Paint Me A Rainbow (PART 2)

He stands before the plot of land that had once been dedicated to a park; Theora Park, to be exact. He knew that park well. He had grown up on the rusty swings, relishing the short flight through the air each time he jumped. Those swings are gone now; reduced to a pile of melted, twisted metal taking on demonic, foreboding shapes.
He closes his eyes, imagining the large plastic and metal structure that towered above his head. He remembered calling it a “secret base” when he used to play with the neighborhood kids. He remembered the thick ropes and narrow ladders they used to climb to the top. He even remembered the way the roof curved halfway up, to prevent kids like him from climbing too high. He had ignored that, of course, and nearly fell off several times. He didn’t stop climbing until Elyza started following him around. He had wanted to be a good brother, to set the right example for her…
His eyes open.
He could almost see Elyza meandering around the empty lot, searching for the park she had grown up in. She turned around and faced him. Her sad eyes were full of questions. Loneliness was written on her face. She longed to play in the colorful structures she’d always loved. She yearned for her favorite place.
Yes, this would be the first thing he would rebuild.
“Escahera fildronsa. [Enchanted broom.]” he whispered three times under his breath, placing his fingers together and turning his feet inwards. He stomped twice with his right foot, then opened his eyes. Three large brooms appeared before him, which seemed to be suspended above the ground by invisible strings. The enchantment was engraved into the thick mahogany handle of each broom, reaching from the rounded tip to the start of the thick bristles.
With a few flicks of his blackened fingers, he sent each of them to a corner of the “park.” There they waited for his next command with patience, as though they were sentient beings at the mercy of their master. A stomp from his left foot sent them moving, each one heading in a different direction.
They swept the rubble on the ground into one large pile within minutes. The mound stood in the middle of the lot, shimmering slightly in the morning sun’s heat.
He clapped his hands twice, chanting “Trestenka Orwe! [Black hole]” and a large pit appeared beneath the accumulation, swallowing it and the brooms up in less than a second. Then the hole closed on its own, disappearing as quickly as it had appeared.
He closed his eyes and imagined the layout of the park. He saw the large swings and the play structure with the two slides. He saw the little merry-go-round and the seahorse seated on a spring.
Whispering a short flurry of syllables under his breath while tapping his right foot on the ground, he made each item appear in the place they used to be.
It didn’t take much effort for an alchemist of his level. If he hadn’t been poisoned with an incurable disease, he would have been drafted into the growing army months ago. But alas, he wouldn’t be in this warring world much longer.
He opened his eyes and saw the white shapes his spells had created. They stood out in stark contrast against the greys and blacks that stained the rest of the area.
Sighing softly, he turned his back on the park. He walked towards the main road that connected the park to the convenience store they would always stop at after playing.
The little blue shop had been completely destroyed in the explosion. He briefly thought of the kind old man who had owned the store before lowering his eyes to the ground.
More bone fragments lay within the rubble, confirming his suspicions about the bomb. It had been one specially calibrated to destroy people–the buildings were unintentional casualties.
He was transported back to his living room, where he sat on the couch in front of the television. The newscaster was explaining the invention of these terrible bombs to the public, and urging them not to panic, despite looking quite alarmed with his sweaty face and wide brown eyes.
“The bomb cannot penetrate through the ground, researchers say.” the man with the stubble on his chubby chin reported in a shaky voice. “If a warning is issued, all residents are advised to hide in underground shelters. There you will be safe.” he assured the audience with a hesitant nod and a forced smile.
The newscaster and television slowly disappear from his mind’s eye. He remembers scoffing at the advice, foolishly believing that a small town like his would never be affected by threats of war.
He was wrong; dead wrong. He knew that all too well now.
The convenience store reappeared as he whispered “Sefronch’i [Store].” and stomped his foot. It looked exactly the same on the outside as it had before the bombing, with the exception of the color. There was none; the walls, doors; even the three windows were completely white.
He stared at it for a moment, imagining his sister standing in front of the door, waiting for him before heading inside. He turned away.
He had rebuilt half of the houses by the time the sun had started setting slowly on the horizon. Its dying rays painted the sky, providing the only color in the black and white town. They bounced off the blank walls of the houses down the street, tinting them orange.
He let his hands drop to his sides after completing one final spell. He turned his attention away from the house at the end of the street and looked up at the sky. He gazed at the beautiful colors in the same awe Elyza displayed every evening when she sat on the wide windowsill in the living room. Sunset was her favorite time of day.
She would have loved to see this one. She would have beamed delightedly at the way the gorgeous orange rays lit up the colorless houses. She would have pointed at the patterns they made on the windows and said “Look Eoin! Isn’t it beautiful?” She would have looked up at him with bright, twinkling eyes.
If only she could see it. If only she were here, instead of him.
He leans against the nearest wall and lets himself slide down, resting his heavy head in his knees as the tears finally came back. They soaked through the thin, worn fabric of his jeans. The cold wind blew through his crimson hair, lifting it off his head then letting it settle back down. He hated that sensation, but lacked the energy to do anything about it. He felt completely drained.
He breathed in the dusty air through loud, painful sobs occasionally interrupted by coughs. Despair weighed him down. It sat on his chest and wrapped its hands around his throat. It’s cold voice whispered into his ears, telling him everything he already knew.
“You broke your promise.”
“You left her here.”
“You let her die.”
“This is your fault.”
“You’re a terrible brother.”
“You should have died, not her.”
He didn’t have the will to argue. He knew the voice was right. He did break his promise. He left her here. He let her die. It’s all his fault. He is a terrible brother. He should be dead.
He wrapped his shaking arms around his knees, hugging them closer to his chest. Everything he had done today was a feeble attempt at making amends, but he knew he could never be forgiven, not by her, not by this world, and certainly not by himself. Forgiveness lay in another dimension, run over by the taxicab he’d drove off in.
He fell asleep in that uncomfortable position with tears as his pillow and sobs as his lullaby.


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