Working Chapter 1 of my Is it for us alone? novel in progress
Our One Man was not always alone even though he had forever thought of it as so. He had, since he could remember, lived on an island off of the coast of the western Swedish coast with his father. They dwelled in a standard Swedish coastal house made of wood, painted white with a green trim and orange clay tiles forming the roof. It was a modest building with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and an adjoining garage.
His father, not trusting the state run institutions, had decided he would school the boy himself and seeing as his mother was long gone, there was no one to stop him from running our One Man’s social skills into the ground, which consequently led to the most catastrophic event in the history of humankind. This is, undoubtedly, a harsh statement, as there most have been other factors involved. Though this is not really the situation in which to be so forgiving, because it surely contributed.
Either way, our One Man was homeschooled on his island by a father who was no genius, but was intent on tutoring his son in the sciences and unable to teach him in anything else. The school library was housed in a dozen Billy bookcases that were housed in the garage. Every day from sun up to sun down they would study physics and chemistry and biology in that little garage that served as library, classroom and laboratory. Before long our One Man had surpassed his father and was schooling himself.
It is at this point that our One Man began to have memories and forget all that came before. He was alone in his mind and he was largely oblivious to his father’s existence or anyone else’s. Of course, he could not remain oblivious forever. There are after all, over seven billion inhabitants on this rock we refer to as home, and our One Man would discover this in time.
His father continued to care for our One Man as best he could until he reached his deathbed. Our One Man could not handle some of the basic concepts of our society, such as paying bills and shopping for essentials. It was not that he was incapable of physically figuring out how to pay a bill or go shopping, but rather that he had never done so before – and yet he could cook and his clothes were not badly cared for. His father worried what his son would do after his death, and so, like any loving parent he prepared the house for our One Man’s years of solitude. This involved several well thought out element and required some time to prepare, but in the end our One Man’s father succeeded before finding his deathbed, or perhaps he held off his own demise in order to complete is lowly life task.
For a full year his father had begun to change our One Man’s diet by slowly introducing canned and other foods that weren’t easily perishable – our One Man was curious at first, but as it was still sustenance he didn’t care. His father thought our One Man’s indifference was due to how slyly he had introduced these new foods by repacking them to look like fresh and then slowly revealing their true nature. This was sweet to watch – the father believing his son truly needed him to survive – but sadly this was far from the truth.
Truth or not and fact had little bearing on the father’s actions leading up to his date with death at the hands of an undiagnosed disease, but his inner belief at least made his final moments of life feel worthwhile and his love for his child rendered the disease painless even though it was fatal. Our One Man had diagnosed his father’s disease, but had not mentioned it because he saw how busy he was with activity. He could have extended his father’s life by years if he had taken him to a hospital, but he only continued with his own experiments and studies – conscious of his father’s actions and physical state, yet oblivious to anything lying beneath the surface.
Perhaps in the end this act of coldness by our One Man was a kindness in disguise. You see, the disease could have been kept at bay for years, but it would have required significant medication inducing dizziness, nausea, fatigue and all sorts of other painful side effects. It was better for our One Man’s father to live out those final months with a purpose and the ability to fulfil that purpose. We can say with hindsight that things turned out for the best, but it brings a tear to eyes to think of it.
Now we reach the point where the old man is dead.
His corpse lays rigour in its bed untouched until the stench begins to catch the nose of our One Man. He has not spoken to his father directly in so many years that he did not notice he was gone or that anything in his environment had changed. All of the tragedy falls on the dead – all but one solitary weep and swelling of the eyes and speeding of the heart. Yes, our One Man has a heart, but it is trapped in a cage, suppressed by the mind and calmed by chemicals.
The funeral is in consequential and attended only by the son in his roles as undertaker and gravedigger.
The wake only a disinfecting of the father’s room and a coca-cola to quench the thirst brought on by physical labor.
Our One Man is alone – though as we said, he has in his mind always been so.