Author : David Rees-Thomas

Back in 1938 before we had to move again I remember we would often go to my Granddads house for tea.

He lived in a small cottage on the outskirts of our village with his dogs, a blind Jack Russell and a very old Yorkshire terrier with 3 legs. I was ten years old and it was always very exciting for me as my Granddad knew lots and lots of old stories. My favorite was the one about the time before the Martians came when he used to travel on long journeys all around the world.

He died a few years later and we looked after his two dogs until they also died but I never forgot about what he had said about the time before the Martians. He said that there had been huge ships and long busy railways and that people lived together in huge cities full of horses and carriages and offices and shops and banks and zoos and great parks and all sorts of other amazing things. We didn’t have any of that then, not even in 1938 even though the Martians had been gone for lots of years. Our shops were boring, nothing like the one Granddad talked about and we didn’t have zoos anymore.

Even now, twenty years later, our world is sort of the same. They sometimes talk about building a museum of the Martians but I don’t like that idea. What I want to see is a ship like my Granddad talked about or a palace like he once showed me in an old photograph, something special and human. I don’t want to see the Martians, they spoiled everything, took all those things away from us.

My son will turn two in the winter and I want to feel less doubtful about the future. My wife tells me I shouldn’t complain and we should be grateful and I understand, I really do. They do their best for those of us that live and those that survived but I feel sad when I think about my Granddad and everything that’s been lost. It’s been fifty years since the Martians came and went but I wonder if we’ll ever really understand what happened and what we’re going to do from here on in.

I do have a new job now though, working on a small farm just outside of what used to be Woking that our regional government set up. We are responsible for providing the whole of the south east of England with milk and cheese and butter and we have some sheep for wool so we don’t get cold in the winter. There are about fifty of us on the farm and it seems to work quite well. People seem happy, maybe I’m too pessimistic.

We converted the old farmhouse into new milking sheds a few months ago and yesterday I found something while I was looking through the upstairs rooms. It was a small, plastic ship that had been chewed at the end so that its bow was wrinkled and torn. I picked it up and put it in my pocket and gave it to my son when I got home.

He smiled at me and I stroked his hair gently. I knew that one day I would tell him about the Martians and about my Granddad and about the time when we had ships and railways and palaces and cities and great parks and…and, well, everything. I’d tell him everything.


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