She stood by a ruined building in a ruined world. Blocks of concrete and graphite laid all around her. They were the remnants of a once giant building, a crown jewel of human technology and physics. But it all blew up right in front of them. Like everything human made, it had betrayed her, and ultimately, it had betrayed the humans and they had betrayed each other.
Everything that was once blue, turquoise and green was now grey and brown. It has been over a thousand years since this building had exploded and had commenced the beginning of the end for all humankind and everything she had created and given birth to, on this once thriving planet.
She remembered the buzzing sound of technology, that brilliance of human knowledge. She was there, Mother Earth, when they sparked fire from stone, when they built their great temples, when they spread the written word and when they caught electricity within a light bulb for the first time.
She had been there, every time and whenever they had done something horrible, she had looked the other way. When they had slaughtered each other for riches and land, for believes and knowledge, for food and water. Every time she hoped they could do better, that they could heal and start again. But when they split the atom for the first time, a darkness crept inside of her immortal heart and festered. She knew it was a kind of poison not even nature and the elements could heal from. She had always turned away before, because she knew, deep down that light would always conquer darkness. And she wanted humans to find the light themselves. But she had overestimated them. A human with an axe can kill dozens of people, a man with fire can kill hundreds and destroy a forest. A man with a machine gun or a grenade launcher can kill thousands. A human with a gas chamber, the most wicked of inventions, can kill millions of people and destroy generations. But give man the atom and man will kill everything and everyone there is. The possibility to play with the smallest thing there is and unleash it, either on purpose or by accident, every animal, every plant, every child will be born destroyed and die repeatedly in pain for hundreds of thousands of years. Because once the atom is freed, it does not go anywhere but out, and everywhere inside.
She looked up at the building and shed a tear of terror, realising what she led allow to thrive. She should have wiped them out when she had the chance. There was a moment in time when she could have saved everything alive. Even now, filled with hatred, despair and sadness, she would have wanted to give humans another chance. Because they too were her children and deserved to live.
She looked on and her expression grew cold. She knew, it did not matter anymore. Now, everything was dead or doomed to die a slow and painful death. She had not interfered when she had the chance and now all life had to pay for it. She walked on towards a cliff and below her was the ocean, steaming with acid. Nothing could live there anymore. The humans and their waste had made sure of that. Her gaze wandered over the dark grey waves of the ocean that belonged to her. In her hands she could feel the pulsating fires of the world that were waiting to be unleashed. In her feet she could sense the earth that was ready to tear every bit of land apart and crush every mountain. She would reshape this earth. This was the only way to wash everything away there was, with water, fire and earth. The land had to be burned, the sea had to be vaporised, the clouds and the atmosphere had to be torn down and transformed. It would take her hundreds of thousands of years but then life would get another chance.
Her white silk dress that flowed in the wind caught all the dust and dirt that flew within the air and turned it grey. She could hear all the noise, all the pain that circulated on this planet, coming from the remnants of life, some animals, that still managed to survive within this hellfire. She could smell all the rotting corpses in the heat and wet bones in once green lands now flooded. Her hair, a long time ago, brown and beautiful, was now falling out. She could feel the radiation rippling through her body. Even her immortal flesh and soul was now vulnerable. She could not die but she would never be as beautiful as she used to be.
She looked around one last time, upon the remnants of this earth. Today, nature itself would rise and destroy itself to be born again. Her heart of air, water, earth and fire would see to it.
She stepped closer to the edge of the cliff. One more step and she would not see the sun for thousands of years. She breathed in the poisonous air, breathed out and unleashed winds that were carried across the waves and would turn into storms to break the heavens apart.
She took another step and fell. The moment her feet had left the ground, the earth rippled, broke apart and would reshape this planet to its core. Then she disappeared within the acidic waters and the waves, caused by her fall, woke all the water within the sea and joined air and earth in vanquishing this world.
Then mother earth closed her eyes and sank deeper and deeper. Hot tears left her closed eyes, and like flames, they rose to the surface and transformed into a fire storm. But she would not see any of it. She would not see the earthquakes, storms, waves and fires destroying this world. She sunk deeper and deeper into a slumber, only to rise again when this world was gone and a new one was born.
Note by the author: This short story was inspired by the novel ‚Chernobyl Prayer‘ written by Svetlana Alexievich.