Sophie emailed me the following essay at 12:11 a.m. this morning:
The city lay in silence, devoid of the sounds of traffic and airplanes and pedestrians going about their daily business. Already, it was becoming overrun with vines and weeds, taking advantage of the lack of trimming and manicuring. The sun lazily crossed over the sky, taking its time getting to the horizon. In a final display of showers of gold and lavender, the sun sank behind the distant mountain and the world darkened.
Somewhere, a shed door behind a dilapidated apartment complex creaked open. It swung wide, hinges squealing to a stop. For a second, nothing happened. Then there was a disturbance in the darkness beyond the door. A hulking form, no more than four feet tall, lumbered out of the inky depths, each step thudding softly in the quiet city. Painstakingly, the creature made its way to a main road. A curious, sibilant dragging sound accompanied each step. Each step seemed a tremendous labor, yet the figure persevered. At last, it heaved itself onto the open road, the rays of the moon throwing its features into sharp relief.
The city itself seemed to cringe away. Sores and open wounds covered the slimy, deathly pale skin that was stretched so tightly. The legs were disproportionately long and thin; the tendons in the feet clearly visible through the translucent skin, and the toes were long, curled, and misshapen. The creature crouched, shoulders hunched and drawn up. The spinal cord protruded so far through the skin that the ridges of the vertebrae stuck out. The arm appendages trailed between the legs, jointed irregularly and hanging at odd angles. The chest cavity was sunken beyond belief, asymmetrical bone structure clearly visible.
Perhaps worst of all was the creature’s head. Patches of shiny scalp were visible through the random clumps of long, greasy hair. The eyes were a milky white, drawn back into the eye sockets and covered in a filmy web. The nose was flattened and scarred, visibly useless. The mouth gaped wide, any saliva dried up long ago. Any sign of a tongue or teeth had disappeared with the saliva. Each breath caused the creature’s entire body to heave violently.
Only a few months before, the city had been a bustling center of commerce. The news of phosphorus’s disappearance hadn’t seemed like a very big deal to the citizens…for a while. Then, people started realizing how many things were affected by this substance. Matches were now completely nonfunctional. Fertilizers were also useless without phosphorus. These two things alone made a major impact on the lives of the citizens. Toothpaste was also less effective without the addition of phosphorus. Scientists looked more into phosphorus’s uses. A shock wave rippled through the world: Phosphorus was a major component in DNA, nervous tissues, bones, and our cells. Everyone asked the big question- what happens now? Within days, their question was answered.
Literally, the bodies of the entire world’s population began to deteriorate. People complained of feeling sick more and more often, which continued for a few weeks. Then, physical effects began to appear. Sloped backs, elongated limbs, jutting facial features… no one could understand what was going on. This continued for a few more weeks until exactly two months after the disappearance of phosphorus was logged. That was the day the human race devolved into something never seen before on the face of this earth.
The creature moaned as though the moonlight stung its skin. It shifted on its feet, trying to stand up and extend its legs. It struggled to no avail. Without warning, the creature threw back its emaciated head and screamed--a scratchy, raw abomination that echoed off the buildings, forever rebounding until at last, the sound faded away.
I'm guessing her assignment was to describe what would happen to the world if there was no phosphorus...?
Not give me nightmares for the rest of my life.
But here is why it made me happy:
Sophie leaves the house each morning by 5:30 a.m. in order to attend early morning seminary. After school she practices with her volleyball team until 4:30 p.m. She usually has two evening games each week, a church youth activity, and the occasional student council meeting (which dropped sharply since the insanity known as homecoming has passed). She's also a strong student who takes her schoolwork seriously.
She is quite a busy girl.
I often hear mums describe themselves as loving the newborn stage, loving the elementary school age, or enjoying motherhood more once their children got to be more mature. I'm not really sure what stage I prefer...it seems I've enjoyed them all and felt my love grow and change as my girls grow and change.
Nothing seems better than the stage we are in now. Sophie is fascinating, independent, no longer as much a direct reflection of my influence but revealing more of her individual nature with each passing day. This growth, in addition to her crazy schedule, sometimes makes me feel as if my little girl with the big brown eyes has, by necessity, left me in the dust. Or like a toy plane, she once circled me in tight rotations but is now soaring high overhead in wide, vanishing arcs.
And though I wouldn't have it any other way, the thought is also a pang to my heart.
But the fact she took the time to send me her essay when she must have been so tired she could hardly keep her eyes open, the fact she knew how I would delight in its creepy, visceral descriptions and perfect arrangement of words, the fact I had to look up the definition of sibilant...those facts are like a balm to my heart.
No matter how far or high that girl goes, we are connected in ways that will always make us feel close.