Fiction | March 02, 2021

Less than 30 miles from Malibu, the nearly 3,000-acre site had been used since the late ’40s for the development of rocket engines. In the ’50s, Atomics International began to use the SSFL for the development of nuclear reactors.” Robert Kerbeck, “With No Cleanup Plan in Place, Santa Susana Field Lab Still Stokes Contamination Fears,” Los Angeles Magazine, December 4, 2019,
“Boeing has conducted interim cleanup measures at Santa Susana while building the scientific basis for cleanup pending final regulatory approval.”—Boeing, “Frequently Asked Questions/What Has Boeing Done to Clean Up the Site So Far?” (last consulted April 9, 2020).
There is no “why,” Miss Rodriguez. There is only “how.” From the clamor of our births to the silence of our deaths, all events arise through a calamitous
process that is known by one word, a curious word, a word that signifies the lip print on the glass, the mutation of the cell, the dragon’s flight, the unexpected touch of the hand, the brown bear of strength, and the life-blasting enigma of love. That word is “accident,” Miss Rodriguez. “Accident.”
Our poor planet flies through space on the wings of an accident, Miss Rodriguez.
I know this, because how else can I explain how my life has unfolded? I am the way I am because of an invisible wrinkle in my DNA as well as an intricacy
of untraceable errors made by malevolent men working in a secret laboratory. And also for no reason at all. I am here, now, with all my varieties of damage, because the galaxy is forged in a crucible of error. Yes, human existence is nothing more than an alembic of astonishments and catastrophes.

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