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PARK — a fiction
Buried a billion years deep in nucleotides
Your scream brought something out in me — something basic and substantial buried a billion years deep in nucleotides, in the eternal dance of guanine and cytidine. Humanity is nothing but a veneer in comparison. This immortal core has no personality. It has no self-awareness nor social anxiety. It is not interested in Facebook or Youtube. It has no opinion on Brexit.
It only knows fight and flight.
I have no idea how you will remember it. Maybe you will retain a sense of where we were, the thrill of the swing still fresh in your mind. Maybe the roundabout and the climbing frame will both be blotted from your self-history, erased in the terror of the moment. Maybe you will only remember how I held on to you, told you not to look, shielded you from the horrified gaze of the dog walkers and Sunday strollers.
I hope you will forgive me.
Your mother tells me I couldn’t have done anything else. You had no choice, she says. I wish I could have done the same, she admits.
But I barely hear her over the clack of the comment forums and direct messages.
You’re an animal.
Not fit to be a father.
She tells me you may not remember anything at all. Kids at that age, she says, they don’t develop long term memory until much later. He’ll just know that you were there for him when he needed you. You saved him. You know how scared he was. They should be calling you a hero.
But I can’t believe her. Not after seeing the way you looked up me then, the fear so vibrant in your eyes.
That instinctive core of us doesn’t have to think. There is no conscious awareness of action when it comes out — only a waking up into consequence. I only remember up until the bark and the growl and turning to where you had been walking behind me. And then nothing. Nothing until the ache in my hands brought me back to reality. Nothing until I felt the stare of their iPhones upon me. Nothing until I saw you sitting with mud on your coat, your bobble hat caught in your hood, the echo of your cry fading in my head — your voice silenced by my sudden movement, by my unexpected retaliation replayed by a half million hits online, and the dead dog twisted at your feet.