Letters to Stories: Behind “Aftershock”

What happens when a wish comes true? Cover art for Aftershock as displayed on Instagram.

By Simon Heywood

What happens when a wish does come true? I personally never had that happen, especially if my wishes were made desperately from my deepest and darkest thoughts and regrets (thank God), but I always wondered, with all the regrets I carry, what happened if one of those time reversal wishes came true? Where I could undo the mistakes that ended a friendship, and live in that alternate life? What would today look like if one of those wishes to undo a certain event in my life came true?

Aftershock was written as a part 2 to my poem Wish, and was inspired by a song in the musical Next to Normal, titled “Aftershocks”. I took the meaning of the word literally, and had part 1 explore the wishes of my darkness, which is the cause, and part 2, Aftershock, explore the effects of my wishes. Aftershock is a term generally used for the secondary shakes and effects left behind after an earthquake, which inspired the cover art. The light in the center of the cover represents the wish that is at the epicenter of new destruction.

As much as this talks about the effects of a wish, it also talks about pain itself. Often, we go through life, always facing new struggles and sometimes being dropped into darker and darker moments, thinking that the action that led to being dropped into the dark is the source of our current turmoil and pain. However, it seems we always never stop to think that the current pain and the event that caused it isn’t new. The cause of the pain isn’t the ultimate cause. This poem tells to go way deeper down and find out when we first got hurt, because that’s the true first domino that started the whole tumble.

The symbol tied to aftershock then takes a twist from representing the effects of a wish to the effects of a traumatic event. The fear that was left behind after that first fall. Unless we dig so far down to that first trauma, then any wish to undo a current pain won’t really work, because the tremors we feel from our fear can and will be felt by others. Wish warns the readers to be careful what we wish for, and Aftershock tells why to be cautious as well as to wish for the right things.

At the end of the day, what’s most important as that even though we may carry so much pain, we should never wish it away. I once heard that the right thing to do is almost never easy, and wishing our traumas away is the easy thing to do. Pain is inevitable, and sometimes we question why we have to go through it. One thing to always remember is that pain always teaches a lesson, no matter how vague or apparent at first. Once we take away the lesson from the pain, we may still feel tremors, but we are stronger from the lessons to be able to withstand former shakes. We are stronger because of what we go through, always.

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