The beginning was long ago. There were no longer people who even remembered what it was like not to hold fire in the palm of their hands. And yet, as sure as the beginning was long ago, it was rare to find anyone who would even engage the notion that time was nearing its end. Even though the waters were rising and the grounds were shifting and the mountains were crumbling and the search for more and more fire was taking the people deeper and deeper into the earth and into the darkness, it was still hard to find people who would even engage the notion that time was nearing its end.
And so, the people clung to the things that to them represented the beginning, perhaps in the hope that there would be no end. The people rejected the advances that the fire had brought them; the people all turned as one to watch men charge at each other across a field; the people gave themselves up to the voices who told them how to feel, and what to feel it about; the people relaxed into the collective glow, all of them recognizing how much easier it was this way, to live like it was still the beginning.
And on the 2nd day of the 2nd month, the people looked to a rodent from an outer borough—and not even one of the popular ones, one of the ones where the people had actually visited—to tell them whether or not the season would change as it had always done. The people checked that morning to see what future the rodent predicted; they checked by looking into the fire they held in the palm of their hands. The people walked through piles of snow and into puddles of slush and rain and snow covered their heads and their hands and still they checked to see what a rodent who lives underground in a lesser outer borough had to say about the impending changing of the seasons.
This is where the people were now. The beginning was long ago. The sky was falling all around them. They held fire—they held the world—in the palm of their hands. And yet they looked to a rodent to tell them that the sky would one day stop falling. They wanted to know: Will it be warm again? They wanted to know: Will the sun shine once more? They wanted to know: Will we be ok? The world won’t really end, will it?
On the 2nd day of the 2nd month, the rodent came outside of his hole. He sniffed the air. He stayed far away from the towering people. He knew what could happen when his kind came to close to towering people. The rodent sniffed the air. He stayed outside of his hole. The people breathed a sigh of relief. The sky would one day stop falling. It would be warm again. The sun would shine once more. They would be ok. The world wouldn’t end today.
The groundhog went back inside the hole. And so did the people.
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