Sam had been reading the notes in the gratitude jar again. Not a good sign. Ellie prepared herself for an exhausting evening of listening to him continuously criticise people and bemoan his situation in life. By nature she was a positive person with a continuous smile on her face; but her smile was beginning to feel forced. She found herself snapping at her co-workers constantly. Her mother had expressed concern for her changing behaviours and, a year later, Ellie was beginning to accept the toxicity of her relationship with Sam. It was time to make a change.
Stepping into the room, Fran looked across the room filled with the buzz of her colleagues. She did not appreciate the exaggerated introduction by Coburn as she knew he did not support her success. She had worked hard at this project and had taken a great leap of faith with the direction she had taken the company. Yes, she was good at what she did – but then so were many others. What separated her from the pack was her willingness to take risks, even at personal cost. It was these risks that had led to the jealousy she felt emanating from the room.
“Thank you Coburn.
Afternoon everyone. I will now detail the next step in the process to reverse the deterioration of the planet’s energy forms.”
The arid landscape was drawing closer every month. The community felt unsettled as fear eroded their complacency and impassiveness. Men and women of Hope had believed their land would remain the anomaly, but the reality was that the parasitic outsiders were slowly decimating their ecosystems. And the aliens’ greed was voracious! The humans who had survived the unexpected onslaught were compelled to band together and work as a team to take their world back. Future generations and the survival of Arcadia depended on it. People would have to stand up and fight for their birthright and what belonged to them!
As the train approached the tunnel, the driver pulled on the horn. The abrasive sound was a grim reminder to Becky that her life was about to change. Irrefutably. Her parents’ death meant a change of family, of home, of language, of country. Her eyes scanned the flashing countryside through the window. She would not give in to tears. She would not! She would face the upcoming challenges with gritty determination and make her parents proud. The unknown faces waiting for her at the train station may claim to care for her well-being, but her trust needed to be earned.
“Notice: The papers for the merger have been signed. Meetings will take place with each individual to determine your future with this company.”
Our department was in an uproar. People did not want to lose their jobs – they had families to feed and mortgages to pay. Yet I was relieved. Relieved that I would no longer be expected to come here day after day to do a soulless job. I felt the tasks expected of me were draining my creativity and aspirations. We had agreed, my husband and I, that with my severance I could follow my dream and enroll in Art school.
“Good morning Mrs Peele. We have looked at your resume, your work ethic, and your supervisor’s recommendations. We believe you are a good fit for the new direction the company is taking and are happy to tell you that we will be keeping you on at an increased salary with added responsibilities.”
She had been a caring woman, putting the needs of the community before her own. Matriarch and unofficial Chief. That is what we called her. Like King Solomon, she advised us wisely and helped us towards a greater understanding of ourselves. The way she died was not just. Gasping for air as the ungrateful one lashed out at her brand of justice. Locked in a prison cell for the remainder of his life, he mourns her death. But not as we do. We send out lights into the ocean to lead her spirit to the place she deserves to be.
The clutter on the sideboard and the smell of stale smoke gave her no clue as to where they were. Trying the sliding door to the back garden, she found it now opened smoothly. She stepped outside and heard laughter coming from the unused outbuilding. Curious, she walked across the newly cut lawn. Her parents had not laughed for years; instead they constantly bickered and often showed their discontent with one another. In front of the warped door, she saw them with a young man. “Celine, come meet your brother. He has agreed to stay.” So much was now explained.
Looking out through the window, I felt a desire to go out into the sun and admire the life that teemed in our garden. Time, however, was of the essence. I had chopped, boiled, stirred, sieved and blended the ingredients to form the perfect paste. The aroma had seeped into every space in the room, causing a heady sensation on the edge of my brain. The batch was almost ready and my contact would collect the jars within three hours. Soon my sought after product would be found on the streets of the city. Everyone wished to extend their life.
We had made it! I gazed around, breathless at the beauty that surrounded me. The architecture was magnificent and unlike anything I had seen before. The crowd’s murmurings echoed off the high ceilings; the light pulsed brightly from the white marbled walls. I thought back to the grey concrete walls of the place I grew up; and the musty, stifling scent that had invaded my pores. Here the scent was fresh with open spaces that promised freedom. But soon it would no longer exist. We began the work we had signed up for: rendering these extravagant spaces into a memory.
What do you feel when entering an impressive building?
Molly needed a life-saving operation and, after forty years, it was the moment to cash in the insurance he had buried a life-time ago. The sun warmed his back as he heard the thud of the shovel against the crate hidden in the depths of his garden. Lifting the box, he carried it quickly into the modest house. Curtains drawn against the harsh sunlight, he lifted the contents with reverence. Sasha was still alive and would pay handsomely to have his family secrets returned. And himself? He would risk his life to ensure that Molly lived more than seven years.