Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

You asked me to meet you here when the peonies bloomed by the well.
I had to look up peonies. Had to look up how to get here, too. Which is when I had my first ‘moment’, just like you said I would.
The domes and bunkers are there to protect the Earth from us. We nearly killed the planet. Only by retreating could we let the world heal, and remove the constant threat of a war finishing the job our laziness started.
What you wanted. Where you wanted. Was outside!
How could you?
How did you?
We met on Concourse 12, Brighton Eden. The ‘old-time’ rave ran all the way along the concourse so revellers could watch the tide rise against the dome. After that, some hoped to see fish or even an enhanced dolphin. I only hoped you’d turn around.
You did. That smile. That one smile. Destroyed me: remade me. I can never go back to not knowing you, to pretending the moment has passed, that the loss is normal.
We closed in, then you took a flower from your hair and tucked it behind my ear. It smelled like nothing I’d ever smelt before, a mix of sweet and spice, like cinnamon, but not. It felt rough against the back of my ear, but really, it didn’t matter. You’d given me it.
“I’m Theo.”
You laughed.
“I’m Cleo.”
We laughed. We danced. We spent the night, day, night, together. Then you said you had to go back. I asked which dome you came from, as you didn’t have ghostskin – you can always spot bunkerers when they come up for a holiday.
I’d not heard of it, but towards the end they’d built a load of town-size Eden domes. I guessed it was one of those.
That was when you said you’d meet me if I came down in the spring. A seven-month wait? Too long. I asked you to stay. You said you couldn’t: your sister was lodged with a friend while you were here. Then you said I could stay.
“I don’t have enough eco-credits to relocate.”
“You’ll think of something by the time you come down.”
“I will? I am?”
You nodded, kissed me, and left. I offered to walk you to the station. You told me to go back to sleep. I did. When I got up, I looked up Tintagel dome.
There isn’t one. Cornwall is open land, part of the King’s Regeneration Reserve.
That one smile.
I spent two months working every job I could to build up eco-credits. Then I realised: there’s nowhere to go with them.
You said I’d have ‘moments’. It was another. I started working odd jobs. Van pickups, decorating, carpentry, even a little smuggling. I made friends. Got known. Made contacts. Found I could get to Tintagel by boat, avoiding the roving patrols and camera-controlled roads. I also found I could trade eco-credits for more tenners. Gave me a funny feeling, having a wad of untraceable money – it was liberating.
It didn’t go far… But went far enough.
Tintagel. It’s got real people doing analogue living. Not sure how I’m going to eat tomorrow, but there are a couple of places that look like they could use a carpenter.
I look down. Peonies are really pretty.
I turn, and your smile hits me like the first time.
“This is Alea.”
A miniature version of Cleo looks up at her sister.
“He came. Is he staying?”
Cleo gazes at me.
Down by the peonies, I change my life forever.