Mother had lost her ebullient humor.The sores had taken her smile away, and the storm clouds, having broken the tenets of time, pigmented her complexion with hues of age, leaving
her weary among her timeless sisters. Her children, born without father and thus selfish, found love in only her jewels:in youth, they'd observed the strange sparkle of her skin and,
beguiled, asked to borrow some of her oil.She nodded her consent, and nodded once more when they returned, desiring more.In their cities, her children, now grown,
twinkled.She was content.
However, those who she'd given birth to and lent her shine soon realized that the business of sparkling was capricious.Their cities, which once rivaled the stars for brightness, had flickered out.They returned to her for oil, but grew cold when she whispered, with pleading voice, that she had none left.They thought her dreary skin a façade, and dug beneath it, thirsty for their precious light.Instead of oil, they found something much more valuable:silver.The silver of her bones.
Once more, her children sparkled.But, this time, the tears Mother cried were of sorrow, not joy.And sorrow, unlike the ever-changing and ephemeral happiness, was inert--unyielding.She could not reason it away.It was an object, a rusted stone laid in her core that spread its debilitation to the rest of her iron bones, until all was consumed.The flowers she wore withered.Her tears exhausted.Her voice, which she'd once sent to deliver lullabies through the skies of her children's cities, grew desperate and fearful in its final testaments, shrilling until it was no more.
But Earth was not missed by her children, for her children had found a new mother.A mother born of steel.Her heart was made of light and her skin caught all the diamonds of the night sky, but she did not sing lullabies.On the promise of flowers and oil, she took her children away from their cities and into the stars, in search of more light.Her heart was weak, and could not remain sparkling without it.
In her chambers, the humans fell into a dream.They were back on Earth, with their mother.She welcomed them with smile that rose in mountains and happiness that bloomed in flowers.The air shivered with her breath, and charged as she sang, with renewed grace, her lullaby.They were home.
May 12th, 3012 After Departure (A.D.)
"Mother," says the girl with the saffron eyes and willow body, "are we arriving?"
April 6, 2996 A.D.
In birth, she is no outlier in ship statistics.Fifteen minutes to adjust to the HydroCure, ninety-two to conquer gravity, and three to discover her voice in wailing.Nonetheless, importance was stamped onto her certificate, an omen.She was Final Generation.Birth alone made her extraordinary.
Her wailing, in time, subsides after reaching the peak of its crescendo.Her face smoothens to reveal her mother's features, but it is her father's expression that she wears:triumphant, calm.They name her Meryn, for her quiet eyes.
"Yes, dear, we are.It will only be a few minutes."The edge of her mother's reassuring smile is traced in white.Meryn's subconscious is losing dimension.
May, 3000 A.D.
"It is spring time on Earth."
"Yes.Flowers bloom and bees come out from hiding.Everything is green and alive."
"You know what they look like, right?Your teachers have shown you pictures, I'm sure."
Meryn's father smiles at his daughter's indifference."Well, soon, you will be able to see them in their real form."
"Right.On New Planet."
"It will have a different name once we arrive and start building our own cities."
"Cities.Like in Faux."
Her father nods a slow, thoughtful nod.Meryn returns to stacking her cups, imagining them now as the steel majesties she'd been shown pictures of in class.Ion, BioCorp, AgriCodis.
"If we're going to New Planet, then why do we still go to Faux?"
"Because in Faux, there is more than just steel," Meryn's father picks up the cup that was the top of BioCorp and turns it in his hands."There are cities, like in your picture, flowers, bees, trees--everything."
'But they're not real,' Meryn wanted to say, except she didn't want to disturb the contented smile that stretched across her father's face.
"You will know soon enough.On your fifth birthday."
"It's bright."Her mother's face, now entirely white, has begun to resemble origami.Meryn glimpses her own hands and is pleased to see that they are slower in disappearing than her mother.
"I wonder," her mother begins, but Meryn never catches the rest of her sentence.It disappears like dust in sunlight--by the time it appears again, her mother has changed the subject."Say, Meryn, what do you think this New World will be like?"
April 6th, 3001 A.D.
"We will celebrate there," replied Meryn's mother to her indignant daughter."Cupcakes have a better flavor in Faux."She knelt down and gently lifted the bottom of Meryn's chin with two of her fingers, making it so that her eyes drew a line to her daughter's."I promise."
Stubbornness left Meryn.She let herself be led to the insulation chamber marked with her name.M-e-r-y-n.It gave her a strange feeling.Incongruity.Like destiny being forced.
"What if I don't like it there?"
"You will."Mother's eyes go foggy as she says it."You are prepared.All one needs is her mind."
Meryn is given an orange toffee to chew as the nurses prepare her chamber.She remembers the taste of syrup at the top of her mouth and the "shhh" of running HydroCure, and then, she is in Faux.She does not recall cupcakes on her fifth birthday.
"It will be better than the ship," murmurs Meryn, unsure that the voice who says the words is her own.
Mother remains quiet.In her silhouette, her head is tilted downwards, as if she were deliberating.
September 18, 3004 A.D.
She and Father are in a Faux creamery.The timbres of conversation quiver around them.Outside, birds fly about and perch atop skyscrapers.The image is surreal, shifting from one form to another.
Meryn stares unmoved at the two vanilla tarts before her.She refuses her father's sympathy.
"But let us think about this, Meryn.If you had won, I would have had to purchase tarts for the whole combat team.Instead of having two tarts, you would have only had one."He waits as Meryn' face slowly begins to come alight.
"I suppose."A spoon is dug into the snowy surface of the first tart.Meryn moves it to her lips, hesitates, and then finally lets the vanilla meet her mouth.Her tongue is delighted by its elegant texture.
"Delicious, isn't it?"
"You know," continues Father, a twinkle in his eye, "With enough focus, you can make it taste even grander--purely with your mind."
"Imagine something you are fond of.Then, imagine tasting it.At first, the taste will be false--a figment of your mind, but then--
Meryn was already tasting the berries.Her father's words rang true:the taste was false to begin, but, in a matter of seconds, the thought of berries transformed into the taste of berries, plump and satisfying in her mouth.A laugh escapes her.
Meryn's father watches, contented by her cheerfulness.But soon, his smile dips into a frown."You can't do this on the spaceship."
Meryn pauses in her dessert."The ship.I barely remember it.When do you think we'll go back?"
"During childbirth, I presume," Father's brow remains furrowed."They'll wake you up."
"Maybe I'll stay there for a while once I'm awake."
"Stay?What would possess you to stay?"
"And it will be better than Faux.It will be real."It is her voice, but it is not her body that is producing it.Such disengagement.Arrival was approaching fast.
"Yes, Mother, the New World."Meryn squinted in the light to discern her mother's figure.The brightness distorted it into a mere sliver.
"Meryn, have you ever considered that, perhaps, this is our home?"
December 11, 3012 A.D.
Fond of subtlety, she'd colored her winter pale.For him, the subtlest of all creatures.His arms wrapped sinuously around her, his lips moderate and careful upon hers.
This was love, and yet, Meryn's heart, like her winter, was a ghost.
'I am writing my own story.'The fact haunted her, an alien to her mind.'I cannot write my own story.'
"What if we are meant to be here?"There was only Mother's voice now.Meryn was beginning not to recognize it."'Reality is but a dream.' Someone famous said that.'Reality is but a dream.'"
"Mother, we must wake up."
"How do we know that it isn't the other way around?The spaceship could be the dream."
"Mother, listen to yourself!"
"I am listening.See?You can do that here."
Please, Mother, she wanted to say, but she was waking.
"Who is to say the blind man cannot see?"
"Who is to say."
Waking is not unlike dying.Sensation rips Meryn from her body--or connects her to it, she cannot tell which.She does not know what to make of the need for oxygen, the pain in her right arm, the chill of the HydroCure--her lack of control over it all.Her body moves before her mind can react--a first--jolting up from submergence and shuddering to fill itself with air.Her left hand moves instinctually to her right wrist, removing the feeding tube.
Carefully, Meryn makes her way to her mother's chamber, which, by some distant memory, she knows to be the one on her right.She steps slowly and numbly, her naked body bitten by cold, unused to this new reality.
The woman inside the chamber marked Nea Vorne is closer to the image of Meryn than her mother.The real Nea Vorne is young--barely in her twenties, her mild face and crimson hair untouched by age.
She is asleep.So is Andrew Vorne.
Permanence gnaws at Meryn--the wet on the ground where her feet tread, the unyielding steel at the ends of the room, her mother's slumber.For a fleeting second, she thinks to cry, loneliness too heavy a burden on her heart, but then, she falls into a peculiar state.Turning around, Meryn walks back to the chamber marked with her name, wades into the HydroCure, and goes to sleep.
"Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you're just a reflection of him?"
~Calvin and Hobbes
© Copyright 2017 Diana Christina. All rights reserved.
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