Author : Rebecca L. Brown

They hop-scotched their way to work, jumping between the numbered squares and collecting coloured stones as they went. The inner child told them they had to. On arrival, they coloured for the proscribed amount of time, the thick, waxy crayons clutched in two hands. The best pictures would go up on the wall.

They had replaced the inner child recently, moving from the almost teenage predecessor to a toddler barely old enough to qualify. There had been a general shift from skateboards and sparkling lip sticks to dollies and story time. Sally hadn’t minded too much, the glitter had gone everywhere and grazed knees had become tiresome, even when they were regularly kissed better.

Before they had the inner child, she had heard, there had been nobody to kiss it better when you fell down or make sure you coloured between the lines. With the rise of automated processes and the ban on travelling for pleasure, there had been mass suicides in a world where the majority lived lives filled with the meaningless and the mind-numbing.

This was better.

Soon, it would be nap time. Sally’s crèche mother would round her up with the rest of her group and they would go (holding hands, two at a time) to their mat. Afterwards, there would be milk and cookies and time for show and tell.

Today, she had brought a flower to show the inner child. She thought he would appreciate the bright purple colour. The inner children were chosen from those babies who were too sick to exist outside of the life support. Through their machines and speakers, they could live through their city populations. The last inner child’s favourite colour had been red. Nobody asked where they went when they grew up.

The flower was in a little vase on her desk. She drew a flower on her paper and coloured in the petals.

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