September 4th, 2011
Remember Google+??? I remember wasting half a day at work, sneaking between open browser pages, looking up for a way to get invited. I eventually got an invite from my best friend and again spent half a day at work building it up.
So much fun, like being asked to spruce up an entire empty floor of some building with your, well, crap. Of course it was crap. What else could it possibly be, just a bunch of cutesy posed pictures (made up some faces on my Mac and edited out my jowl lines, my tired, baggy computer screen scarred eyes) random video links (wohoo! Hollywood Tuna) and ephemeral flotsam and jetsam. Just the digitized short-hand really of the generation.
A generation that's gone and disappeared.
And I certainly played well into the night when I got home. It was Cindy's mother's birthday and I had a very handy and dignified excuse- who the hell got drunk on a Monday???? I loaded a box of lemon-cheesecake cupcakes that my daughter Chloe baked for her grand-nana into Cindy's battered Holden.
'Put real lemon there dad, like they did on Top Chef.' Chloe just turned 9 and was trying to run away from her childhood faster than her stints at her school's cross-country races. "I'm sure your grand-nana would appreciate the lemon better on her gin and tonic sweetie..'
'Oh dad!' Mock adult disgust and falling over me for a kiss, her lips bitingly cold on my cheek. 'Where's your jacket hun, it's gonna get real cold.' And out of nowhere, she whips out my worn leather bomber jacket which she puts over some top and leggings on semi-adult legs. And it's my turn for mock-anger, 'oi!' I grunt before Cindy steps in as she's wont to, the only true time it seems for genuine affection, lightning quick snatches of it, before everything falls into the abyss of second mortgages, an immature job as she has always called it and too much Facebook instead of getting our freaks on.
Like can we do it now, right here on the driveway as she sidles up to me, locking her hips against mine, my hands settling comfortably on the rise of her buttocks.
'Yeah, tell Elaine you're down with the flu, really down with it' I bite her lower lip gently and she bites back, her face a blur, the scent of something richly sweet like dark chocolate on her breath.
'Uhmm..when we come back, promise...promise..'
Those were my wife's last words to me.
They pause down the driveway just before plunging into the darkened street as a light, misty rain falls. The car's interior light opens and I see Chloe, rummaging for her stuff at the back as usual. She tries to see me through the window, squeezes her eyes into slits, probably couldn't but waves nonetheless at what she believes to be her father still watching her drive away.
I was and it is the last and most painful memory of my daughter.
How it happened, I really don't know. There was no rumbling, no fireworks in the sky, no choir of angels announcing the ascension of the blessed and the eternal isolation of the damned.
I went back to my Google + account and thought, what a refreshing change. Empty; just me and digital quietude. I puttered around in the kitchen, made chapati and cumin meatballs in a Japanese curry sauce.
I think it was about 10:30 pm but I'm just guessing. I remember looking out the lounge sliding doors, through the smear of condensation and the fog outside. The street lamp just outside the gate was on and it looked to me 'sadly luminous'. I remember that description, sadly luminous and I did feel, like a sudden cascade of cold water had fallen over me and a seemingly infinite, weepy sort of sadness.
And the funny thing was that I never did know what I was sad about at that moment....
(he sends a text message that remains unsent, sitting in his draftbox. There is no mobile service, just a slight, unnerving humming at the end of the line. Television services stop at 3am, radio follows soon after. And yet there is still power even as public lights burn on throughout the day and night. The internet still functions to some degree and when he checks for some clues online, one thing is chillingly clear- status updates on Facebook have ceased just before 10:30pm, GMT. He doesn't sleep for 48 hours straight and walks all the way to his mother in law's house in the suburb of St. Heliers, marveling at a cityscape captured frozen in its tracks even as the day rolls by. Cars are packed at Elaine's expansive driveway. Inside Cindy's Holden is his bomber jacket and he cries and cries clutching it, because it smells of him and not of Chloe..)