This was written in response to an execution scene in Everything is Illuminated; which is the best film I have seen in a long time.
There’s nothing like thinking pointedly about death to make you want to feel alive.
From this angle the gun’s barrel is long and tapers to its lacunal mouth where in a moment a fire will be lit and a blast will sound that my ears will never hear and whatever it is that I am will cease to be.
This moment, as my executioner waits for the command to end me, is empty and overflowing.
My childhood first. Might they, my mother and my father, have seen this in my days? Could this evening have entered into their most fearful speculations? I remember sunshine and everything tall; but defined by its repetition, this vision is soon to be darkened. I think of these things now and I will never think of them again. I whispering, hallow them before my predestined bullet finds its resting place.
And then my youth. Again my parents but now there are other faces to be recalled. My friends and their consolation. The hope they spoke of, the wide yawning roads across the land. And the shadow that descended over my face, the feverish nights of pantomime and tearing. Life so of the moment that future and past were as dreams, the perfect negative to my present mind. There my fear was always of infinity, but here - here is the most finite of all possible times. Here I desire the very thing that once drove me to the source of my present longing. The finite and the infinite and the being and the non-being. However I steel myself these minutes have no care.
By now I see the turning - the reiteration of the traditions of the executed. I know what I am to think: doors I left unlocked, lights I left on, machines I left running as they dragged me away to this pale moonset. So many worries and concerns from which I will now be set free; in these quickly declining minutes I see what it is to live without a future. I think of what was and try to forget what is and know beyond doubt what will be.
What might have been - is this even open to me? There is no might-have-been, every one of my steps brought me here, there were no crossroads and no junctions, only the road made straight before me.
But what I would have wished, this is the last diversion as I see his hand tighten around the stock and his eye narrow against the sights. I would have wished to write about the books that I loved and to see the lands described within them. I would have wished to be one of the mighty, a place set for me at the table of my lord. I would have wished to be wished for, to be the name on some girl’s lips as she ran to me, and on her child’s lips as I held him. I would have wished to see in myself what I have seen in my father and to see in her what I have seen in my mother, to stand betwixt generations and know both past and future by their smell and feel.
These things I would have wished for but no longer, here all is ending in the air and darkness and my wishes have no currency. Here is the end of every song I have not sung and every word I have not written. Here all potential ends.
Here. And all. And ending –