Hopes and Memories
Edited by Elizabeth Rose
Before the elephants learned to speak
Before the creaky thumbling of the town’s watermill would wake the sleepy heads of Mir, Gen Anesis began with light chores around her home. Moving like a graceful ice-skater, Gen moved in eights around her father’s desk, arranging the few loose papers. She tip-toed over the mopped floor, and slurped up her licorice tea resting on the kitchen counter. The family was still asleep, and Gen enjoyed the morphing of night’s blue into bruise-coloured dawn. Gen always moved like a dancer, each gesture of her body graceful and exonerated.
Gen did not know the kitchen, her father’s office, the living room, and the bathroom had been cleaned the day before. And the day before that. Every morning, Gen deep cleaned her family home. She simply followed her instinct, and where her long strides took her. Inexplicably, the townspeople of Mir had no memory; within their city walls, history, story-telling, and memory were unknown words - words that felt foreign and uncomfortable on their tongues. They were empty shells of words, all letters, no meaning, and not one person in Mir would care to impart such upon them.
Mirians would spend their days as they pleased. Some were passionate cooks, and around noon each day, the smell of onion and bell peppers would fill the serpentine streets. Some loved to paint, so their houses and pavements often changed colour (sometimes even during the same day). Frankly, Mir was a chameleon town.
Naturally, the townspeople often fought - whose turn is it to take the piles of garbage? Why are the people of Rattar, their first neighbouring town, threatening with war declaration again? Gen giggled at the havoc of a day in Mir, watching her neighbours dance, stumble and run around. They reminded her of worker ants stuck inside a formicarium, busy with themselves, serving a queen with no name.
“Darlings, I am off for today!” declared Tobias, with his thunderous voice. Tobias avoided calling his wife and daughter by their names, since usually in the mornings he could not be sure which one is Gen, and which one Teresa. Yet he was certain they were his family; the walls of the Anesis’ house were covered in family images, with three wide smiles gracing each photograph. The house shook as Tobias slammed the door, and Gen got to her room for a morning of people-watching, and perhaps, sketching out the map of Mir. She must have been working on it for some time, as each morning the pens, brushes, and charcoal neatly waited on her desk.
Gen watched as her father made way - passing the florists (as occupations of Mirians were never the same) with pulled daisies, neighbours’ apple flowers plucked out in their bloom, pots of orchids loosely hanging underneath their armpits. Tobias excitedly watched the fighters, making a circle around two young men whose golden skin was etched with red marks, marks of their expertise and credibility as street fighters. With her room on the last floor of their four-story house, Gen could see the town’s skyline and enjoy an expansive perspective of the world below. She looked up sunwards, and closed her eyes, floating between the worlds of her town and the one so strange, and yet familiar, the one visited in her dreams. She looked upon the town’s skyline - emerald clock tower on the right, glasshouse for strange creatures, and the planetary observatory, and then. Gen scratched her eyes. Was that a man on the roof? The “’fliers’’ were always a problem during the day, and someone had to always beg them to come down; but this strange figure seemed too calm and certain of their steps to be a “flyer”. Gen lowered her head, like a wildcat praying on its catch. Or was she prey, hiding from a predator?
Gen comes back in the next edition of Journal d’Ambroisie.