People, People Everywhere and not a Blooming Heart to Spare
(continued from Let Her Stay (pt2/8))
She felt the eyes of the gift-shop assistant on her back. He had watched her carefully as she’d entered the foyer of the museum, his blue-ribbed jumper giving him the look of a security guard. She knew that was just for show. He was not armed.
Despite the thudding of her heart, she had ignored him, walking slowly past the imitation exhibits on sale. Cheap plastic tat had given way to items crafted from more sophisticated materials, but it was still faux. Still fake. Nothing was real anymore – not the consumer-driven rubbish, nor the hearts of those in power.
She had gone straight to the window that gave the clearest view of the museum gardens and had been stood there for the past half hour – barely moving except to ease her posture and the ache in her legs. She watched. She waited.
As the morning went on, the spaces outside had begun to fill up, as she’d known it would. Tourists mostly, but also locals on a break from work, they strolled aimlessly, or took up position on benches in shady corners.
That guy in the casual suit reminded her of someone she’d seen on YouTube the previous week. He’d been ranting about the latest cutbacks in the hospital budgets. What a loser, she’d thought as she’d clicked on another link. Hospitals are for those who want to be sick. Give people a quick ending and they’d be no need for a health service. Even the name was a joke. It should be called the sick service.
She followed him with her eyes until he walked out of sight, still munching on the apple he’d taken from his bag. He must be pretty well off to afford an apple. Maybe it was his birthday. Huh – some celebration.
A young girl in a flowery dress made her heart bump as she ran into view. She could have been her own daughter. The one who died the year before from a slippery disease that could have been cured if she had access to drugs freely available north of the fence. Denied her chance at life by the arbitrary rules that forbade them to move north. Rules, and the fence.
It had been soon after the separation when the fence had been built. After it had become clear that the country could not sustain itself. Hard maths. Hard choices.
Her eyes blurred as the girl ran up to a man and was swept into his arms. He held her above his head then swung her around, easily able to bear her slim form with his well-fed frame. Easy and free to celebrate their health and vitality.
She sniffed noisily and looked away. A couple caught her attention. Dark skinned with sunglasses, their gait marked them out as visitors. Probably from deeper Africa. This was a rare sight. Money had dried up as the Sahara had swept southward, eating trees and livelihoods with a voracious appetite. The people had flooded south, pursued by the sands. Taking what they could with them, and whatever they could find as they arrived.
A man walked into the centre of the garden, stopped and faced the museum. Her eyes went to his instantly, and his locked on hers.
At last. It begins.
(continues in Let Her Stay (pt4/8))