Author: Greg Roensch

You’d be 40 years old today, my age at the time of the first strike. There’s some comfort knowing you didn’t have to live through the disasters that came like seasons – drought, famine, disease, war, more war.

I awoke one morning without sight, which happened to many of us. We were placed in barracks according to our IQ. All blind, we ate as one. Slept as one. Felt as one.

Our power came slowly at first, before blossoming into full force. We’ll use this incredible gift to improve things, I thought in the beginning. We’ll create a better world. But the generals had other ideas.

When they no longer needed us for military purposes, they used us to keep the order. To keep the people in their place.

“Why didn’t you revolt?” you would have asked. “Why didn’t you turn your power against them?”

It’s hard to explain, daughter, but we never thought to fight back. We never saw that as an option.

I still dream of you. Like last week when I saw you skipping toward me on a long sidewalk, your face bathed in sunshine as you made a point to avoid contact with the lines in the cement.

“Good girl,” I cheered, “you’re almost here.”

“I’m coming, papa,” you called out, though the distance grew between us.

“Faster, honey.”

“Papa,” you cried.

“Run!” I shouted.

I was jolted out of my dream by the familiar voice of G-5309.

“Silence,” he commanded and struck the bottom of my feet with a metal baton.

Groans came from the other bunks in the barracks.

“Be quiet,” he ordered. “Or you’ll get more of the same.”

I willed myself back into my dream, but you were gone.

Did you look more like me or your mother? I can’t remember anymore.

“No one’s to blame,” I told her. “It was just one of those things.” But nothing convinced your mother to forgive – or to stay.

Last night, I dreamt you knelt before a two-story dollhouse, like the one we built together on your seventh birthday.

“My child,” I said, tears welling in my eyes.

“Quiet, papa,” you whispered.

Clutching my fists to my mouth, I peered over your shoulder at the dollhouse, only to realize that everything was covered by thick, black ash, like the kind that fell on the last day I saw you.

“My child,” I repeated, my words drowned out by the uncontrollable sobs coming from every bed in the room.