Against The Tide
Her old bones creaked.
Mornings were definitely slower these days.
She loved the mornings, particularly these late Summer days. Reminding her of her youth. Student days. Lying on lawns surrounded by books. The giddy excitement of discovery. Seeking shade. Slipping into the water to cool, strong swimming strokes parted river weeds, startling the insects that skated across the surface.
Ah, memories. Precious memories.
She was allowed these Remembrances.
They weren’t encouraged. But then, they weren’t discouraged. They could hardly stop her from remembering. Her bones might be creaking but her brain was as sharp as it had ever been.
Here, in the Bibliothèque (her choice, so much better than The Hub, Zone 4, or whatever anodyne allocation they had apportioned to this place she loved so much), memories were held dear. Records faithfully kept. Texts read. Images pored over. Memories triggered. Moments recalled. This was a seat of learning. A place where minds expanded with endless possibilities.
This was a place of Hope.
He sat on the edge of the bed, mentally checking that all his faculties were up and running. Same routine, every day.
He’s not as young as he was.
The ‘kids’ still call him ‘Professor’. He smiles indulgently. Those were the days.
He started the day as he always did, holding the picture frame, kissing her beautiful face, his eyes still misting over after all these years.
The Remembrance does him good. Reminds him of Love, and Good, and Truth.
They gather, every day, at 9.
The importance of routine, a routine they have all chosen, not one that is imposed.
Their little garden provides beautiful tomatoes at this time of year; a glut. Tucked away behind what used to be the Chancellor’s digs. Old window frames magnify the Summer sunshine, ripening this treasure. Their colleague recounts tales of his Spanish upbringing, his family eventually travelling here when the droughts dried up the stream and the well which had sustained many generations. Back in the day before Migrants, even those from so close by became the subject of relentless negativity and crossing points patrolled by local Vigilantes.
Settling here; their son made them proud with his academic achievements; an expert in the preservation of seeds, Curator of the National Repository, transferred to this quiet place of learning as the dark clouds of Enforcement gathered.
He still holds the keys to the Repository; a younger man, still blessed with years more to pursue his passion. A young man with fresher memories than theirs; a passionate man who indulges them all with freshly baked bread, toasted, a rub of garlic and the freshness of tomatoes turning the surface a joyful rosy red. Every late-Summer morning. A taste of the past, shaping their present … providing Hope for the future.
Breakfast together is both a time for the sharing of old memories, but it is also a time for the making of new ones.
It had been lonely for a long while.
Gently growing old — haha, she thought, she’d been old when they were gathered, 8 long years ago — gently growing even older.
They talked, of course, of the ‘old days’, wondering how it could have happened.
The professors of politics had been isolated. Put to work, they’d heard. Real hard labour out in Zones 6 and 7. Their memories were dangerous. Their ideas and their learning were not in accord. The rules of democracy and fairness and freedom did not follow the Rules. Their voices were not welcome.
They’d been taken away very early on.
All of them; their knowledge and their thinking dulled in a relentless cycle of soul-crushing labour.
All of them.
The clever, funny, beautiful man she had fallen in love with. The man who loved her with all of his huge, beautiful heart.