine snow...the light and the dark...


Her husband would have loved her just the same, even if she hadn't been the last woman on earth. That was her final thought. And Marcy smiled one more time before the end.

LeeC
November 2nd, 2014, 03:39 PM
A well written evocative tale, respectively done :-)

Some might suggest bringing out the characters more, but here I think the characters are meant more as a personification of humankind's passing than a scene to get into. Layered within, our accomplishments and values only important to ourselves, our feelings not diminished by such.

In a second read, I noticed where I might have tightened it up a little (strictly personal taste), dropping a few words/phrases, but such might step up the pace letting the reader move on without grasping the depth. I'm not a good enough writer to really know either way.

No nits that I noticed, but then I'm not good at picking up such when a piece has substance.

In any case it's very insightful, and conveyed well :-)

I appreciate having read it,
LeeC

jenthepen
November 2nd, 2014, 04:49 PM
This is a beautifully poignant study of the thoughts and feelings of a person - the last person - who has accepted and embraced the inevitability of her death.

I liked the controlled and understated style of this piece, especially considering the subject matter which is more usually presented as a doomsday, horror scenario. By writing it this way, the sadness and scale of loss is actually accentuated.

I thought the pace and tone of the story was perfect and I was captivated by it from the start. Only one tiny word choice issue that I noticed – ‘as they laid in a small clearing’ should be ‘as they lay in a small clearing’ but the two verbs lie and lay are so easy to confuse that I doubt this matters very much.

A really good story, enjoyed it a lot.
Jen.

Mistique
November 2nd, 2014, 04:51 PM
Very beautifully written. I enjoyed it a lot.

It reminds me a little (only a little) of the 'Brief history of the dead' It's a story that jumps back and forth between earth (where a deadly virus has been set free) and the city of the dead. This is a place where people go when they have died, but are still remembered by the living. When the last person who remembers then dies, they dissapear from the city of dead. Towards the end of the book the city of the dead gets smaller and smaller as there are almost no people left on earth alive.

Arcopitcairn
November 2nd, 2014, 05:21 PM
I thought the pace and tone of the story was perfect and I was captivated by it from the start. Only one tiny word choice issue that I noticed – ‘as they laid in a small clearing’ should be ‘as they lay in a small clearing’ but the two verbs lie and lay are so easy to confuse that I doubt this matters very much.

A really good story, enjoyed it a lot.
Jen.

Changed laid to lay. That one always messes me up. Thanks for checking it out! Glad you liked it :)

apple
November 2nd, 2014, 05:51 PM
Arcopitcairn, what a piece! I was so drawn in to your peaceful, beautiful writing. That loving gathering of the beauty and goodness in our world. To dwell on that in our last breath has to be what heaven is all about. Thank you for reminding me. Very good work.

DanCaetta
November 2nd, 2014, 09:10 PM
Good Stuff. This was the first thing I read when I woke up, and I enjoyed it! Adding the part about the new society, new symphonies etc, was a great touch. Two things, which are purely preferential to myself:

The line, She had no idea why everyone was dying​, is implied throughout the entire story. It struck me odd and slightly out of place. The reader can pick up on that in the first paragraph, and if not, certainly will through the main character's emotive thoughts.

her mind spun and grasped at everything that had been important, her mother... You mention her mother firstly as important, but she is not mentioned anywhere in the story. It seemed out of place to add new elements at the very end of the story.

Pointless thought but, I kept thinking throughout.....How are they listening to Bach etc when the electricity has obviously been turned off?????? It's a moot point, kinda like analyzing the timeline of Dr. Who.

Thanks for the read man!!!

Jean Bathurst
November 4th, 2014, 03:38 PM
Loved it!