Little Did I Mean | The Struggle

As with all their assemblies, giant neon lights coincided with the Unseen Man's voice:
             "I want to ask you a question, and that is:"
              However, there had been a time, long ago and not so long ago, when the assemblies were not and the marchers were, and there was another group; the festivalgoers. They were as their named described them and amongst them was the Interviewer, asking one young woman;
             "Don't you think it's a bit rough for a bird to me out here?"
             "Not really," she answered him with a polite smile.
            Not long after, as the story goes when the demeaning and deplorable marchers (now known as the Machine Men and the Machine Hearts), took place was the Fire. Many inside the assembly swore they saw the long-gone Siren as well as the long-missing Housewife in the flames of their destruction. Although they swore this, they did so privately. It wasn't safe to speak of them. Not here, not now. What was safe, was to watch the flames and hear the voices that spoke to the nation every year, the ones that had no way of knowing they'd be an annual reminder of their eternal existence.
            "That is a lot, oh my God. It goes all the way back." Spoke the first woman.
            And as always, the second woman asked, "What the hell are they doing? I've never seen it like this."
            For once, just once, the Youth wished to be alive before the Fire to the times of the Machine Men and the Machine Hearts and even to the Elegant Times. But as it were any of those times the Youth struck out to her familiar ruins with a big band swinging and singing in her mind. Furthermore, in her mind were times she'd never known but held a peculiar kinship with them. Where big cities had big bridges that drove over water, WATER! A gift they would have taken for granted, the Youth supposed as the Unseen Man told them at the assembly;
             "What is in your life’s blueprint?"
The Youth dreamed of the Machine Men and the Machine Hearts and what they had been doing before the Fire. A girl, close to her age, perhaps was smoking on her lanai when she ott not to be. Her friend would no longer ride horses through their shared desolation and they would be driving cars in big cities and there would be whispers of flowers, FLOWERS! And the spotlight would no longer be on the Harvest Moon or the girl the Youth once was.
             "This is the most important and crucial period of your lives," the Unseen Man promised at the assembly, while the Students smoked and talked. A bird sang as the Youth wandered through the ruins contemplating the Unseen Man's daunting proclamation. "For what you do now and what you decide now, at this age, may well determine which way your life will go." 
Many at the assembly agreed with the Unseen Man, as was to be expected. The Youth wished she knew what the festivalgoers would have thought of these words. Would they have changed their plans that day? Would they, too, have gone back if they could? 
            "ONCE AGAIN!" The singer belted out. 
           Dead trees laid barren on the withered and dried up ground as the Youth wandered to the cement house that used to feed so many in her world. The one that stood tall and proud like the old Cathedrals she had heard about at the assemblies.
          The Unseen Man began, "And I wanna suggest some of the things that should-"
        An echo of a woman broke through but it wasn't enough to identify the voice as it was back in the days of the Housewife or the Siren. Perhaps it was them. Perhaps it wasn't. "-be in your life's blueprint."
         Newscasters of old, singers of new crescendoed and crashed together as memories of a time yet unknown that would become everything to those beyond was rewound of the two children. They too were familiar to this tale but as to how? That would be soon determined. 
         Singers blared their tune as a young girl said, "The way I heard it was that, dad was gonna kill me."
          As always, the Unseen Man took away those thoughts as the festivalgoers drowned out his voice, "Number one, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth and your own somebody-ness."
          As the last flowers and fruits of the nation bloomed those very important children could be faintly seen in them, then again, was the Youth seeing this all in her weary and longing eyes? A murmur of a woman reminded her to keep those sentiments quiet and safe within her.
          During the assembly the Youth had seen on the screen, people of the nation from the Elegant Times all the way up and to the Fire. They were there in memory and as a reminder to those who had survived and yet the Unseen Man's words were kind, as always. "Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance."
           A young hopeful man was being asked by the Interviewer, "So what do expect to see down here?"
            The hopeful man answered as any of the festivalgoers would, "Peace, music and good times. See all the people." 
           People! That's what the Youth wished to see. As in all those people in those movies at the assemblies, she wanted to see them and know them as they were not as they were portrayed. Even the animals and the flickers of the children she swore she saw in the little life that grew now. They all had stories beyond just people of the Fire or the Machine Men and the Machine Hearts, or even the Elegant time. And she would never know a single one of their stories, not really.
            The same girl who feared her father killing her spoke on a crisp white phone, "I'm willing to do what's right, and that's why I called you. But like I-I can't- I don't want to live there anymore. I don't want to go through what I'm gonna go through when I get back."
            That would have to wait as the Unseen Man laid out more of their life’s plans, "Secondly, you must have as a basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days, as the years unfold what you will do in life — what your life’s work will be."
             The Youth in her heart already knew what she wanted her life's work to be. She wanted to tell their stories. And perhaps she could find those stories at the top of the ruins. 
              It was on the Youth's way to the top of the ruins that the particular part of the Unseen Man's speech rang true to her;
             "I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you’re forced to live so often with intolerable conditions, once you discover what it'll be, set out to do it, and to do it well. As if God Almighty called you to do it at this particular moment in history to do it. Set out to do a good job and do that job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn, couldn't do it any better."
Feeling this resonant through every cell and through every fiber of her being the Youth leaned backward and smiled to the smoky sky. She would find their stories. Who's stories? Anyones!                         
Already she found a piece left behind from the Fire. The Youth would start with the girl who only wanted to do the right thing, of course, she'd have to rewind the footage. But in the meantime the Unseen Man did as the Unseen Man had always done, he talked.
             "If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are."
                Oh how the saxophone played for him then! yet, through it all the Youth rewound and rewound footage until she found the crowd of festivalgoers, the very ones that would become infamous after the Fire.
                "Doors are opening to each of you–" The Youth remembered things that were not hers to remember. of, two girls and a boy walking down a lush street, and a lone woman getting in her car, head over shoulder knowing someone was watching her. And that, that someone would be the last to know her whereabouts. "Doors of opportunities are opening that were not open to your mothers and your fathers." The Unseen Man had ignited his own kind of fire in the Youth, the kind that the Interviewer had at the Festival. 
              The kind the Interviewer had when he talked to the Lost Girl, who had no home. "You gotta try, y'know, do it your own way. Just tell 'em, that you wanna, huh, you wanna be on your own."
              "and the great challenge facing you is to be ready to enter these doors face they open." The Unseen Man cut in only to cut off by the Lost Girl and the Lost Boy.
               "Yeah well my dad said- my dad's literally gonna kill me too," the lost Girl said with a smile looking at her new companion, the Lost Boy.
              "My dad said he's gonna break every finger, all the fingers on my hand so I couldn't play guitar anymore." There was an ever so awkward pause that was soon thrilled by the Lost Boy laughing to cover up the pain. 
             The Youth was enthralled by these stories, as awful as they were. They were real. They were about life in all its ugly and beautiful self. Fathers wanting to kill their young as festivalgoers shared their water with their muchly appreciated dogs. She could not help but think of those great cathedrals the Youth had heard about as she climbed up the ruins.
          "A commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love, and justice. As the word justice crashed over the Youth, she saw the young people that were proclaimed as the Machine Men and the Machine Hearts. And they looked no more machine then she did. They were human! A radioman interjected her thoughts, "Ruling out, long-"
             Then the Unseen Man cut in, "Don't allow anybody to cause you to lose your self-respect." The two girls the Youth saw in the film screamed their names to her. She knew them, she had to! She had to know their stories too. "To the point that you do not struggle for justice." Again, that word sent the Youth to see so clearly that the Machine Men and the Machine Hearts were so very much a lie. They were as human as she, and yet they were treated so cruelly. 
              "However young you are. You have a responsibility to seek to make life better for everybody." The Unseen Man had told them all at the assembly this, but at that same assembly, the lie of the Machine Men and the Machine Hearts were drilled into their souls. What else are they lying to us about? The Youth pondered in her lightheaded state.
             "I believe, we can transform dark yesterdays of injustice into bright tomorrows of justice and humanity." 
            Perhaps the Unseen Man was trying to tell her this! Perhaps he no longer wanted to feed into their narrative. Whose ever narrative that was, was yet to be known, but the Youth would find out. Just as she would find the two familiar girls, the Lost Girl and Boy, and all those who were screaming their stories at her, yearning to be heard. 
           "We must keep moving. We must keep going. If you can't fly... Run. If you can't run... Walk... If you can't walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving."
           And that is exactly what the Youth would do, she jumped to the conclusion on top of the ruins.             
            She'd find the way through neon lights and escape the smoky ruins of her past, present, and future. She'd learn what a plane was and make that a reality once more, there was more to life out there, and the Youth would bring it back.

          The youth were the only hope left.

          The Beginning

          The Fear

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