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Before Us

Marisca Pichette lives in Western Massachusetts, where she grew up exploring the woods and fields around her home. In her writing, she attempts to tackle social issues in an imagined setting, and works to further the presence and diversity of womxn, POC, and LGBT+ characters in YA & adult fiction. Her published work, along with information about her novels, can be found on her website: mariscapichette.com. Story Comment: This story was my attempt to create a "future fable," a story that might be recalled in the absence of humans, recalling certain things about us. I've been told this is an unhappy story. I don't know if it's happy or unhappy. I think it's like a lot of fables--rather indifferent to the characters involved, so long as they play their assigned parts How do you like your libraries? I think I prefer mine hard-boiled.
Once there were no dragons. From Boston to San Francisco, the horizon was empty. Once, fires only happened when you started them. Once, houses were built only to weather time, never considering that a cloud was not a cloud.
Once, they called us earthquakes.
In the far off past, things were different. A girl might walk along a road, cars speeding past her on every side. She is making her way to school (they attended school then) or the library (they hoarded books then) or perhaps the home of a relative (families were spread thin, oh so thin, then). She carries nothing, but maybe a bag. What is in the bag doesn't matter.
She is alone, walking in a noisome world. The sky is empty and bare, coldly shining down upon her tangled hair. When she gets to her destination, she puts down her bag (if she has one), and goes into her destination, be it school (a place of education in society of those times), or library (for keeping all the books away from the people who might try to hoard them), or home (separate from her own). Then she will open her mouth in the old custom, and speak.
She is very thin, and very tangled. Her mind is tangled, her thoughts are tangled, her clothes are tangled. She walks on tangled paths and looks at a tangled future, thinking about how she will further her education (going to another, larger school), and find employment (payment for labor of almost any kind). She rarely thinks about the sky, or the earth. Walking in between, she is concerned only for what she might easily touch.
Now, we know more than this girl. But we cannot fault her for her reaction, when the earth and sky closed together, meeting in darkness. We cannot fault her screams, as the light flickered before her eyes, and all the ancient devices of humanity tumbled into the abyss. Libraries cracked open like eggs, spilling their hoarded knowledge over the ground. She took cover behind a bookcase, and watched the coming of dragons.
Fires ignited in our minds, eradicating everything that came before. All that was new and old fell back, leaving only what is eternal.
No one knows if that girl lived or died--the girl of memory, the girl of the past. We have her cowering before us, unable to move her lips to the rhythm of ancient speech. No one knows if she existed at all, a hundred years ago, when we were trapped beneath the crust. Perhaps her tale is only an anecdote of the wasted past.
Once, there was a girl (or not). Once, there was a world that she lived in (or not). Once, she thought she might be happy one day.
(Or not).
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020


This story was my attempt to create a "future fable," a story that might be recalled in the absence of humans, recalling certain things about us. I've been told this is an unhappy story. I don't know if it's happy or unhappy. I think it's like a lot of fables--rather indifferent to the characters involved, so long as they play their assigned parts. How do you like your libraries? I think I prefer mine hard-boiled.

- Marisca Rebecca Pichette
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