A small column of drably painted and up-armoured SUVs rolls through the tight, rutted streets of Kabul. In this scenario there is an IED strike, and an SUV is suddenly rended upwards. After achieving the apex of its trajectory it – almost infinitely slowly – thumps back to the ground, resting on its side like a crumpled tetra-pak.
As ears ring and the lighter pieces of debris – granola bar wrappers and pages of a well-worn Maxam – make their own languid way to the now charred ground, the ripples and cracks from AK fire descend on the convoy.
The weight of your torso keeps you held in place in a half slump/half hang as the seatbelt buckle refuses to budge. And as you've done through the years, in moments where chance asserts itself, you think of that touchstone of quantum mechanical theories involving cats.
Rounds crack through shattered a windshield and there's only you and the rounds. They impact, walking towards you along the upholstery of the passenger seats, making little puffy craters as they do.
And at this point the world splits into 2 possible universes.
In one of these universes, looking into the impact holes you see the promise of darkness, isolated and infinite moments, the lulling embrace of the void. You think of the potential decades laid ahead and feel overwhelmed by the emotional drain of living in the days, weeks, months and years to come. You welcome the rounds closer. They are a friend who comes up to you and, speaking directly into your ear says, "Here I am. Let's leave this world."
In the other universe each of these impacts opens a tiny peephole through which you replay the world:
Eating Honeysuckle with your step-son on a grassy embankment in early summer.
Watching Swallows dip into the Yukon River at sunset, snatching up bugs in a marionette dance.
Smelling a thunderstorm as trees bend in anticipation of its arrival.
and you realize that you want to go home. To your friends and your city, to lovers and hipsters, hobos and dog parks. To the knowledge that those gleaming moments of joy are worth the pain that brackets them. And in this moment of revelation and grace you thank the universe for this war.