On this International Day of Tolerance, I reflected on how stone against stone, jagged against rough, smooths out all the edges. I believe that we can maintain our own sense of selves while still respecting the individual needs of others. We can do this!
I wrote this piece of flash fiction today based on a dream I had. I hope you enjoy it and its message of unity.
The baby in the car was named Charlie. He was in the front seat with the mother, covered by an old green blanket.
“May I take a picture?” “No,” she shivered, then changed her mind. “Okay, yes, if you don’t post it to Facebook."
“Facebook doesn’t exist anymore,” I reminded her. Who am I going to show, anyway, I wondered. My friend Kristen loved babies. If only the phones worked. Documenting the children as I found them was part of my routine. I don’t know how it started, it just felt important to me to capture their image in the moment that I found them. Maybe to memoraliaze how much better off thery were with me, or to torture myself with the idea that they were best left behind.
I took the baby and left the mother with a bottle of water. As I drove away in my minivan full of carseats, my eyes darted to the rear view mirror. Cartoonish flames roared behind me. The mother and her car were engulfed. I had reached Charlie just in time.
I did a huge shopping order and started cooking and freezing everything.
The kids were asleep.
I had a useless husband who in 3 hours had accomplished nothing but making a mess in the basement, but at least the kids were safe in the loft.
The government came by and took the trash. First they drove up the street emptying the barrels and placing them upside down by the curb. Then they backed up and carried each barrel back to next to the house.
This way no residents need approach the street.
The government came to interrogate people as they waited in lines.
Some people and families were decked out in red white and blue and talking about how awesome America is and how much better it would be soon.
They tended to be jocks, like everyone’s idol football player, and spoke too loudly.
Some people were blasted with air guns, some with acid, and I wasn’t sure if it was random or not.
When I got home I went through the kids’ clothing and picked out anything that had red white or blue or American flags on it and was relieved to find a flag shirt mixed in with my daughter’s pink and purple dresses.
I made a mental note to make red white and blue crafts tomorrow with the kids like necklaces to wear and look patriotic.
I pulled the shades down and turned off as many lights as possible while I cooked. I didn’t want to be seen easily for an impromptu government visit. Cooking all that food would be seen as treasonous, a lack of faith that things would go smoothly under the new regime.
I had been sprayed by the acid and was afraid to look in the mirror. Besides, survival was more important than vanity at the moment.
In the early hours of the morning the kids were roused by the smells of breakfast overriding the fragrance of ten pounds of chicken in rosemary. I hoped the smells didn’t attract the government officials, and so far so good.
But the rosemary chicken was too overwhelming and the scent of home cooked food seeped through the drafty doorway into the street.
A knock at the door. “Why do you have your shades drawn and lights off?”
“Because the children sleep better with darkness.”
I paled realizing my faux pas. The children were quietly eating in their bunks, still groggy.
I led the government to the children and I guided them in saying things like America is the best. I repeated some of the phrases I had heard at the rally.
My dumb husband said, “Then why did we cook all that food?”
“Yes, indeed. it smells like a restaurant in here, as if you have been cooking all night.” The government looked at me with sly accusation.
My husband continued his idiotic rambling until finally I was taken away and separated from the children. Then he happily lay back and opened the windows and donned his red white and blue attire. I heard the unmistakable sound of a television being turned on. How was that possible? All communications were down!
My heart pounded like a marching band’s drums in my ears.
The law was at the end of the barrel of a shotgun. I only hoped my phone wasn’t found.
The missing children of the revolution would be shot, or worse, sent to retraining classes.
I kept my eyes open and accepted the bullet that was to come.
A shot rang off. I fell over. Death was an uncomfortable thud.
Then I heard heavy breathing and a voice. “Get up, quickly.” The whisper was urgent. I felt my wrists and ankles being tugged as the chains connecting them snapped. I was helped to my feet, the tight cuffs around my ankles and wrists still digging into my skin. But I was free. I looked up into the face of my rescuer.
A singed green poncho covered her body. The fabric looked familiar. Could it be?
“It was my turn to save you. Now let’s go find Charlie.”