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The subtle act of just existing.

By DamilolaPublished 3 years ago 8 min read
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

I have never really had passion for anything. I have never had hopes, aspirations or plans for the future.

As much as there’s a thick air of lost ambitions surrounding me, lost dreams and a strong desire to fulfil plans, if I had turned 30 in what the world was 7 years ago, I would be the perfect description of a lost soul, drifting through the winds with no direction.

I remember the first time I told my mother I had no dreams or plans for my future. She had looked at me with worry in her tired eyes, before she looked away and asked for a blue button for the dress she was working on. My mother always had a habit of completely changing the topic, preferring to keep her feelings hidden until they fester and she becomes a fire-welding, yellow-eyed monster. Must have been why my father packed his things and left when I was 4. But if you asked her, she’d tell you he was a “good for nothing man” who found refuge in the arms of prostitutes that left him penniless, covered in vomit every night in front of old ritz, our local pub. But despite her strong hatred towards him, she still wore the heart-shaped locket he had gifted her on their very first anniversary.

After he left, my mother maintained her dream of becoming a successful fashion designer. She worked day and night till her hands bled to reach what she referred to as her 10-year goal. She always passed up offers to go out with her few friends, locking herself in a dusty attic, surrounded by hoarded fabrics, stumbling over tangled threads with at least 365 needle scars on her pretty feet.

The attic was her workshop, her universe and almost a simulation. For years, I would imagine her picking one of her expensive sewing machines over me if we ever happened to be in a fire. Something that was extremely likely, since my mother had ignored the pressing home improvements and spent her little income on colourful cotton and smooth silk. And I dared not bring my rebellious friends with bright hair and nose piercings over, because my mother’s 10-year goal was to become the world’s greatest seamstress. And even I, her precious rainbow daughter, couldn’t get in the way of that.

But I am so unlike my mother. And even though you couldn’t tell us apart, as I have been cursed with her long Pinnochio-type nose, and blessed with her beautiful thick hair, we are nothing alike. I didn’t have the dreams to become a seamstress, I have no talents and do not wish to become rich or successful. I lived my life the way it came at me, and saw the world I found myself in as one only to be enjoyed and explored.

As I grew older, I realised all my friends had also developed dreams and ambitions. And it wasn’t long before they had a dusty attic of their own. Heads buried, constantly planning for a future and passing up offers for fun. Hoarding books, stumbling over headache-inducing equations with at least 365 days of anxiety over exams. Ambitions and dreams became a curse, a disease, something that was taking all my loved ones away from me one by one.

But that was 7 years ago, and the world I knew has changed. Today is my 30th birthday, and I am in the midst of 500 other people in section 39. We are all dressed the same, in purple overalls, sitting around and waiting patiently for the day to pass so we can have our only meal of the day. In this world, we have no dreams, no ambitions and no trains to catch to our 5-9 jobs.

The air is filled with lethargy, nonchalance and everyone walks around in a lackadaisical fashion that will put out any burning flames of passion. The only wealth we have is the wealth of each other’s company, the most valuable possession we have is the friendship we had developed from surviving together.

There’s a woman here, who applied to Harvard 12 times, and when she finally got picked, the world as we knew it ended. A refuge who made dozens of applications to move to a more favourable country was only able to spend a night in what she thought was the land of dreams. As the days go by in here, I have observed the declination of that twinkle of life in all of our eyes. And whilst everyone lives in regret and retrospect at what they could have become, my only regret is my mother.

The end of the world is not exactly what you might think. It is not filled with intestine-eating zombies nor are we being abducted by green aliens with bulging eyes and tiny feet.

We simply had to give things back.

We borrowed the air we breathe, the land we farmed on and the water we drank. According to the earth officials, our lease had expired without warning. After a month of back and forth debates, they found no sensible reasons why the lease should be renewed for another 4.5 billion years, since we had broken so many rules in the previous one. We were outcasted onto a different timeline in a barren desert with only what we needed to survive—food, water and company.

This lethargic state of the usual on-the-go human is the perfect existence for me. Surrounded by people I’ve grown incredibly close to, no dreams and no dusty attics. Except my world is imperfect without my mother, the only person I can say I truly love.

When the earth officials outcasted us onto this timeline 7 years ago, people were frozen in time without warning and transported in large black pods through time-warping tunnels. I could either choose to be a menial worker or a member. Dear reader, you should already know which one I picked.

As a member, I got the chance to choose 500 people in my circle of friends and family. My friends, friends of their friends and friends of their friends’ friends. They had also chosen me and we all became an interconnected network of people, calculated using intersections in Venn Diagrams of probability. But my mother wasn’t available to be chosen. Perhaps we were mutually exclusive, perhaps she was lost, but she had disappeared completely and my heart was shattered.

We were warned of the no escape rule. But as you can imagine, the human nature is to rebel and a few had dared to break those rules. As much as we knew nothing of the world that was beyond our pods, we had calculated that it would take 0.0079 nanoseconds to get past the barriers without setting off the alarms. This was taken as an average based on how long it took before those who dared, exploded into balls of blinding light.

But as I blew my imaginary candle asking for just one wish, my mind was filled with memories of every single time I had done this ritual in front of my mother’s strong gaze. Strawberry cake with strawberry icing, my favourite. I had been stuck in a dusty attic of my own for the past 7 years, and my only dream, the only one I’ve ever had, was to see my mother again.

And so I decided to venture beyond the white space encompassing our new abode, and wondered if I could find answers beyond the pod. No one has tried venturing into that space for the last 6 years. And I have attempted this 6 times now. This day was going to be different because I had strategised on how to complete my escape in just under 0.006 nanoseconds. I had also calculated the risk of failing, which seemed like a minor outcome in comparison to how joyous I’d be if I were to be reconnected with my mother.

As I stepped out, every single bit of my optimism disappeared. I barely had a chance to think before feeling what felt like 1000 watts of electricity running through my body. My cells felt like they were attacking each other and every single part of my existence in my previous life came running back. That included my feelings and the feelings of those I was connected to.

I was dying, and my life and those of my loved ones flashed before my eyes.

And in a fleeting moment, I felt a very strong wave of guilt associated with my mother. I could see that she had chosen to become a worker for the earth officials instead of spending the rest of her life with me. She had chosen to be a seamstress, sewing uniforms—overalls, for each section.

She rejected me to pursue her dreams even in an apocalypse.

Before I had a chance to engross myself in rejection and disappointment, I found myself back in the only world that exists beyond the apocalypse — Earth, but in a different timeline. The only place that exists outside of the new world I was banished to is the past, the world as we knew it.

I was back to the 24th of November, 2010, on my 20th birthday, exactly 10 years before the end of the world. It was one of the days I had explosive arguments with my mother. I had gone to pick up some sewing materials from my aunt as she had instructed. We had a strained relationship and I usually avoided her at all costs.

“What are you doing here?” she said, staring intently at me as I got off my most prized possession—my pink Vespa.

“Today’s your 20th birthday and you should get your act together. Your mates have cars and 5-figure-salaried jobs, some are even married with kids!”

“You wouldn’t have a future if you keep going like this,” she screamed as I got back onto my bike and revved my engine.

I had decided enough was enough and I wasn’t going to deal with her anymore to satisfy my mother. I knew I was going home empty-handed, and would be facing my mother’s short temper and her wrath. But she seemed to follow me with the materials I was meant to be picking up. Causing me to question why she had been surprised by my visit in the first place.

“Mena, where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

I had smiled, looked forward and rode off in my pink Vespa, leaving her standing with her hands on her hips in the distance.

Sci Fi

About the Creator


poet, wanderer, writer.

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