There is no point in trying. The town is spotless.

With the end of the world, all dirt and remains of this mess got sucked away. It surprises Ford to see how well it works for people, just forgetting, letting things go.

He never could. That is why he is outside, throwing shade in the light of the late summer. Still, if he tried – if he, too, let this part of this life fade in the past – wouldn’t it be good?

Ford sighs. His breath is a long, woeful sound. He ducks again, carefully inspecting the ground with his gloves, and it’s no use – not even the cinders are left for him to keep, as a memento.

The journals are gone.

What rises from his throat is no longer the void of panic. It is a dull ache, a lone grip in his guts, stark contrast with the rest of his numb body. He has no thoughts to cling to, if not a tone of banal disappointment.

It all went away, yes. They did it. But what burns in fire never comes back – or almost.

Once more, he has no power over the events. With no pages left to turn, Ford calls to his memory. Infinite and clean is the paper of the mind, and no pen of the imagination ever runs out of ink.

It is still so fragile, he thinks with a shiver. Gone in a flash. Thus, immeasurably valuable.

He opens the journals in his mind, feeling the rough texture of the covers, and the smell flashes from fresh to battered and torn. He watches years of research flow in black –

– one, a world of young enthusiasm, as if his life had finally, finally gotten it right. He tastes the clean air, the loneliness, aching for the answers and the treasures of science to come –

– two, a wary mixture of curiosity and experience, until the burst of colours that tears time and space apart. He is more than himself, free from the boundaries of his body; he smiles to his almighty partner and his eye smiles back –

– two and a half, he is shaken by terror night and day. He was the heart of a world, now he is alone, with his shame and guilt coiling around the passing hours; he turns his words to transparent shadows, slips into darkness, prays that nobody will see –

– blank pages, with no one to write on, hopefully forever.

It isn’t how it went, Ford muses. It really isn’t. He distantly thinks that now, according to his logic, he should have a hole in his chest, opened by such an enormous loss of time and strength.

He silently scolds himself a moment later. Just what has ever been logical in Gravity Falls?

There is no hole, no sense of desolation. In fact – there would be, if what he has lost actually felt meaningful. And it would, had things gone differently. But he is tired, he was so scared, and his heart is still trembling at the idea of what else he was this close to losing.

He firmly plants his soles where the journals probably burnt to ashes. That’s fine. There is too much Ford has left behind in this town, too much he has risked, and he is not willing to make the same mistakes.

On his way to the Shack, he enters the first shop he comes across. He does not come back empty-handed. He holds a small diary, first price, roughly put together with cheap glue and paper. No durability, he grumbles. It will do anyway.

Of the many useless things one can do, clinging to the past may be the first. As they have learnt too well, anything can go with the first gust of wind. If he has lost writings and signs, if he will barely remember what his life used to be, he can only accept it. He was already too lucky like this – to be left with a family and an adventure.

He walks home, satisfied with his findings. And if all those pages are empty, if the new journal has no traces of his own, he doesn’t mind.

He only cares about the things he is going to fill them with.