August 25th, 2058: the last day that I was on Earth. I had never thought that I'd truly be away from my home planet.
Was it all worth the trouble?
The days prior to this date were crammed with events; events that brought tears to some, laughter to others. I cannot say exactly when those events began since everything on the stage was already set up and ready to plummet by the time I entered. I can only say that during my childhood years, the Space Train dominated most of that stage. The years of its construction had brought years of ignorance, greed, and a government blinded by a vision that blocked off the rest of the world. To some, they lived through it without complaint. But for me, and the dozen others who were forced to learn the rules that governed society, that time was a living hell.
When I was young—young by my standards today—my mother used to tell me stories of all the times that she had gazed up upon the construction workers of the train tracks. All the planning that went into it, all the money, the science, and the time that it took, were nothing more than a fantasized reality that most people lived with at the time. It did not occur a long time ago—the train tracks were completed in six years. I have stepped on four of those years, but I was too young and stupid to remember anything about a Space Train then.
Yet it seemed that the Space Train had quietly entered my life and stayed there, never leaving the spaces in my mind alone. By now, it was no longer fantasy.
I have learned to count with the train tracks. When I was in kindergarten, the teacher would make us build our own toothpick and macaroni train tracks along a giant sheet of paper rolled across the floor. With every toothpick and macaroni that we didn't eat, we had counted it into our heads, and stuck them on paper with glue and more glue until we were sure that it was going to stay. One toothpick, two macaroni, and three train tracks. Soon we had a miniature version of the same train tracks that was being built outside, and boy, were we proud of it. We had hung the whole sheet of paper all around the classroom wall for the kids of the next generation to see. All we needed then was a little train.
The Space Train appeared on its train tracks one year after. And I could only imagine that a miniature version of the Space Train appeared on those toothpick and macaroni tracks as well.
When I was young, my mother used to tell me the number of times she looked out of her window, smelled the smoggy dust, heard the drills of the machines, and seen the giant frames grow day by day. The train tracks were not made of steel or wood—they needed something harder than that. Titanium and clay mixed with marble was the way to go. These materials, like any materials under heavy construction, did not come with a quiet environment. The noise eventually got on her nerves, but my mother never complained. There was even a time when the train tracks grew so wide that she feared for our safety—that the platforms would become like a second roof for us in our compacted apartment, blocking off the sun that she always depended on to give a ray of hope. That was how close it had been for her life to be ruined by the Space Train even before it existed to its full potential.
The crowded old neighbourhood was not a marvellous place to build the Space Train, but in the eyes of the government, it was the perfect place to be 'improved' upon. The city was too full of attractions that cannot be moved. Giant skyscrapers brought jobs and tourists from around the world. Amusement parks were needed to entertain those who had too little to worry about. And the edges of the sea could only be used to persuade the rich to becoming permanent residents of the city.
My family have been stuck in this old neighbourhood for years, way back to the days of my grandparents. They have been simple storeowners, a job that could have provided them with thousands if only people were willing to buy. Their family store was located in an underground basement of a twenty-two-floor apartment, yet no one of those twenty-two floors seemed to have the extra amount to spend it in the lonesome place. When resources plummeted and everything went up in price, the store became too expensive to manage. It closed down, meeting the fate that many small businesses had to undergo. Only the big stores remain, owned by huge corporations that do not care for a moment whether you liked them or not or whether you brought from them or not. Either way, those companies will always have the cash.
It was in those times that was realized just how poor our neighbourhood really was. I had come to the conclusion not too long ago that it was in our genes; that we were always meant to live this way. No matter how hard I tried, I could not imagine my family living in the Big House, living where the rich were and enjoying what the rich had. It could have been better—everything could have been better—if only the economy was running. That was the excuse then, and this was the excuse now. The economy wasn't running. And so we watched. We do nothing but watch the rich buy and the poor pant after them. That was how it worked, and that was why we were stuck in this lousy neighbourhood with this lousy life.
A few of us had learned to escape. A few of us had learned to find other realms where they would not be cursed with the life of the poor. It worked occasionally, but we had to be careful which realm we choose to walk in to. The wrong choice could have dire consequences. When I was young, I was dragged along these realms, experienced each and every one of them that I could experience, found the one I enjoyed, and stuck it within my heart. Nothing ever stayed the same. That was the true lesson I learned.
But just like every other change that had occurred within my childhood years, I have learned to accept that things could have been much worse.