[Pod and Planet Contest Submission] Coda

This is my first entry into the YC 119 Pod and Planet Fiction Contest. It is submitted formally under the category - A Day in the Life, but also as an entry in the Very Short Fiction subcategory.

By Lasairiona Raske

The acrid smoke filled his lungs as he stumbled to his feet, ears ringing from the blast. Where was he? Had it been one minute or one hour since the bomb went off? He had been standing…with whom? He couldn’t remember. Staring down at his hands, his vision focused onto the blacken skin, marred by red slashes. Around the fourth finger on his left hand was a ring. Was he married? He ran his fingers over his face, wincing as he probed a wound on his forehead. Who was he?

Faltering, he searched for other survivors, finding only charred bodies. He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact he was still alive. But what did he have to return to? He couldn’t remember his name or even what he had been doing there.

The crackling of fires permeated the buzzing in his ears. Something primal pushed him to move away from the destruction and get to safety. Nearly careening over debris, he pushed himself to his feet again and tripped, just as a second blast wave slammed into his back, propelling him forward.

He lay on the ground, moaning, feeling the clothes singed onto his flesh. Every time he inhaled, sharp knives jabbed his lungs. With each heartbeat, he could feel blood seeping from his wounds. He closed his eyes, willing death to come. He could remember singing, a smile, flashes of auburn hair. Soft limbs reaching for him.

Fumbling with his right hand, he grasped the ring, hoping it might evoke further memories. Children. More laughter. A house and a forest. A dance in the moonlight.

Prying the ring from his finger, he held it in his palm, the metal hot even against his burning skin. Cool bedsheets. A body molded to his. A voice.

“I love you.”

Letting out a final breath, his life faded, and the ring slipped from his grasp.

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