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by dm gillis

In a dream he was Little Boy, released lazily from the fuselage, falling freely over the city with his eyes open wide, toward the topography and civil systems, framed by the compass horizon. This was the elegance of his descent, the landscape static below for that long minute, having been dropped from so high, altitude divorcing distance above him. Then the dense second of his detonation, uranium-235 colliding, his solidity failing him, as he becomes the toroidal vortex that will define him forevermore.

He woke at 3:00 a.m., in the heat of that fire over Hiroshima. But remembered after a moment that it was August, and the heat was merely a humid swelter over his dull prairie neighbourhood. He sat up in his bed, scanning the dark for ghosts. There were none, of course. The dead spent no time in his ordinary garden. They didn’t peek over its walls, or try its gate. The dead danced on planets. And there were so many.

He was a man of many regrets, prone to saying he had none. Alive to the suicide in things, he wrote equations on his ceilings and walls, papering over the windows and writing over them. Kilometres of binaries, brackets, numbers, functions, powers and variables throughout the house, all in 4B graphite pencil. There were holes in things. He gauged their sizes and pinpointed their locations. Strings of calculus. He dusted carefully the boundaries between objects, a bit of cotton fibre on a toothpick run along the cracks in things. 3:00 a.m. glowed in the dark. It was a fictitious thing, a fraud perpetrated. Time is equal to distance over velocity, t = d/v; anguish equal to isolation over remembering, a = i/r.

The Enola Gay, with a crew of 12, 7,000 gallons of fuel, and a 9,000 pound bomb in its belly, lifted off from Tinian Airfield at 2:45 a.m. on August 6, 1945. The B-29 Superfortress had four engines and was propeller-driven, a heavy bomber designed by Boeing. It was advanced for its time, with a pressurized cabin, an electronic fire-control system, and remote-controlled machine-guns. The crew dropped the bomb over the city at 8:15 a.m.

A girl on the ground looked up at the silver bead falling in the sky, her head tilted back, her mouth open slightly. Wonder had briefly set in. Raijū, she said, a second before she was blinded.

She wore a blue cotton dress and a red paper flower in her hair.

***

The sad-eyed Julius Robert Oppenheimer, not a Canadian, drank coffee and read the New York Times in a Woolworth’s in New York City. It had been two years since the detonation over Hiroshima. His ghosts didn’t dance on planets. They peered in through the plate glass window. He was contrite but haunted. He could smell Los Alamos on his skin. He was Vishnu at a lunch counter.


dm gillis is a writer from Vancouver, Canada.

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