"We'll be gone sooner than you think, and before you know it, even the hard lines of our memory will begin to blur. Life happens, Hemingway, and that's how it goes. I hope that your mother wakes up again before I'm gone, though, because I've just remembered something that I'd meant to tell her some years ago, even before you were born," he stopped for a moment. "Which is to say that you should always say what you think and tell people how you feel before it's too late. How were we supposed to know that the factory would get hit?"
He was referencing how they'd ended up where they were, injured and with little hope of recovery.
Shifts had picked up once they'd converted dad's factory over to munitions production. The plant was running around the clock, and since rations tickets were never enough for the four of us - especially after they'd been hit with the second child taxation when Peyton came along - dad had started working longer hours.
Was it their anniversary? For some reason, mother had decided to meet him after one of his long days and accompany him on his commute home. The tram that they boarded was attacked in an airstrike on the factory by the skyships as it left the station, and my parents were some of the few that had survived. At least, they'd made it a little longer than the rest. The factory was basically erased from the map, of course. Maybe there's still a crater where it stood. Maybe they've rebuilt another factory, or a school, or a produce greenhouse in it's place. In all the long years since that day, I've never been there; I've never even looked into what became of it.
Does some blast crater serve as a memorial spot, marking where my childhood was dealt the final killing blow? Which bomb was it that propelled me permanently into the life that I wasn't ready for, but had to be, for the sake of my young brother, for the sake of the word I gave to my dying father, for the sake of what, in my naivety, I believed to be honor? Did it begin with the first sightings of the skyships? Did it begin long before, when my father bumped into my mother in a campus bar, or at a library, or at an intersection in town?
Or maybe it happened months later, when Peyton, near sleep, looked up at me as I tucked him into bed one night, and said "Goodnight, mom," and I wept as I corrected him, knowing that he'd already forgotten, that his hard lines of memory had never even solidified into something substantial enough to reflect upon. Perhaps it was hours after that, as I finally drifted into my own still and silent sleep after the uncontrollable grief had wracked my body into exhaustion - the first and final time that I mourned the death of my parents - that I laid my own innocence in its grave, resigned to and knowing that I could never go back.
Everything is connected, infinitely. Perpetually.