“Woah, ah, mercy, mercy me… ah, things ain’t what they used to be. Where did all the blue skies go? Poison is the wind that blows, from the north and south and east. Woah mercy, mercy me, yeah… ah, things ain’t what they used to be. Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas — fish full of mercury. Oh Jesus, yeah, mercy, mercy me… ah, things ain’t what they used to be. Radiation underground and in the sky, animals and birds who live nearby are dying. Hey, mercy, mercy me, oh… hey, things ain’t what they used to be. What about this overcrowded land? How much more abuse from man can she stand?” Lyrics excerpted from the song Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), from Marvin Gaye’s (R.I.P. April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) 1971 album, What’s Going On.
Inevitably, potentially, in the (not too?) distant future…
The day begins with a gasp of shallow breath; the air in her family’s village is quite thin in the mornings. It makes going to sleep easy but waking difficult. 10 year old Carries rolls out of her bunk with eager anticipation. Today it’s her turn. She’ll get to spend the entire day in Garden where the air is thick and rich. Sharing it with her also is bestie Tamtam, tending to the 2 fawns the girls have helped raise.
Carries set about dressing and brushing her hair when there’s a knock at the door. Opening it she finds Tam smiling and cradling a handwoven basket. They made the baskets in natural crafts class last week to honor some long forgotten traditions. Each basket contains 2 small precious eggs that are to be cared for per lessons in Garden. There’ll be no lessons today as it’s a holiday. Celebrating a special event that only comes once a decade and hasn’t occurred since the girls were birthed.
Greeting her friend with a smile Carries gathers her own basket. The girls chatter about excitedly for a moment until they hear the Garden bell. Hand in hand they skip happily down the hall to greet their fellow gardeners.
Meanwhile, on the bridge overlooking the village, there is an equally exuberant greeting overshadowed by a somber undertone. Two young men, exchanging shifts for the first time, are excited to take their positions as Shift Captains. Yet there is a touch of remorse as they discuss their predecessor’s departure.
Both had returned to Garden willingly, without ceremony and with accepted resign in fulfilling the circle. They had both chosen their seeds that would be instilled within them, and hoped for regrowth. One however made a comment in passing that few in attendance understood. He referenced an old film no one had ever heard of, saying, “Well at least we got 20 more years than Logan.” The other former captain had laughed… then went to sleep. Two others had gone with them, without remark. Three newborns were delivered the next day — balance restored.
The rest of the day passed without remarkable incident. As evening drew on, the village in its entirety gathered in Garden amongst the fruiting trees and shrubs. Small livestock, sensing the excitement, wandered about their human caretakers in expectation. The birds and insects flitted about their own business, caring not for the ceremony of mankind.
A one and a half acre expanse of rich soil and fresh decomposition played host to the village’s 126 inhabitants. Some were holding well-worn, hand-me-down signs and banners, ready to raise them when the time came. Others were chittering excitedly amongst their number, oft casting a side-eye to the captain on deck who would signal the events beginning.
And so it was that at 5:43 p.m. (former E.S.T.), Shift Captain Helmly raised his arm in salute. At this all eyes turned toward the decade-awaited cause for holiday, for celebration, and for hope.
They oohed and aahed at the spectacle before them. Holding up little ones and making sure all the children could see for the first time.
At 6:15 p.m. former E.S.T. Helmly lowered his salute. Many wept, as the view was obscured, as the life-sustaining starship with the fading identity of The Village on its hull completed its passage of planet Earth on its 10 year orbital track through the solar system… Happy Earth Day 2236.
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