She crossed over gravel with light steps. Her soft-soled shoes making gentle crunching noises. Nothing loud enough to disturb the animals. A line of sparrows in a windowsill tilted their heads with a twitch, watching her. A squirrel, munching on a walnut paused, looked up, and went back to eating. The bow began to slip down her back into an uncomfortable position. She adjusted it. Being in the city felt heavy. Best to keep the mind busy. Watch the animals, count bricks with moss in a wall, keep her eyes scanning for deer. If her thoughts drifted to the city, to the feeling it gave, it began to hurt. The city or the feeling? She wasn’t sure.
Empty except for the animals and her. Slowly being taken over. Plant life could be seen everywhere. Flowers growing through cracks in the road. Trees bursting through walls. Moss covered cars. The result of no humans for almost two decades. Left unchecked, nature did as it wished. There was a kind of beauty to the process. Seeing so much life bring about such decay. Did the animals and insects like it better this way? Did they care? Did they even notice?
On the ground floor of a large building there were pictures. Taken from the scene of something bad. A car accident. Why would someone have taken pictures of that? And why display them? People that lived before The Fall confused her. Technically she’d lived before The Fall as well. She’d been three when it happened. Thanks to a camping trip she’d lived. The same could not be said of the rest of her island country. Japan—like the rest of the world—saw devastation on a scale only imagined in nightmares. Now the world, what remained, was wide awake and living in the aftermath of that catastrophic event.
Things from the old world, like these pictures, filled her mind with wonder. Who took them? Why? What were they thinking? And what of the people in the pictures, what did they think of someone snapping away? Surely they couldn’t have imagined such a turn of events. Maybe it was one mistake: an exit missed, a lane changed too fast, a drink before driving, eyes off the road to switch the music. A moment later, their life turned upside-down. Now, years later, a totally different world, and she was looking at pictures of what had happened.
Outside, walking down a brick road, birds singing, her skin sticky in the humid air. Eyes still scanning for deer. Thoughts unfold. Was The Fall the result of one mistake? Is any mistake isolated? She was glad to be aboard the interesting train of thought. It kept her busy, kept her thinking. And thinking meant the city didn’t hurt, didn’t feel so heavy.