January 22

Birthday of English Romantic Poet, Lord Byron

 

Emmett tried to view himself as a Byronic hero:  a brooding, intelligent man who defied conventional morality.

An unspeakable crime separated him from the rest of humanity.  The very idea of his crime was horrible enough; to commit it to action condemned him to an eternity of guilt and solitude.

His crime was enough to make God destroy the world.

Like the hero of Byron’s Manfred, he summoned seven spirits, pleading for them to help him forget his crime.  Unlike in Manfred, the spirits never materialized.  However, they granted Emmett’s wish.

He can’t remember what he did.

As he walks through smoking ruins, each withered plant decries his foul deed.  The carcass of a Holstein cow condemns him with its spilled entrails.  Ashen shadows with human shapes pantomime his shame on crumbling walls.

To be the only living thing on this dead earth should be a testament to his greatness.  But survival is not the gift he would have expected.  Hunger and remorse eat away at him.  Despite the relief of forgetfulness, Emmett can’t help picking at fleeting memories, seeking a name for his transgression.

To be the only living thing on this dead earth, he must have done something awful.

He must have.