This chapter is in celebration of CitizenErased14’s Dust to Dust, which will be concluding in the near future with the posting of the epilogue. If you haven’t yet read this masterful work of literature, I recommend it! And if you binge-read it , like the Boughs did, you might still have a chance to finish before the epilogue is posted, which will allow you to participate in our big “It’s Done!” party on the forums!
Congratulations, Citizen, on writing a classic, and thank you for sharing it with us!
After her old friend Aleksey passed on, while Grim’s presence lingered, Red sought consolation in her favorite source of comfort: literature.
She discovered a novel online, Citizen Erased’s Dust to Dust, which touched upon all the themes most relevant to her at this time: mortality, immortality, the daily world, and the beyond. She felt her pain heal with every word she read, and as she reached Chapter 100, her heart felt bright again.
This story was the thing! She felt so excited that she bought tablets for every member of the family, and she encouraged them to read the whole work that very night, before dawn!
J.P.’s imagination was caught by the contrast between the ideal of romance and the reality of love.
Cypress was intrigued by the description of herbalism. Plus, the landscapes in the photos were so beautiful! Were there really places with such tall trees?
Sugar pondered the responsibilities that come with cheating death, Nathanael was drawn to the poignancy of a ghostly lover, and onezero fell entranced by the rhythm of the words.
For Alder, whose life bar has been sparkling for such a long time now, the description of the world beyond sounded like a siren’s song which he felt he might not resist much longer.
And for Tomas, the story touched a raw nerve.
It came a little too close to home, he thought.
Before she headed into school, Cypress found her mom in the kitchen.
“Thanks for the tablet, Mom! I really loved that story!”
“I’m so glad you liked it!” said her mom. “What was your favorite part?”
“I like the camping trip!” Cypress said. “Do you think there really are places like that with tall trees? I’d love to see them!”
When, Tomas joined them, he was still feeling a little shook up.
“I’m glad I read it,” he said. “It’s really good. It brings up a lot for me, though. A lot of feelings.”
“I know,” Red said.
“I guess I’m still shook up over Aleksey,” he said. “I know I visit the tombstones every day, but it’s just different when it’s someone in my generation.”
onezero was enthusiastic.
“It describes everything I know in my heart,” she exclaimed. “All the songs I’ve heard for all my life! The thrum from this planet and the buzz from my home! All the mysteries about how we connect through time with each other and with the current of energy that is who we are, with or without form!”
“Plus, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it!”
“What do you see as the moral, onez?” Tomas asked.
“Kindness? Isn’t that what everything comes down to?”
“I’m not so sure,” Tomas said. “The story’s not really about a moral, Dad. I mean, sure. We can learn from it. But it’s art. It’s got all these layers and images and symbols.”
Redbud perked up. She enjoys few activities more than literary analysis.
“What really intrigued me was the dichotomy between the illusion of romantic love in the person’s fantasy and the reality of the ways that actual love plays out in the day-to-day living in the real world.”
“But, J.P.,” Redbud interjected. “Don’t you think that the two–the romantic ideal of love and the daily expression of love–can sometimes be joined?”
“Like you and me, right, babe?” Tomas said.
“This is not a love story,” Alder said. “Well, o.k. It is. I’ll admit it. But that’s not what held my attention.”
“I like the description of the beyond,” he continued. “It’s a world of peace, free of pain, free from discord. Meadows, flowers, grasses. Beauty as far as the eye can see. No more struggle.”
“Sure,” said Sugar. “It’s about that, but it’s about more. It’s about that part of us that’s eternal, that never ends, that never stops loving, that continues on even when we change form.”
The conversation continued all through the school day, and while Cypress was studying chemistry, trigonometry, and world history, her family lingered in the kitchen, sharing plot details, insights, analysis, reactions, responses, and feelings. Each member of the family had been touched by this novel. It had reached inside each of them and strummed chords waiting to be heard.
What joy, Red reflected, for a bookworm to find a work of literature that joined together her entire family in conversation, that helped them share this day of talking, laughing, and expressing feelings and insights!
It seemed significant to Sugar that they’d be reading this work now, at this stage in their own family’s history, when the themes of moving on and staying and the question of how to live fully were so alive to each of them.
Tomas found his way through the tangle of emotions that the story brought up for him. He might not stay to see the end of the legacy, and he was slowly, in his own way, making peace with that. It helped to know that Red would have her father, their children, and her aunts there with her. She would not be alone. And if Sugar and onezero were right, it would not be the end of him, this great transition. It would just mean moving into a different form. Wasn’t that what this novel had been about, too?
Sugar and Nathanael shared a wordless moment. And Sugar saw, in Nathanael’s soft eyes, the tender look of acceptance. It is the one true pathway to wisdom.
The doors of the school bus opened with a squeak, and Cypress raced in to join the family. She’d been thinking about the novel the entire ride home, and she couldn’t wait to share her discovery with them.
“It’s about love!” she said. “What it is, what it isn’t, and what it can do! And it can do anything.”
Thank you, CitizenErased14, for writing this work of literature that touches all of us.