Say Good-Bye to the Good Old Invisible World
*Editor's Note: This piece first appeared in Slink Chunk Press.
For the first time I have permission to walk alone all my way from home to school.
Five blocks of pure challenge.
“You’ll be tailing me,” I say in disbelief.
Mommy smiles making me smile too. “Use the rear-view eyes on your neck.”
She fondly ruffles my hair and turns me around to face the deserted street, which I should follow towards becoming an empowered young woman. I carry my green backpack containing spiral bound notebooks and colored pencils. The folder, with my drawings inside, I hold it snugly to the chest.
At Dawn Street, I check once again that nobody is following me: I am really on my own. Mother would never fit behind those slim trees. Brave Carol. Or merely Carol?
I have plenty of time as I walked with a quick stride. However I decide to take a shortcut. Yeah, Brave Carol. I turn towards Canary Street.
Facing the wire mesh fence, I bite my lip in hesitation. Fear makes me freeze. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. “Count to ten,” Daddy taught me. I run my hand over the mesh feeling for the secret entrance.
The older boys always mention that secret hole upon talking about the Junk Lot, which is one of the names they use to call that place. They tell that two small siblings, a boy and a girl, were attacked by savage wanderers while playing there.
I shove the folder with my drawings through the hole in the fence, and then push the backpack, which fits tightly. Finally, I sneak in myself, taking great care to preserve my school uniform intact.
After the fire, the remaining pieces of the house that someone had once dared to build there had been gradually taken away. In spite of that some debris left over from the demolition remained scattered over the haunted area, to be eventually cleared. Twisted iron rods. One pile of scrapped wood. Another one with brick pieces. These elements now crumbling like charred paper had given the construction its shape for as long as they could, until they collapsed under the wish of the siblings. You see, the boy and the girl had sparks in their faces. That’s how the path is lit. As the older boys explain it, one should face the unknown with blazing eyes.
Anything built on that lot shall burn. That’s a promise!
So I walk slowly. No more fears, just respectful.
I tell myself that nobody shall ever desecrate that place again. Yet what do I know?
Now the Guardian trusts us. Good behavior is the last defense.
The prisoner in a case in the middle of the car points to the metal curtain that prevents looking outside during the transfer. “How about having some view outside, to cheer us up?”
The Guardian has no name, at least hasn’t mentioned any, which makes no difference since they are all alike. But the prisoner names the Guardian for its role and he insists in begging.
"Warden, a bit of landscape, please! We did a good job!”
Though pride prevents the outlanders from using our language, they understand the words as well as we, natives, do. There is a joke around the colonies: They might be human.
Suddenly the noisy mechanism is turned on. The metallic shade moves slowly, uncovering the silvery structures that now pervade everywhere. Towers. Stations. In spite of the change to the overall landscape in the world, I know where we are. I know exactly where we are.
“This place,” I said to myself and to the fellow in the next box.
“Planet Earth. That’s what it once was,” he remarks.
“That junk there should have been burnt.”
It’s not a joke like “they might be human”, but a realization instead. A true fact.
The fellow in the adjoining box whispers eagerly, “Watch your words, Miss. Enjoy what we have. Please don’t make trouble.”
“It should have been burnt.”
“Hey, Miss. It’s a long trip. All right?”
“That,” and I point at the alien miscreation occupying the very same lot that a little girl once trespassed after some short hesitation. “You don’t get it.”
“I really don’t! What is your problem?”
The Guardian’s tentacles get restless.
“I miss the old ghosts. That’s all.”