Foreword

Why did i write this story?

i would have to admit, the idea came from a dream. i dreamt of illumina's
ascension, and the emptiness i felt afterwards. i dreamt that i was
calling her name, pleading with her not to go. i saw her eyes, looking
longingly down at me, her hand reached out, as if to take me with her.

this story did not begin as a commentary on parenting, but it looked like
it turned out that way regardless. i do hope, however, that you who are
parents, that you do think about your child's feelings. i know that with
this new 'generation', people are becoming more sensitive to their child's
feelings, but i daresay that there are still many parents out there, who
would not give half a thought to trampling through their child's feelings
and self-esteem. a child is not a doll, a plaything that you can play with
when you want to, be mean to when you're feeling mean, and put away when
you don't feel like playing.

either way, for the better or for the worse, i am going to write this
story. like my other stories, i think that each person will get what they
want to get out of it. it's not a depressing story, but it is one of the
more 'darker' stories i've written as yet.

-
Prologue

why am i writing this?

it's been at least 20 years since i last saw her, yes. there are stories
now, rumours that say she can be summoned again. but who am i to believe?
i am old now, not filled with the impetueousness of youth. i am old now,
and my memory will soon fail me.

i am old now, and soon i will die.

i've been called many names in my life; a radical, a betrayer, a savior
... i suppose there is some truth in all these names; but who am i to say?

ah, megan victoria, if only you were here now; you would see what i have
become; an old and bitter man. if only you cold see me now.

but enough of that; let me tell my tale, and perhaps then, you would be
fit to judge me.

-
Act One: Childhood

When i was young, i lived with my parents in a modest house in the
suburbs. It was a wonderful little house; the adorable white fence that
marked her border, completele with a quaint swinging door that squeaked
when it opened for you. Stone steps, cracked with age, led visitors to
the wooden front porch, and the white door that greeted them. The roof
was servicable, that is to say, it did not leak often, and the silvery
sound of water rushing along the sills in their customary hurry kept me
company many a' stormy nights.

Her name was Jenn Lynn, and she was my friend. We were one of a kind, we
were. As it was the fashion of the time, her first name was a combination
of two names, not unlike mine; Cody Renolds. Back in those days, our
computer accounts were coded by the first two letters of each name; hers
was Jely, and mine was Core. kids those days would call each other by
their account name, after all, that is how we wrote to each other. i
would call her jelly, and she would call me corey.

jelly lived next door with her father, a single parent. our families use
to be great friends, i remember. there was this once where both families
went on a picnic together, to one of the few nature reserves that the
government hasn't sold off. i had never seen anything like it, and
wouldn't, at least not for a long time; pristine green pastures as far as
the eyes could see, bordered by tall, majestic trees that reached the sky.
jelly and i ran, feeling the clean recycled air, chasing after a silly
lamb or goose, one of those few creatures sanctioned by the government.
those were happy times indeed.

jelly and i built a treehouse on this huge cedar tree bordering our back
yards; fairly close to the fence to jelly's house. on hot summer nights,
jelly and i sometimes sneak out after we were sent to bed, and we would go
and sit in the tree house. sometimes jelly would bring some hot choco in a
thermos, and we would sit, leaning against each other, talking about
things and things to come.

"father," jelly would say, "is getting strange. i've never seen him so
angry before. he doesn't laugh anymore." and again, she would say, "he's
never yelled at me before. but yesterday, he did, just because i dropped
a fork on the floor."

jelly's father was not the only ones getting strange. let me tell you
about my mother.

my mother is arrogant. i think that is the only word for it. she expects
a lot of things from people, and gets angry when she doesn't get them. i
suppose all mothers are like that, but i've heard rumours somewhere, that
some mothers are actually nice. (sounds like a fairy tale to me ...)

when we get out of the hov-car, she would either make me or father get out
our keycards to open the door. she would just stand there, right in front
of the door, arms crossed, waiting. if we didn't get out of the car fast
enough, she would yell at us to hurry; she needed to go to the bathroom.

"where," i would say accusingly, "is YOUR keycard?" "oh," she would say,
"i didn't bring it today. i don't have a pocket to put it in."

when she gets back home, she expects everybody to drop everything and come
up and meet her. but when anyone else gets home, nobody comes and greets
them.

she never picks up the vidphone, unless she is expecting a call. once, i
had to run out of the shower to get the vidphone (i was expecting a call),
and i saw my mother, as i ran down the hall, dripping and struggling with
my towel, standing right beside the receiver in the hall, reading a
e-paper. i took the call, and it turned out it was for her.

"why," i would say, "didn't you take the call? you knew i was in the
washroom!" "if," she would reply, "it was important, they would have
called back." "do you," i said, "think that other people have nothing
better to do but to call you back?" "yes," she would say, "as a matter of
fact, yes, i do expect that."

and it wouldn't have mattered if you were in the middle of saving the
world from a virus outbreak. if she wants you to do something, she'll do
and say anything.

"stop," she would say, "doing whatever you're doing, and clean off this
desk for me." "but mother!", i would say, "i'm compiling this program
right now. if i leave i won't catch the errors." "i," she would then say,
"have guests coming over tomorrow at 6pm" "i'm home all day tomorrow," i
would say, "can't i do it tomorrow morning?" "if," she would say, "you
don't clean it right now, i'm going to. and i won't be responsible for
anything that you're missing."

if she had to do anything, she would make a martyrdom out of it. "oh," she
would say, one hand tragically wiping her forehead, "i've been doing all
this housework for you since you were little, can't you even do this one
little thing for me?"

this is no idle threat. once, when i was little, maybe six years old, i
kept a memorial can of AirPop. It was the last of its kind in production.

"you can't," she would say, "keep food in your room. keep it down in the
that cabinet where we put the other foodstuff."

of course, to my horror, the next day she had guests over. now, she was
always against soft drinks in the first place. "there," she would say,
"is too much sugar in them." so there is never any around the house.
but now, since she has guests over, she is obliged to serve something.
you could probably guess what happened.

"would," she would say, "you rather have your mother be a poor hostess?"

guilt, as it appears, is attached to everything she says if she wants you
to do anything. she would always demand everything to be her way. her
way, of course, was the best way, the most efficient way, and the ONLY
way. if you didn't do things her way, it was alright with her, of course,
but you will never hear the end of it.

"if," she would say, "you did it MY way, you would've saved more time."
"if," she would say, "you did it when i told you to, this wouldn't have
happened." "i," she would say, "would have rather given birth to a rotten
log. at least it would move when i kick it." "i," she would say, "would
have rather given birth to a cake. at least i can eat it, and it wouldn't
be completely useless."

i suppose all parents get angry once in a while, but i think these are
terrible things to say to a child at an age when children rely on their
parents for moral and emotional support. telling children they're
useless, or that their ideas are worthless at a small age does not help
their self esteem.

sometimes i do wonder how my father put up with her. but i guess that's
love for you. i suppose i can go on and on about my mother, but that
won't help this story. it's just that jelly and i would exchange stories
like these.

"you," jelly would say, "are lucky! at least you don't have an older
brother! older brothers are mean." then she would put her arms around
and hug me. "i," then she would say, "wish we were related. you would be
such a perfect little brother." and i would look away and blush and she
would giggle. she was always impulsive with displays of affection; to me,
anyways.

it happened the summer i turned 10, and jelly turned 13. Her father
became unemployed after one of those social reform groups came back into
power. "They," jelly's father would say, "are always talking about how
they are for the people. it's more like they're for their people." my
father, know how hard it was to get a job, offered jelly's father an
interview with his company. something happened though, i'm not sure what;
i was young then, and was not suppose to involve myself in these matters,
and jelly's father well ... cracked.

the genial, friendly man that we all knew became withdrawn, unfriendly.
he would never come out of his house unless he had to. he would keep all
the curtains in the house down, only to scrowl at us from behind them.
the pile of empty liqour bottles at the front didn't help our impression
of him either.

"i," jelly would say, "can't take it anymore! father has never hit me
before, but he did yesterday, just because i didn't fold the bed sheets.
he is becoming unreasonable!" i, of course, would say how my mother has
always hit me, and i have had to bear it.

"but," i said, "i know how you feel."

jelly would smile weakly, placing a familiar hand on mine.

soon after that, one night, she told me her plan.

i didn't approve at first, of course, becuase i was scared for her. i
don't want her to go; we've grown up with each other since we were little.
but she just looked at me, her tears dripping slowly down her bruised
face. i was crying too; i couldn't stand the thought of not having her
there.

i remember it was cold that night, and we had each brought our blanket,
but it was clearly not enough to keep us warm. long time ago, we learned
that if we shared blankets, it would be much warmer. that's what we did
that night; we huddled together underneath our blankets. she put her arm
around me underneath and hugged me.

she planned to leave the next night. i took as much packaged food as i
could from my house, as well as a few other things she asked for, and met
her at the foot of the tree. i gave her my backpack, filled with food,
little comic books, and a letter that i wrote.

"here," i said, "this is all the money i saved from my allowance." my
parents never paid me to do chores, but they gave me an allowance. for a
normal ten year old boy, of course, this would be great. but my parents
expected me to pay for the public hov-bus that i had to take to school, so
i didn't have much left over afterwards. but whatever was left, i gave
to her.

she gasped in surprise. "you don't have to do that!"
"oh," i smiled, "but i want to."

she opened her arms, and hugged me for one last time.

"you," she said, "are the only person that matters to me. when i make it
out there, i'll come back for you okay?"

"promise?" my voice choked with emotion.

"i promise." she said solemnly, and kissed me on the forehead.

and like that, she disappeared from my life.