Third prize winner of the 2015 Short Long-Distance Writing Contest.
They are planning to remove all carnivorous species from the island. Remove is what they say. I am going to make protest signs for the solar-powered animals to carry when they march on the lawn. Protest signs tend to lose their meaning when they are everywhere, as they are on the island, but it keeps morale up, keeps people busy either making the protest signs or reading the protest signs. They’ve even made protest signs protesting protest signs.
They call me a communist, a word which has lost all meaning. A word like meat or island. “Real islands don’t have bridges” signs are everywhere, though it is unlikely there will ever be a bridge. People have taken it upon themselves to protest what hasn’t actually happened yet, but might. Besides, a bridge to what?
Unlike the old days, the scientists and farmers work together, which was how we were able to row the island away from North America. No one really knows anymore what we’re getting away from. You hear stories about the mainland, that’s all. Stories about slave labour, guns, pieces of fabric that men wore around their necks to show off how they never worked as a farmer, a guy in the sky called god who sent people into volcanoes and currency that was paper—that is what you hear.
We started off on the Pacific and worked our way to the Atlantic after Canada separated from North America. Each time zone brought a new celebration and year. I hear Quebec is now where Antarctica used to be. Yes, global warming had a lot to do with it all. Now there are too many protest signs to tell. The ignorant protest the most. There are three security drones that circle the island; the children are told that they are powered by love. There are protest signs about this—“Truth has no age requirement!” Another sign says, “Solar is love!” and its meaning is ambiguous at best. This was brought up at a meeting since it was unclear what, if anything, it was protesting. Needless to say there are no more holidays.
Each child is assigned a gardener and a scientist to do their mandatory minimum education phase. They must not like me very much since I have only been assigned three children, and not very bright ones at that. As I write, I must tell them that I am coming up with new protest signs so that they can get on with their work. Writing without purpose is not tolerated. This is what history has taught us: do everything with purpose. In one hundred years no one will care how you described your sunset; they’ll just want to be able to go outside without getting killed by UV rays. Solar is love.
One child asks me what powers the security drones. “Children,” I say.