Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's what he would have wanted

Last night I had a dream.

I was alone at my parent's old house in Windsor.
It was sunny, autumn. The leaves on the neighborhood trees were displaying their reds, oranges, and yellows. Two men in their 60s came walking up to the house. I knew they were bearing bad news. I had been expecting it, and now I was ready to hear it.

"We would like to talk to you about your friend, Aaron Leeman."

I invited them in. One of the men handed me a burrito.

"This is part of what we are able to produce because of the work Aaron Leeman has done. As you know, his work was brilliant. He was able to create an object which had properties of exponents when viewed one way and properties of logarithms when viewed another way. You could go back and forth as you pleased, depending on the application. While not actually mathematics, his work has many interesting mathematical properties."

I held the burrito in my hand staring at it. I started to peel off the aluminum foil allowing steam to escape.

"Aaron Leeman is dead. He was making a larger one of these, the largest ever, stretching his research beyond the limits. Unfortunately, his work consumed him and he was enveloped in a giant version of his work."

I broke down in tears and ran out the back door. The men followed me, the same one talking while I, on my knees on the ground, peeled back the flour tortilla with my hands, the refried beans and cheese burning my fingers a little bit.

"He was horribly burned. When we found him, his body was charred black. There was nothing left of him but ash."

Under the layer of refried beans was a steak hoagie. I wanted to find a piece of Aaron inside somewhere. I didn't.

I needed to talk to someone, so I went in search of my mom, who was in some abstract version of New York City out near the train station at near 98th and 99th. I told her what happened, crying the whole time.

"That's awful!"

"Yea," I said. Then, chuckling, "But it's also really, really funny."

I couldn't stop laughing.

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