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By Skyler SaundersPublished about a month ago 4 min read
Photo by Chintan Jani on Unsplash

In the chow line, the people snaked around to get a nutritious and balanced meal. Protein shakes and bars, wraps, all kinds of salads and sandwiches issued forth like edible print outs. In fact, the patrons had to have a sign to show that they worked there and that was it. The food wasn’t free, it was paid for by the Delaseer company to facilitate the influx of immigrants into the country-state.

One of the few times the men actually got to coexist with the women, they took full advantage, both sexes, to get to know each other. Mala walked up to the counter and received her rations. She looked up and saw a tall black man. He had the same color as her. She automatically became smitten. She conjured up a scheme in her head to get him to notice her. She held her tray parallel to the floor. Her gait remained even and cool. With every step, this produced a motion that made her go from someone just getting lunch to possibly striking up a conversation with this man.

She waited for him to come down the small set of stairs. With her sneaker, she stuck out her foot which the man stepped on and apologized profusely.

“It’s quite alright. Such is the way of life. What’s your name?”

“I’m Fenton.”

“I’m Mala.”

“Let’s go sit over there, by the window,” Mala suggested.


Once seated, they looked into each other’s eyes.

“So I’ve been driving trucks for well over twenty years.”

“Wow. I’ve been an office assistant for about ten. Ever since the Revolution 2.0, I’ve been struggling in my home state of Pennsylvania. When I think about the fact that Delaware or Smartystan is still part of the Union, it fascinates me. How low my state has sunken in the depths of despair, it rips me apart.”

“I’ve been living in this place for a good part of my life. I’d never expect it to get this bad, but we've got to recognize that this is a pretty good deal.”

“Yes. We’re all experts at something and the profits we make are based on our talents, not on position. There are PhDs struggling to find work when I’m going to be in a better place financially.”

“I can say the same,” Sheltham acknowledged. “There’s so much fuss about the differences in profits, but with the advances with synths and learned machines, we had to adjust how we get paid.”

They had been about halfway through their meals. “So is there a Mrs. Fenton?”

“Pardon me, my last name is Shetlham. And yes there is a Mrs. Sheltham, but I think she goes by Ms. Sheltham now. We’ve been divorced for two years.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“I’m not. She turned into a monster to my boys and me.”

“I have two of my own.”

“Where’s the daddy locked up?”

Mala laughed for the first time, which seemed hearty and true.

“We’re no longer together, either. We tried to keep our marriage together for the kids, you know, but It just didn’t pan out that way,” Mala explained.

“So, do you think you’ll be stepping on anyone else’s feet while you’re in the half-way house?”

“I don’t think so. You seem to have it worked out already.”

“If we––excuse me, when we get out of here, the first thing I’m going to do is take you to the Fish Doctor. We can find a sitter or we can bunch all our boys together and get a table to fit for us,” Sheltham put forth the idea. He didn’t regret or feel ashamed about it. He didn’t think he was being too forward, either.

“Yes, I would appreciate that very much. In order for that to happen, we’ll first have to graduate from this place first.”

“I’m already in line to do just that. I have to complete a few more courses and I’ll be set.”

“Same here,” Mala said. “I must demonstrate my duties as an office assistant to the highest degree. How’d that sound?”

“I’d hire you.” They both laughed. They finished their meals and raised from their seats and looked about for the trash disposal.

“If we can get together again, we will be able to have our sons meet each other,” Mala said.

“I think that would be great. Especially, we’re going to be able to get them together and understand other kids like them, in a similar situation I mean,” Sheltham pointed out with sincerity.

“Absolutely. Did you want to go for a vape break?”


The two of them exited the eating area and journeyed outdoors. The sun seemed frozen behind gray clouds which allowed the overbearing star to be somewhat sheathed in the nebulous formations.

“So, what do you think about the fact we’ll soon be in a place of complete freedom?” Mala asked.

Sheltham’s face drew dire. “I want to be happy because we’ll have full liberty. I want to say that the best way for us to enjoy our lives will be under freedom. But too few people know about it. Even in Smartystan. It’s not the total utopia people think it is. I guess, though, it is the best option.”

Mala drew from her vape stick. She was like a bird on a post just taking in the sights and listening to the words of Mr. Sheltham.

“That’s right. I think we have more of a chance at thriving in a place like that than in any other state. And it still is its own country in a lot of ways.”

“These are facts. It’s like the quicksand was removed and concrete was installed under the house of America. That’s Delaware. That’s Smartystan.”

“What do you think of the name?” Mala asked.

“I like it. It makes me smile. It’s true. No matter if you’re a plumber or a nuclear physicist, smarts come into play with whatever profession you hold. And the idea of our moral makeup is implied. If you have the virtue of rationality in your work, you must also hold it in your ethics,” Sheltham discoursed.

They tucked their vape sticks and re-entered the building with a fresher sense of who they were and what they were supposed to do.

Young AdultScience Fiction

About the Creator

Skyler Saunders

I’ve been writing since I was five-years-old. I didn’t have a wide audience until I was nine. If you enjoy my work feel free to like but also never hesitate to share. Thank you for your patronage. Take care.


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