Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer
The little girl clutches into her blankets and runs her cheek over the ancient concrete veins that etch into the great wall at her side.
“I love the wall. It is strong and tall and beautiful and long, isn’t it Dad?”, she says, thinking with the scrunch of her lips.
“Tell me, again, who built it, please…”
“Again? You’ve heard this story, maybe, and this is just a rough estimate, a bazillion trillion and two and a half times. How about you tell me the story?”, says her father as he looks out through their acid-strafed hermetic bubble, and across the undulating flotsam of the now dimming Sonoran wetland sea.
“Well, in the beginning, there were no houses on the wall. There was no monorail, no shops, there were no buildings at all sprouting up and out from its sides. There was nothing. Just wall. On one side, there was wall and on the other side there was more wall looking back at it. Why was it just a wall, Dad?”
“Because the man who built it wanted a barrier, not a city.”
“Because he wanted to stop people from crossing from one side to the other. Remember, there used to be a border where the wall stands now. Many years ago, before the deluge… before the resumption.”
“Why did they want to cross?”
“Many reasons. Running away from stuff. Running toward stuff. Running stuff… Hey, it’s time for sleep.”
“What’s your favourite drink?”
“That’s alcohol, isn’t it Dad?”
“It most certainly is.”
“Belen’s mum told her that her Dad came home so drunk the other night that his auto-pilot got arrested for drunk droning.”
“Christ, that reminds me, your father will be landing any minute. Best for us both that you be found deep in Sleepsville.”
“You’re scared of him, aren’t you Dad?”
“More than fear itself”, he smiles.
“They’re going to build a pool at my school.”
“A pool. In my day, there wasn’t enough water to drink, let alone swim in.”
“Yup, it’s going to be made of transparent polymer forged in New Qalqilya. It will go right through the wall from one side to the other, right under the football pitch. I think it’s much more fun that we all live here together, it’s better than a border, isn’t it Dad?”
“It is, and you’ll be able to swim from one side of the city to the other. But you really, really, really… did someone say really?… need to sleep.”
A silent alarm flashes, a signal of the family transport’s imminent arrival.
“Buenas noche, Dad.”
“Tisbah Ala Kheir, Gal. Go to sleep. Sleep. Eyelids getting heavy, shutting…”
There is a gentle scratching and the sound of hydraulic clamps locking, as the drone settles on the pad above their heads. Dimmed internal lights automate, and a decontamination lift whooshes into life and begins to lower from the ceiling.
“Nope”, she says, awkwardly now sitting, her face burning in excited recognition as her father steps into the light. “Papa!”
“Glass of water?”, her father smiles as he kisses her Dad’s cheek and, tiredly, drops his briefcase, it too flopping to the floor with a resided sigh.
“No. When I’m big, I’m going to build walls. Huge strong walls that reach out across the dead water. And I will keep adding to them and adding to them until I find the lost tribes. We can all be together. Like a bridge. That will be good, won’t it?”, said the little girl, gesturing excitedly with the tentacle stubs of her shoulders.