There are times that I feel a story is smarter than I am, and that story is “Itself at the Heart of Things” by Andrea Corbin. It is a story both dream sequence and metaphor, both apocalyptic and ordinary (in the best way).
The narrator and her husband are disassembling themselves throughout the story, piece by piece, in the face of a coming invasion. The world only knows that the Szemurians are coming because they are each and all dreaming of them, each dream a different path to destruction.
The narrative is lyric and beautiful. I was never sure whether the narrator was some kind of android, or whether she was speaking of her dream, or whether she was speaking in riddles. There was overlap, perhaps, and the entire thing feels more like a way of speaking about relationships than anything else:
I held the makeshift satchel of myself, and he held me, and we left.
And isn’t that like any disaster?
There wasn’t much more that we could do for each other. An arm each, a head each, leaving enough to hold each other, and not enough to come apart entirely. We would lay ourselves out in all our parts, reordered and useless
It is as if Corbin is saying, The world will end this way, and this way, and this way, and we are all doing our small things, and sometimes we do those things together.