"No. No I can't..."
I was born into a world that was different than my parents. According to them, I came on the cusp of change. Great furvor swept me away, wrapped in cotton swaddling. And I saw my last sunrise long before I could have remembered it.
The world didn't end. I know this now. It kept on going. We stayed because we were afraid.
Time to time, when I was a child I would walk to the final hatch. My hands pressed against the wheel crank, and the coldness of it's steel numbed my ear. I listened for the world above. But I never heard anything.
Once, I visited the archives. In the large, stately corridors, lined with books and culture I saw a limp flag hanging. Perched high up, exalted in the house of learning, the lifeless cloth communicated nothing to me. It was a burial shroud, meant for a nation. Beneath the flag was a rotund glass display. Inside, a dim colorless monitor, hazed and silent, played a video on continuous loop. Scenes of havok and liberalism crowded the CRT monitor. And I gathered that we had left because the world was no longer safe. When I was older, my mother let me come back with access codes to the Mature Room: where grown-ups learn and remember.
By then I had become a woman. I stood tall and awakened. Some desired me, others paid no attention. Before me, a man with a long silver mustache handed me a copy of Hours Magazine and smiled mischievously, muttering seditious things.
In a comfy arm chair lined with green felt, I sat. Current events, a war, pop culture icons, spanned the interior pages. An article in particular stood out, the one that I was searching for:
Underneath the World: Beating the Heat and Living Free.
Excerpts caught my eye:
"... ordinary for a burgeoning city. Texas delegates highly discouraged the act, decrying it as a bizarre return to Jim Crow era society."
"Clarence Dunsmorre, acting chairman of Dallas chamber of commerce and self made entrepreneur, is funding the digging, already boasting a rapidly expanding investment base."
"... folks don't want to triffle with the poor, the needy. It's time to find some breathing room and peace of mind for us middle class individuals."
I held the magazine, its edges crinkling in my hands. An entire world removed from me, at my fingertips. I asked myself, "why?" but knew the answer. It set me free.
To be Continued.