The Dregs of The Revolution

a story
2013-05-13 07:04:06,
2013-05-13 16:39:12
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Or: A Child's Eye View of The Revolution

It was just about high noon, and the desert sun was blazing. To escape it, 13-year-old Annabelle and her young cousins Gareth and Hayden had retreated to the tent made of a collage of old clothing and untanned chanka hides that their family had erected to block out the cold desert air  and sand worms at night. They were the only three left in the camp, both of their mothers having gone off herd the chankas to someplace where they could graze, Annabelle's father having set out to find the other Tinker families, "born Tinkers" as Annabelle's brother Henry called them, to trade dried meat for water, and the other older children having set off toward Astam Junction to steal, beg, or work as they could. All three of them were parched and irritable at being left behind. Annabelle had Hayden, who was just a toddler perched in her lap and Gareth was sprawled out on the floor of the tent next to her.

"Is there any water?" Gareth asked, not even bothering to open his eyes.

Annabelle sighed. All the water the family had was gone, as everyone had taken a bit with them, and they figured that the three of them, resting out of the sun as they were, would be alright until everyone got back. "No. And there won't be until everyone gets back. Stop asking."

"I Tirsty!" Hayden proclaimed, stomping his bare foot on Annabelle's leg.

"I know," said Annabelle, in a slightly exasperated voice, stroking the top of Hayden's head.

The three of them were silent, until Gareth suddenly said, "How come we have to stay out here?"

Annabelle rolled her eyes. "Because everyone else has something useful to do, so I'm stuck here keeping an eye on you two." While it wasn't strictly speaking true there was nothing useful she could be doing, any more than it was true that what here brothers and sisters were doing would turn out to be useful, one of them had to stay behind, and today was her turn.

Gareth ignored the possible insult to his person and sat up, saying, "I know thaaaaat. I mean why can't we live in the city, like we used to?"

Annabelle frowned. Gareth was old enough to remember what life was like for them before the revolution and their families subsequent banishment, which was more than Hayden could claim, having not been born at the time, but was too young at the time to have understood the reason, of which even the youngest of Annabelle's siblings, namely Valarie, who was eight at the time, had a vauge grasp of. She though about how to explain the sweeping political change that had brought the country to it's knees only to allow it to bounce back stronger than ever to a five year old. Finally she said, "Let me tell you a story."

Hayden, who was just learning language, but knew that word giggled and clapped. "Story, story"

Gareth cocked his head to one side. "What's that got to do with anything?"

Annabelle's lips twitched upward. "Listen and you'll find out." She readjusted herself so that she was facing Gareth and moved Hayden a bit so that he was perched comfortably on her lap. She cleared her throat then began. "Once upon a time there was a king."

"What sort of king?" Gareth asked.

Annabelle sighed. "A king of Antiford. Anyway the king..."

"Wait a minute," Gareth interrupted. "Everyone knows Antiford doesn't have a king."

"Doesn't have a king anymore," corrected Annabelle. "We used to."

Garth scratched his head. "What does that have to do with why we're stuck out here?"

Annabelle rolled her eyes. "I'm getting to that. Anyway the king wasn't a good king, and he started a war with the Prush Confederacy and..."

"What's the Prush Confederacy?" Gareth asked, cutting her off.

Annabelle huffed. "Honestly, I'm never going to finish this story if you keep interupting."

"Story, Story," Hayden piped up.

Annabelle patted his head. "Alright." She added, "The Prush Confederacy is the country that's south of Antiford," for Gareth's benefit before continuing. "Anyway, the king started the war, and everyone agreed that he shouldn't run the country anymore. What they didn't agree on was who should run the country instead. Most scientists said they should run the country, and lots of people agreed with them, but them there were some people, like my Ma, and my Pa, and your Ma, and your Pa..."

"My Pa is dead." Gareth cut her off matter-of-factly.

Annabelle swallowed. "I know. He died in the war, just before everything happened. He used to drive me around on the back of his steambike, so I could hand out pamphlets...they never did any good anyway. The scientists killed the king and took control. After that, everybody was so glad to see him go that they didn't care, and they didn't stop to think...well not everybody. There was still us. Doctor Brailik came up with the idea that there should be a king, but the people should pick him, to keep us from getting a bad one. And even after your Pa died, I went around handing out pamphlets after work, and tried to talk to people, to get them to do something to make it happen...except nobody was quite sure how we could, and then the scientists found out, and they kicked out Morris and me and Ma and Pa and your Ma, even though she was about to have a baby, and they kicked out you and Valarie and the twins, just to make a clean job of it. And that's why we can't live in the city."

Gareth flopped back down and closed his eyes. "You could have just said the scientists don't like us. It's too hot for stories."

Annabelle huffed. "That's only because we were right. This haven't really gotten better, except for the war ending, and if we'd chosen a new king, one who would rule until he died then not have his son follow him, so we could pick a new king after that then he'd have had to make things better."

Gareth snorted. "You're just mad cause you were on the side that lost."

"That's not true," she mumbled, so quietly that even Hayden had trouble hearing her.

"I'm going to take a nap." Gareth announced. Hayden squirmed forward, and Annabelle let go of him, and watched as he curled up next to Gareth. She set he elbow on her knee and he chin on her hand and watched the two of them, thinking about everything that had happened two years ago. The desert sun beat down.