Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Climbing to Surface Worlds

Continued from last week.

Our world is luxurious. 

A pill can be taken to forget things. 

Forget the heartache, embrace forever.

I watched the signs flicker in the cavernous underbelly of my home, New Austin. Twenty years ago my family arrived in the first ruckus hall, a space dedicated to debauchery and escape. Now the hall was only a memory. Forty square miles of caves construct our haven from above, where the poor are. In the candle lit halls I have wondered if the surface still knows we are here. Could they have forgotten so quickly?

Cory Callaway was walking towards me. He's a sweet boy, sex starved but sweet. When I became a woman he no longer wanted my friendship. It made me sad to think that so much would change. But he's still sweet, most of the time.

"Hey there, did you find anything you like in the Mature Room?"

My eyes glanced to the side, avoiding his hungry stare.

"Nothin' I wanted to know now," I said noncommittally. "'Sides, the room is all talk anyhow. Just a bunch'a geezers and old folk."

"You're lying darlin'," he replied. He shoved his hands into his pockets and began to walk away. I followed him. What else was I to do? I was curious. "I heard the truth long before any fancy doodads done told me. Hell, my mamma told me soon as I could walk."

"You're fibbin'," I heckled.

"Cross my heart..."

He walked me home, said goodbye. I said goodbye.

My mother was at the round table in the kitchen chopping up vegetables from the solar garden. Pa hadn't come home yet, as usual. He was working swing with the rest of the miners, digging and drilling our freedom further into the Earth. Being a miner was a tough job with long hours and many troubles, but they saw the stars, or were allowed to. Miners were the only kinds of employees that could go topside, solely for survey work. Sometimes they came back smelling funny, wearing strange clothes. But none said a word of it.

Be brought me a picture of the sunset once. I didn't know it then. He just told me it was a lamp he saw.

"Home already Susan?"

My mother peeked her head out from behind the refrigeration unit.

"So? What did you think?"

I took a seat across from her and sat quietly a moment. Words formed then disappeared. I was anxious, embarrassed, everything in between. But my words came to, and found their way.

"You lied to me," I said sullenly. "Why?"

She stared back at me, concerned and fearful. She huffed and puffed defensively.

"I told you what every ma and pa tells their children. What am I supposed to say, Suz'? I can't teach you to know what you ain't never heard of."

My head bobbed thoughtfully. I heard her speak, but I wasn't listening.

"You folk were so scared of the Blacks and the Mexicans that you dug a hole in the sand?"

"Catch your tongue young lady," my mother recoiled shrilly. "I ain't above beating you, no matter how old you are! You are making plenty o' accusations that you don't know heads or tails of."

"So why, then?"

She went silent. Taking a towel and laying it across her shoulders, she walked around the bar, around me, and sat on the sofa behind me. Turning around I saw her in the dim, dank darkness, staring back at me, like a cat in the under alleys.

"Listen," she began.

"Humor me," I replied.

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