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Witness

by Karen L Commins 11 months ago in future

A story

Under the shadow of the broken buildings they walked, silently, stepping carefully over the small pieces of rubble littering the street. The sky was a dark gray making the buildings look like ominous guardians watching their every trespassing move. She shuddered when a cold wind blew from a side street.

“Why did they do this”? She said looking up at her father. “Why would they destroy everything?” He looked into the distance and answered softly, “war, my love, each side wanted more and more until they had nothing.”

He was very proud of his youngest daughter. He knew she would be a scientist, but to actually follow in his archeological footsteps was more than he had hoped. Children these days were not interested in the past but only in each new toy or gadget and all the insipid foolishness that comes with youth. School to the average child was something to endure and leave behind quickly, but she was not average, she was his daughter and had been eager to learn and curious since she was very little. He always welcomed question after question and she had reveled in the information and attention.

“But why father, why must we keep it like this...it’s so sad.”

“We leave this place untouched so we will never forget what we are capable of doing to each other.”

Like all good students of history she didn’t just observe but questioned. He had told her what to expect, but he knew from experience that it’s quite different to actually be in a place where history happened, to feel the grit in the wind, smell the acrid dust and touch what could have been.

She stopped at one of the ruined buildings, one that looked more imposing than the rest. “What is this place father?” She said, pausing to pick up a piece of shining gold metal. She turned away and carefully slipped it in her sleeve.

“It’s where they kept their currency. Once so precious, but useless of course, after the war.” She put the shiny thing in her pocket, knowing it was forbidden to remove objects from the site.

“What could you purchase with it?”

“Well,” he said, with a trace of a smile. “The piece you just put in your pocket would be worth about 20,000 dollars, so that amount could buy food, shelter and many other goods.”

She took the treasure from her pocket and tossed it back in the rubble. Oh well...

She continued into the building stepping over a broken wall and into a small room. There were battered metal boxes scattered everywhere and she bent down to open one that seemed to be more or less intact. Her father had not yet reached the room so she quickly reached inside the box and drew out a small black book with one word on the cover. She held her breath waiting for her father to catch up and tell her to put it back. When she was convinced he hadn’t seen her take the book, she relaxed, but suddenly felt a twinge of guilt. She knew it was wrong and she would be punished for taking anything from the historical site, but she couldn’t stop herself, she needed to have something tangible to make this piece of history come alive.

They continued through the building to another ruined street. “Is it all like this” she said gesturing to the horizon.

He nodded, “yes, all like this.” They stood silent for a few moments then turned back to their vehicle at the end of the street.

Back on board she touched the precious item in her pocket, saddened by all she’d seen. As her father moved away, busying himself with dials and switches, she took out the little black book that she had secreted away. -DIARY- it said on the cover in golden letters. As she slipped the book back in her pocket, she could hardly wait to get home and read what was inside, happy that she had studied their language. “I’ll be more careful hiding this treasure.” She thought.

“Were they ever happy, father?” She said, the destruction now invisible as the blue planet got smaller and smaller on the view screen.

He put his three arms around her. ”Yes, sweetheart. I know they were.”

future

Karen L Commins

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