by John Walters
In a transparent protective cocoon, twenty-four met to mourn the dying Earth. The bloated sun above them cast its pale red light on the charred landscape.
The invitation had been sent to members of all the outer colonies, but most had ignored it, or scorned it, or been unable to understand it.
The mourners came from many different worlds, and had adapted themselves to suit the environment in which they lived; no common ground could be found, therefore, until they agreed, in honor of the occasion, to assume classic human form, half of them female and half male.
â€œWhat requiem can we offer?â€ one said.
Many ideas were proposed.
â€œWe can close the Earth in sealant, protecting it for all eternity.â€
â€œBut look at what is left. Is it really worth preserving?â€
â€œWe can dance! We can create a multi-sensory display and each of us can perform a farewell ballet.â€
But several said that they did not know how to dance, nor did they desire to.
â€œWe can inject antimatter into the core, causing a tremendous explosion, and send copies of the event to all the outer colonies as memorials.â€
â€œBut such an action could be misinterpreted. It is one thing to allow the Earth to die; it is another to kill it ourselves.â€
â€œWe can commit suicide one by one, each in our own unique aesthetic manner, thus symbolizing the death of the Earth.â€
â€œBut we have not come here to end our lives, but only to offer our respect to the planet that gave birth to our ancestors.â€
They argued back and forth but could reach no agreement, until one of them who had decided to call herself Hileila said, â€œWe are missing the point. The importance of Earth to us is not the ball of matter itself, but the people who once called it their home. We have a database of everyone who has lived and died on this planet since records were kept. I propose that we slip through time and
find them one by one and show them appreciation by loving them.â€
â€œAll of them?
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"Painsharing" is roughly 1700 words.
John Walters is an American writer, a Clarion graduate, currently living in Greece with his Greek wife and five sons. To pay the bills he teaches English as a second language. He has had stories published in Talebones, Altair, Full Unit Hookup, and other magazines.