Miracle holds the heart shaped locket in her hand, she likes to look at the picture of her mom. She looks like her, her grandparents always say. She doesn’t remember anything of her mom only stories of how her mom walked across the Wasteland, ended up dying before reaching the gate, and the two men that found the pair. “You’re lucky to be alive,” her grandmother tells her everyday. The young woman, 16 years passing since she was found in the Wasteland, is very much like her mother, strong, opinionated, and hates the King. The old man has been kinder to her, since he quit drinking, but still finds reasons to hit her. Every time he slaps her she wonders if her mom was subject to a similar abuse (she was) and how she can escape it.
She walks down the hall to where the elevator sits, waiting for her to press the button to open the metal doors. This elevator is the only way up and down to the top of this apartment building. She makes her way to the bottom floor, waiting at a concierge desk is Mo, the only black man in the building, and the only man who’s been at that desk for as long as she can remember. Mo looks over to Miracle as she approaches the desk, “How are you this morning my princess?” She gives him a wide smile.
“I’m doing great today Mo, how are you?” Mo returns the smile with one of his own. His grey hair wrinkles at the temple and his teeth bright white.
“I’m doing well today, thank you very much for asking.” He shakes his head from side to side as if he’s checking for other people, Miracle follows his head movements. “I got you something, I picked it up from a friend who works down by the docks.” He reaches into a pocket in his suit jacket and pulls out a large red apple. Miracle’s mouth instantly waters.
“I haven’t seen one of these in,” she thinks, “A really long time.” She reaches out her hand and touches the waxy surface, grabs it and sets it on the desk. “Can you cut it in half for me so we can share it?” Mo reaches into the drawer and pulls out a small butter knife.
He makes a cut on the top and begins to slice, apple juice falls onto the desk, making a small sticky spot. The elevator doors open when the apple is halfway cut through. Mo quickly throws the apple to the ground behind his desk.
“Miracle, what are you doing down here? And Mo.” The King approaches the desk, Miracle giving the man a damning look. He sees a spot on the desk and touches it, he immediately pulls his hand away. “Is that the juice of an apple on your desk?”
Mo tries to grab a tissue to quickly wipe the juice, unsuccessfully. The King’s face turns bright red, brighter than Miracle’s hair. She stands still, the King reaches his hand to her shoulder, not once looking away from the desk. Before she can push the hand away, it clenches down, hard. The King’s fingernails dug lightly into her skin, she doesn’t make a sound. He swiftly turns his attention to his granddaughter, realizing he’s not getting the response he was hoping for and squeezes his hand tighter.
Miracle almost feels her face convulse in pain, Mo grabs the wrist of the King and lifts it off her shoulder, the fingernails scratching her skin.
The King grabs Mo, “How dare you touch me.” Mo’s face turns from a brave demeanor to a look of horror as he realizes what he did. The King pulls Mo over the desk, tossing him to the floor. Mo lets out a sharp breath and looks to be in pain.
“Mo, can you help me to leave the City?” Mo looked up from the book he was reading. Anne was standing before him, tears falling down her face. “My father wants to force an abortion on me and I won’t ever go through with something like that.” She touched the bottom of her stomach. Mo looked her up and down, she looked like the Queen in that moment, he had never noticed the uncanny resemblance.
Mo reached out his hand, “My Princess, if your father ever found out, he’d hang me in the park.” Anne grabbed the younger Mo’s hand, a reassuring hand hold. He looked down and opened the drawer, reached in with his free hand and pulled out a beautiful necklace with a heart shaped pendant on it. “Your grandma gave this to me before she was exiled by your father.” He opened it up, two pictures on either side, one side was Anne as a young girl standing with her father, a scowl on her face, the other was an older picture, a woman that looked like the Queen. “That was your grandma, I know she would’ve wished to see you grow.”
“Thank you Mo.” She reached her arms around the man’s shoulders and squeezed. He handed her a small picture already cut to fit the locket, a picture of her mother.
“I’ll call the guards at the gate and tell them you’ll be coming and that you’ll need some supplies.” He face turned serious , “Now when you’re out in the Wasteland, the temperatures fluctuate to dangerous levels from night to day, you’ll freeze to death if you go out at night, but that day is deadly hot as well. The only way to survive is to always take six ice bladders with you to keep your body temperature reasonable. You’ll end up in a fishing village, they have the most delicious apples there, we used to get them here in the City.” The King is allergic to the red apples of the village, one bite can cause him to go into anaphylactic shock. “The doctor of the village is an old friend of mine, he’ll take good care of you.” A small tear formed in the corners of his eyes. “I’m happy to have been able to watch you grow into a lovely young woman.”
Miracle starts yelling at the King, “Don’t you dare do anything to Mo.”
In one hand the King picks up Mo, with his other he smacks the young woman. “This man tried to kill me.” Several of his security staff follow them outside.
The City is an obscene vision of a power hungry drunk. The towering apartment buildings are all segregated, the nicer ones are reserved for only the wealthy businessmen, the worn down buildings are for the working class. A large park in the center is the only place in the City with any trees, three large maples give shade to the area. A statue of the King stares at everyone who passes by it.
A man throws a rope over a branch, the statue staring directly at Miracle as she swings at a large security guard who won’t let her get through. The park starts to fill with people, the sun overhead covered by clouds. The King wraps one end of the rope around Mo’s neck. A woman starts to run forward screaming and crying. A young man comes running behind her grabbing her, apparently trying his best to comfort her. The eyes of the statue staring directly at Mo. It takes three men to lift the rope, and everyone stares at the man wriggling there, unable to move. The King moves forward to address the population. “Why am I doing this?” His voice booms even in his old age. “It is and always will be a crime to put your hands on me, especially if you’re a worker.”
Miracle has quit fighting now. What does that have to do with anything? She has been around her grandfather since she could remember, and he has always had a disdain for anyone who’s working a job. The men in his security outfit are exceptions, only because they make more money than the average worker.
“Now I want everyone to get back to work, and be happy about it.” The King turns around and grabs Miracle by the arm, dragging her back to the apartment building. “I don’t want you talking to anyone lesser than us.” He throws open the doors, “Your mother did that, and look where that got her. Your father, died the same way as Mo did, your mother would’ve too.” He presses the button to go up to the top floor on the elevator. “Trust me, girl. If you don’t marry who I tell you to, I’ll find someone who will.” The door closes before she could say anything.
Miracle walks to find her grandma, checking all the rooms, and finding her in the large comfort room overlooking the park. She raises her hand, the look of shock and awe on her face. “My beautiful Miracle baby, please come sit.” She sits on the couch next to her, staring only at the tree, where several men are taking the body down. Miracle goes to sit next to her grandma. “We’re never going to be able to stop this kind of behavior, the man I married is exactly like the man my mother married.” She sighs. “Your mom was able to make it out, but she had to come back only because you would have died if she hadn’t.”
Miracle gives her grandma a look of wonderment, “Was grandfather going to kill me if she didn’t come back?”
The old woman, her hair light red after so many years, eyes daggers of blue, shook her head. “You were sick, you probably had a day or two left according to the doctor.” She looks at the heart locket around Miracle’s neck, “That’s the only reason the two men knew who you were, or rather who your mother was.” Miracle nods and touches the locket.
“What can we do grandma?”
“There’s nothing we can do, unless you want to test your grandfather’s wrath.” She touches the locket too, opens it up to reveal the pictures, the one of her falling out to reveal the picture of her mother. “Oh my, I…. I haven’t.” She starts to choke on her words. “That man took my mother away from me.”
Miracle wipes a tear from her grandma’s cheek. “Can you do me a favor grandma?” The woman nods her head slowly. “Whatever happens next, make sure the people are taken care of.” The Queen looks at Miracle, worry lines form on her forehead.
“What are you talking about?”
Miracle looks over at the window, stands and walks over to it. She can see her grandfather walking back to the building, she opens the window. “My people,” her voice rings loud over the park, causing everyone leaving to turn around. The walking turns to running as Miracle continues, “This is no way to live. Why do those who sit in chairs all day control our every move. Women, hard working individuals, let’s take back our country. No longer will money equal power, the people are the ones who will be in charge.” Miracle read somewhere that democracy used to be used in this place, and after having spent 16 years under the thumb of her grandfather, she’s done with having Kings and Queens.
The current King rushes through the door to try to slam the window shut, but Miracle moves to the side. She makes sure the King can hear the cheers from below, and with one swift move shoves the King out of the window. Her grandma runs to the window, but turns away a moment later. She stands still, looking at all the people gathering, unsure what to do next. Miracle grabs the necklace and pulls it off, she tosses it down. The silver heart falls to the ground, somewhere between the ground and the top floor it opened up, breaking evenly in half at the site of impact.