The bird tapping on the window reminded her that there was life outside of this room and these four walls. She had been so engrossed in her task for the last few days, that life had stood still. Eating crisps in front of her laptop had been the norm; and her exercise routine had been set aside. Her research was done! Attaching the documents to an email, she sent it off to her supervisor. Hopefully now they would make the decision to cancel the forthcoming policies. If they did not, the company would be the target of crippling lawsuits.
Teddy pulled into the parking lot while Christine jumped eagerly up and down in the back seat. He liked the 50s vibe of the diner and hustled his eager family through the entrance to a corner booth.
“Let’s get milkshakes!”
“And fries, lots of them!”
Teddy smiled at his wife. Spending time together on their driving holiday had reconnected them all – especially as their mobile devices had been left at home. The stop was a perfect addition to their old-fashioned vacation.
The family noisily dived into their meal, their enthusiasm unhampered by selfies.
Lifting her face, Sara soaked in the absolute peace that surrounded her. The cooling breeze reminded her that the summer days were shortening as was her time here. The unfettered days of her vacation had been a respite from the drudgery of her daily routine and had led to a decision her family would not easily accept. Being the oldest child did not mean she should be the lifetime caregiver of their wheelchair-bound sibling. Either everyone take their turn looking after him; or each person contributes to his care. It was time Sara take back her life.
The empty shelves told their story: the poverty had spread, affecting even those who had once lived with plenty. No longer did the wealthy strut about the towns showing off their well-padded bodies clothed in fine materials. Now the middle class felt what the hungry knew intimately: stomach cramps and dreams of the next meal. They now knew what it was like to never be satisfied; to be focused on one thing only – survival.
Behind towering walls, those who had orchestrated the widespread poverty congratulated themselves while gorging themselves on mouth-watering dishes. Their plan to control everyone was bearing fruit.
I stood up, enthusiastically applauding those on stage. They had enchanted me with their skill and, for three hours, had held my attention and taken me away from my worries.
Exiting the theatre, I hurried along the street back to my home. An ailing parent was my mundane reality and this evening had been my escape for a few hours. My days would now follow the routine of caring for a woman that had once been the flame that drew many around her. Now I was the lone moth that lingered near her diminishing light. Alzheimer’s is a cruel master.
The sky rumbled, throwing ice-cold water against the window panes. Silvia shivered as she looked outside. It felt as if she were being reprimanded for her decision but she held firm. She wasn’t going to acquiesce to her siblings’ bullying! Mom deserved a chance and disconnecting her life support would take away a hope at life.
Tears running down her face, Sylvia gripped her mother’s hand tightly to the echo of beeping machines. She leaned forward to hear her mom’s final words. “Let me go Sylvie, my time has come.”
As the last beep faded, a life gently slipped away.
En mass, the acolytes drew the attention of passersby. Daniel noticed the expressions of those he passed: fear, disdain, sometimes envy. He lifted his head proudly. He believed fully in the tenets of the Leader and knew that in the apocalypse to come, both his soul and body would be saved.
The final task before complete acceptance into the cult was to spread the message and bring more people into the fold. The young acolytes went where they knew best: the local teen hangouts. Here, the search for self could be directed towards a man striving to be a demi-god.
A new day was to begin. Pathways had been cleared during the night, the plough’s work breaking the night’s quiet. Once the sun had risen, the roads would be filled with the trudging footsteps of weary workers. The promised New Beginning had morphed into a living nightmare. Life had returned to the decades of hardship filled with mind-numbing labour. The exorcism of technology had benefited a few – those with power and money. The middle class had joined the working class and the habit of living from day to day. Would they ever have the energy and mindset to revolt?
Sitting in a plane seat for hours, inactive and restless, was difficult for Tate. It reminded her of high school and the ongoing drone of the teachers’ voices. The Haagen-Dazs, however, made her think of sunny days with her girlfriends. As each scoop melted in her mouth, thoughts of their antics and conversations swirled in her mind. Sighing, she savoured the last mouthful. She needed to get back together with them. They had been her rock and she had been drifting along aimlessly since her departure. The plane was taking her home and bringing her closer to her people.
Time spent in the garden breathing in the scents of damp earth and perfumed flowers were her best moments. Gazing up, she looked past the checkered dome to the clear blue sky. She itched to be out there like the birds she saw flying high. But she would never have the courage to leave on her own.
“I wonder what it would be like out there. The elders claim the dome protects us. But is it necessary?”
The boy had twinkling eyes and an earnest gaze. Her heart leapt out to his. Connected. Maybe he would venture out with her.