Photo by AJITH S on Unsplash

We sat together in the ruins among pools of pinkish grey water and played board games into the night. Amidst the detonations, some chemical had been expelled into the streets, mixing with the rainwater and settling into bomb craters and the various concavities inherent to concrete laid over uneven ground, saturating the air with an unnatural, cloying sweetness vaguely reminiscent of strawberries. Half-buried under a fallen wall we found a game of Monopoly and squinted at the colorful paper money in the lamplight as we broke out the board and pieces.

A mosquito wandered into the lamp’s radius and I clapped and crushed it between my hands. I looked at the remains of it smeared out on my palm, which I wiped absently on my pant leg. I remembered then that it is exclusively life that is loathsome. Whatever barren landscape I imagine, nothing is loathsome there until life has found a place within it, and then all at once arise all manner of sickening predations and things that bloat and rot, or that separate upon violent force into wet and greasy folds of organ meat. All manner of contaminations are contingent upon organic matter; life contaminates life.

The bombs fall and shatter the floodgates of the chemical factories and shred the sinews of children. Together we are lashed to a machine made of boneshards knotted together with twine. The lamplight dims before anyone goes bankrupt or even builds a hotel.

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