I was looking at the television with glazed eyes and mild disinterest in the summer of 2015. They said the world changed forever that day. I guess it did, but it felt like it was all a bit exaggerated and everyone was just overreacting. After all, I knew Billy Weizstein. I knew the man (or boy, rather) who released all his precious human mass into energy. I knew the boy who taught the world that e=mc2 was a scary, threatening, pregnant equation and that everything around you is dangerous. I knew the kid who exploded.
The news footage showed some grandiose explosion, mimicking the magnitude of something like Hiroshima. Except, this time, there was no side to cheer for. No good guys to glorify, no opposition to vilify. Buildings went up in smoke, people fled and and people cried and people died. Screaming was recorded, but try as they might, no evidence of foul play was initially found.
News anchors stared into cameras like deers all caught in the headlights of a truck full of nuclear waste. No, a freight train. They grabbed earpieces with confused eyes, standing slack-jawed in amazement. Authorities lips’ flapped frantically, blaming terrorism as images of men in turbans danced across the screen. But this was no Holy War. It was science. It was innocent, nonchalant, nature casually obliverating as it sometimes does.
My body was trembling, yes, and I was in shock, I admit. But there was nothing dynamic in my response, I simply kept myself parked on a sofa as what seemed the apocalypse unfolded on the TV screen. Men in laboratories had engineered those cathode rays, and Mother Nature spawned those jumpy electrons. Those were the particles that kept it all interesting. The finicky electrons were light flighty adolescent glue, holding everything together, just barely. And now, they powered my television, broadcasting the result of science gone horribly wrong,
Or so it looked.
I called my mother into the room with no inflection of emotion in my voice.
“Oh dear…” she said with limited comprehension of the situation. “Isn’t that the school…” she gained interest when the site of the explosion was told, “Where Billy Weizstein is studying?”
I nodded, my eyes still glazed over, staring emptily into the television. I bit my tongue in contemplation, tasting the salty August sweat dripping off my skin.
“Was,” I stated in a matter of fact tone.