I don’t understand why they do this, and I hear they do it every year.
The people will gather around their televisions and become transfixed by the images on the screens, images that were already seared into their memories years ago, and yet for some reason they still feel the need to keep on watching.
Myself, I am horrified by this practice, and doubly horrified by what they choose to see with their eyes and hear over and over again with their little ears. Explosions and screams and gasps and cries.
They will watch, rapt, one building burn for fifteen minutes. They will not take their eyes off of the screen because they know that the next building is about to be burning, too.
Their eyes will widen and their jaws will drop as they get to see more details of the building, like those things that keep falling from the top. Office chairs, some people might think at first. Or someone threw their coat out of the window, but how silly is that? Why would someone throw a coat, or even a chair out of a burning building?
They wouldn’t. A person would throw themselves out of a burning building apparently, and they do. Hundreds of them.
And that is what keeps people watching. Most of those people won’t admit it, you see. Most of those people watching over and over will tell themselves and anyone else that they watch it to remember. They watch it to honor the dead and those who went to war for their country, they watch it as a reminder of what happens when peace is abandoned between nations, they watch it and say, “We will never forget.”
But I know what they are watching. They are watching those people, fluttering to the ground, their limbs dancing on the air as they fall, weightless as feathers, heavy as granite.
They are watching with horror and they are watching with wonder. Wondering, is that cowardice or bravery? Would I be the one turning inside to face the fire, or would I be the one reaching outwards, moving forward until the very last breath in this life?
They are human, you see. They know not what they do. They are a bundle of tissue and nerves pumping blood and air, with these thoughts in their brains, these thoughts that they can’t keep asking themselves, even while they understand, deeply, that the answers are never for them to know.
But we know. And we can watch them and smile for them, and embrace them once they’ve completed their journey through that beautiful September sky.
For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Diane at http://theschmorgasboard.com gave me this prompt: If aliens exist, and they see what we watch on television, what must they think of us?
I gave Eric Storch at http://sinistralscribblings.com this prompt: Use the word “defenestrate” in your response.