adjective : relating to or denoting an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice.
"the dystopian future of a society bereft of reason"
noun : a person who imagines or foresees a state or society where there is great suffering or injustice.
"a lot of things those dystopians feared did not come true"
We were wrong. This is not the dystopian future that everyone thought would come to pass. The dictionary definition of the word Dystopia reflects a world of great pain and hardship. This new world is something different. The ashes of a culture that once was, and the Phoenix that was born of it.
For centuries, humankind has always feared the end of the world. They thought that the skies would be polluted with radiation, mutated monsters would emerge from laboratories, and that the remaining humans would become scavengers. They would dress in stollen military attire, and goggles and air ventilation masks would be on every face. Buildings would turn to rubble, food would be scarce, and all life would eventually fade away.
None of that is true of this place.
Every man has a job, and every woman takes care of her family. Every person is housed, and every home is impeccable. Each estate has 13-foot ceilings with white crown molding in every room. My room and that of my parents have beautiful dormer windows that look out over our plantation. The home we live in has two stories, and we have Servants that clean and take care of us. My mother does our cooking. She's been teaching me, so that someday I may cook for my own family.
In hindsight, the stories people came up with about the time to come were ridiculous and far-fetched. While the previous world was destroyed, we are better off for it. At least, that's what we're told.
From books I've read, it seems like life has receded to a time before. We were forced to regress and return to a type of pre-modern society. Maybe something bigger than all of us decided we were ungrateful for the gifts we were given, that our intelligence and technology made us sinful, evil, and cruel. It had to be taken from us for the human race to survive.
And now, life has begun again. This time, more modestly.
Frith is the name of the place we call home. It's bigger than a state but smaller than a continent. I've read that the word "Frith" means something similar to peace or calm. I would say it's a fairly accurate naming. We have plenty of food and water, we are comfortable, quiet, and no one wants for anything. There is no such thing as war. Or maybe, no one to do war with.
"Adelaide! Supper is on the table, wash up and come downstairs." My mother called to me from the bottom of the staircase. I stood up from my bed and put away my journal, using my necklace as a bookmark. My room was large with plum-colored walls and white trim. My bed was soft and to my liking. My dresser had enough clothing for daily use. Hundreds of books lined the shelves along my walls, the only form of entertainment I could enjoy. My bathroom had fresh soap, which smelled of lilac and blackberries.
As I washed my hands, I looked up at my face. My eyes were blue and my black hair fell just below my shoulders. My nose wasn't too pointed, and my chin wasn't too sharp. I liked how I looked. Sometimes I wondered if this face had always belonged to me, or if another consciousness held it in the time before. I had a lot of questions about the time before, though none would be answered by me asking. My parents wouldn't know, the Servants would never tell.
I had no memories beyond the past 3 years. I woke up in this house, with my parents and our two Servants. The Servants told us our names, our address, and what my father does for a living. I always wondered if they had saved us from beyond the gates, and kept us safe while the new world was created.
There was one day that I went outside of the gates of Frith.
No one is ever supposed to go outside the gates because it's not safe yet. The whole world hasn't been remade, just our portion of it. That's what the Servants say. But I was curious about what lay beyond those gates. One day, I was able to slip through without anyone noticing, and I planned to return before anyone knew I was gone.
While I was walking, I found what used to be a forest. Acres of shriveled black trees, stumps, and soot. I had never seen something so... horrible. While we had plenty of forests in Frith, something like that had never happened to us. As I walked through the remains of the forest, something caught my eye. There was something glimmering through all the ash. I walked toward the glimmer and bent down to get a closer look. There caught on one of the branches and laying out in the sunlight was a silver heart-shaped locket.
I picked it up, looking it over in my hands. Had someone dropped this coming into Frith? I wondered to myself. Even if it had, I knew I'd never find its owner. No one could know I had been outside the gates. I quickly tucked the necklace into my dress pocket and began to move on.
A hand grabbed me from behind.
My heart sped up, I had never been touched so roughly before. I squirmed and fought the man holding onto me, dragging me by my arm until I saw the gates. The Servants from my home were standing there waiting for me.
"Hello, Adelaide." One of the Servants said.
The burly man who had grabbed me dropped me to the ground. My arm felt like it had been pulled out of the socket. The Sevants helped me up, and I dusted myself off.
"Adelaide, it is time for your program. You wouldn't want to miss it would you?" The other Servant said with what seemed like actual concern. Though, I didn't believe they were capable.
"What program?" I had never heard the term "program" before, outside of my books. No one used televisions anymore, or technology of any kind. Televisions were part of the outlawed knowledge. And if you knew about them, you weren't supposed to share that information with others.
"Your program will start soon, we should get you back to the Plantation. Come with us now, Adelaide." One of the Servants took my hand and pulled me forward toward home.
I thought about whether or not to resist them, and what might happen if I did. "When we get home, could I have a minute to clean myself up before my program?" I asked. "I want to be able to enjoy it fully. I don't think I'll be able to if I'm covered in soot." The Servants looked at each other, and then at me.
"That would be acceptable." They said in unison.
Once we arrived at the Plantation, I ran up the stairs to my room and shut the door. I grabbed a pen and notebook from my desk and ran to the bathroom, locking the door behind me.
Adelaide, you made it outside the gates. You found this necklace in a burnt-down forest and were then forced back inside. The Servants brought you back home to watch your "Program". I don't know what the program is, but if you don't remember any of this afterward, this is what has happened.
-Adelaide Finch, July 12th, year 3 of the new world.
I closed up the notebook, using the locket as a bookmark, and stuck it under my sink cabinet. I could hear the Servants walking slowly up the stairs toward my room. One of them knocked on my door. "Adelaide, your program is ready. Please come down and join your parents in the lounge room." I turned on the faucet and washed my hands, looking at my face in the mirror.
My parents were sitting on the sofa in the lounge room. My mother's golden hair was spun into a perfect bun as always. My father smoked a cigar, talking about how the railroad construction around town was interfering with his business. "Hello, mother and father." I greeted both of them before sitting next to my mother on the sofa. "Hello dear, how was your day?" she asked genuinely. I sometimes wondered if she was my actual mother. "I think that is what the Servants want to talk to us about."
It was the first time I was erased.
I cleaned up and met my parents in the dining hall. The Servants placed our food on the table and left us to eat supper.
"My, this looks wonderful, Jolene." My father exclaimed, cutting into his steak. "Thank you, Travis, it was just a little extra salt and pepper this time." My mother looked pleased with herself, enjoying the boiled potatoes and carrots very much. I picked at my food. My appetite these days wasn't what it had been. I was grateful for the good food my mother made, but my heart had a feeling of... heaviness? That is how this feeling would be described in one of my books.
After supper, I asked to be excused and went up to my room. I pulled my journal back out and looked over some of my previous entries. The first entry was from July 12th, year 3. I kept writing each day after that for six months. And then, the dates start over.
Another entry from July 12th, year 3 was on the following page.
We were wrong. This is not the dystopian future everyone thought would come to pass. The dictionary definition of the word Dystopia reflects a world of great pain and hardship. This new world knows no pain, no hardship. No emotion, neither joy nor sadness, exhilaration or grief. A world without consequence, meaning, or life.
My name is Adelaide Finch, of Firth.
And I am trapped within its endless inception.
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