Something’s not right, he thought. Something’s not right at all. Surprised by a sudden fright, he frantically looked around in an attempt to find out what was causing his distress. Though he very well knew it was caused by his own atypical actions.
From his spot, sitting on top of the hill, with vast wastelands behind him, he had a perfect view of the city. It wasn’t the only city on the planet he knew, but all he knew, was this one. Towers as high as the sky rose up in front of him. Grey, they were because the scientists had proven that to be the best color. The best color for what? an involuntary thought asked him. He urgently told it to be silent. Millions of them, lived there. Millions and millions crossed paths on the straight streets, going to the offices, as they willfully worked the Cycles away. That’s how it was. That’s how it had always been. And, according to the posters, the ones with the smiling face of the man in charge, that’s how it will always be.
But something was not right. He just knew it. It was really rather obvious actually even though he wasn’t quite able to wrap his brain around the thing that the ‘something’ actually was. ‘It’s almost as if I’ve never been taught to think this way,’ he softly mumbled. Only to immediately clasp a hand over his mouth and look around to make sure nobody heard him. As no one he knew had ever uttered words like them, he wasn’t sure what would happen if anyone did, but instinctively he knew to be careful. There had always been whispers…
But no one was there, so he assumed himself safe for now and resumed looking around.
In the far distance, he could see the Víola Mountains hovering just above the ground and right below their perpetual and brilliantly clouded haze. The shimmery curves and twirls moving around in the center of the golden sun-lit mist, set the range ablaze with speckled purplish pinky pastels that were so delightful, they softened the hearts of all that looked at it for more than a few moments. Thankfully, the protective lenses he was fitted with at birth, guarded his heart from doing so.
On the other side, his gaze met the endless stretches of the Forest of Fée. It was rumored to be inhabited by creatures so light and joyful, a tingle would pluck at the heartstrings of all those who encountered them, setting a forever-worry free in the process. Fortunately, the vast sea of giants with cornflower-blue crowns, gold and silver vines, nourishing fruits, and hollow dark brown stems, kept safely swaying and releasing their sirenic scents behind a massive wall of reinforced concrete. Phew, he thought, happy his worries weren’t at stake.
It was the flower. Of course. He knew. The flower he had found on the tiny square balcony that was attached to his tiny square apartment that sat in the humongous square tower in the middle of the immense square city. That, was at the root of him being there where he wasn’t supposed to be and thinking what he wasn’t supposed to think.
A tiny flower had stood in the middle of his balcony this morning. A poppy. It’s red so bright, it almost confused him more than the strange sight of the fragile living creature there where there had never been one before. He knew what flowers were, of course. The painting in his living room told him the story of a vase of tulips every single day. It was also said that the Forest had countless flowers strewn at the bottom of its trees. But he did not believe that to be true as he had never seen anything like it.
‘A flower,’ he had mumbled while rushing back to the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth. Upon placing the toothbrush in its holder, an unthinkable thought had come to him that had resulted in an unspeakable action. He had decided not to take the pill. The one from the jar that read:
MANDATORY: FOR YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY
TAKE ONE PILL WITH WATER BEFORE THE WORK CYCLE BELL
Not ever, had he not taken it. Nor did he know anyone who never had. He had had no time, however, to think about what he had not done. Or to take another look at the flower. He had brushed his hair, jumped into his suit, grabbed the suitcase standing next to the door, put his hand on the doorknob, and turned it when the bell rang.
On the outside, the full Work Cycle, was spent as it always was. Meeting. Computer. Reading. Meeting. Problem. Problem-solving. Meeting. Computer. Problem. Problem-solving. But on the inside, he had felt himself unraveling. So much so, that he had even started drawing a picture of the poppy in his notebook. Drawing! A flower! At work! It was unheard of, and he made sure to tear out the page, crumple the paper, and flush it through the toilet before anyone could see.
When the bell rang to signify the end of the Cycle, he had, for the first time in his life, turned left instead of right. And had kept on walking. Past the outer skyscrapers. Through the gates of the fence. Ignoring the judging stares of the guards. Acknowledging their warnings to be back before the dinner bell. And for the final stretch, he had taken to a run to get up the dirt-covered hill.
And now he sat there, watching as the sun set over the mountains and as an internal war began to take shape between his softening heart and his forever-worries. The worries won. He ran back. Took the pill he was supposed to. And gratefully let his light go out.
Bi-weekly, short, fictional stories around a philosophical theme for you to ponder on (or not). The stories are stand-alone, but might just all end up being scenes adding up to a full-blown novel…
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