“The land once used to be full of towns, of kingdoms and empires. It used to be full of forests containing fruits sweeter than any candy, oceans with crystal clear water that sparkled in the sun, and cities with majestic buildings designed by the most experienced architects. But this land did not contain one single good person. The land was full of evil people, people who wanted to take over the world and serve their leader. So the country called Naseath decided to build a weapon like no other. A weapon that killed millions of people in less than a second. A weapon that spread disease and dangerous chemicals through everything, so that it would ensure that no one survived. Naseath dropped the weapon on the land, and all the beauty within the land was gone,” Mrs Susan recited from the old battered textbook. I stared out the window, out to the crumbling town of Disnia, the most southern town in Naseath. The government only funded the central parts of Naseath, the richest, most beautiful parts of the country. So we folks in the north, south, east and west had to do the best we could.
“Mrs Susan, is there any proof that shows that the land was actually evil?” one of the students sitting across from me asked.
“There is plenty of evidence, just read this textbook. For homework, write down five passages that have evidence that proves that the land was an evil place.” It was just another boring day at school, being fed propaganda produced by the Naseathen government. In the south, since we lived so close to the land, we were warned everyday by the teachers at school not to journey out of the bubble that protected us from the harsh environment of the land. I had heard stories of people who were fed up with Naseath and the government, people who wanted to start their own country, who had travelled all the way from the north, only to be killed by the disease and violent wind storms that were so common in the land. Mrs Susan then recited a passage from the government produced textbook called “Money, the Economy and Naseath Fairness for Students” on the fairness of our society and economy.
“Our country is plentiful. There is no place like it on the earth. Everyone who lives here has a life full of opportunity, joy and fulfillment. After the Equal Funding Act was passed almost 20 years ago, people who live in Disnia, Northiana, Seaport and Mountville are ensured equal opportunity to those in the centre. Naseath is truly the best country on the planet.”
I pulled out my notebook out of the rotten desk that was covered in scribbles and words marked by students many years ago. I grasped my pencil in my hand, and imagined a grand ocean, like the ones that were described in the books about the land. I started drawing and I saw what the ocean towns were like so clearly. Villages made out of terra cotta houses, children laughing and playing in the sand by the turquoise water, sea life dashing through the water, jumping out of the waves, the smell of real food cooking wafting in between the houses-
“Esperance! What are you doing?” Mrs Susan bellowed. Suddenly, 30 pairs of eyes were staring right at me. Mrs Susan stomped her way down the aisle towards me, her high heels making a clip-clopping sound on the floor.
“Will I need to send you home again, Esperance?” she asked. My cheeks felt like they were an oven. Mrs Susan picked up my book with her long, perfect fingers and gasped in horror. She knew.
“Go home immediately! Do not come to school for a week!”
“Yes Mrs Susan.” I grabbed my satchel and walked out of the room. The door creaked behind me. It would be a long walk home.
When I arrived at my old, wooden, crumbling house, I scurried inside to my room and called my mother via the CallPort. She would be very disappointed. Mum worked in the centre, but since she did not earn that much, we had to live in Disnia, the cheapest place to live in in the whole of Naseath. Mum thought education would help me escape Disnia and have a wonderful life in the centre, but how could I if all I learnt was false information? I twirled my dirty brown hair around my pointy finger that had not been washed in a month while I waited for Mum to pick up.
“Hello Esperance. Please don’t tell me you’ve been sent home again,” Mum muttered with disappointment.
“I have been. I can’t go to school for a week.”
“Well, could you please practice your arithmetic and pick up your brother from daycare?”
“Yes Mum.” I hung up. I packed my faded satchel with food and water for Sam, my little brother, to eat. I set out on the long, curvy, dusty road that lead to my brother’s daycare.
A car speeded past me, spraying orange dust towards me. It flew into my mouth and covered my clothes. I coughed in disgust. The earth in Disnia was full of rubbish and oil. When I arrived at my brother’s daycare, I knocked on the door with my bony hand. A lady that I did not recognize opened the door.
“Hi, I’m here to pick up my little brother Sam.”
“Sam Harhaan? He’s gone missing. Went outside to collect some water and never came back.” Panic rose up through my body. My heart started beating a thousand times a minute.
“Did you call emergency services? Have you done anything to try to find him?” I bit my chapped lips to try to stop me from bursting into tears.
“You know they don’t care about us in Disnia, dear. He’s been gone for an hour. We tried to look for him, but we just can’t. I’m so so, so, so sorry dear,” the lady said, her thin brown hair blowing in the wind. I turned around and ran back home.
“Sam! Sam! Sam!” Tears ran down my face, stinging my bites and scratches. I kept on running, never looking back, until I reached home. I paused and took a deep breath. Then I saw it. A hole. A hole in the bubble. A perfectly Sam-sized hole in the bubble that opened out into the land.
Can you finish the story? I will post my favourite endings in a post.