Denise Callaway’s Picture Choice: 1st
Title: Lost Pages
There was a time that we were a great power. Now, we live in tiny shacks on the back twenty of people’s minds. No one really wanted to be associated with us. The Shimora broke us and then stashed us away, making us slaves. The few Eccledians left could be counted on a person’s fingers and toes. Many of our tomes were destroyed. We had a few, however, wrapped carefully and hidden in the walls, loose stones giving us a place to slip a few pages here and there. We shared them, passed them from shack to shack, read in secrecy.
Books were the first to go. Entire libraries burned to the ground. Shamly ran to my house in horror. “They attacked the library! Who attacks a library? What do they have against books?”
I stepped outside and could see the glow from my house. Even at that distance, the roar of destruction could be heard. “It’s not the books, Shamly. It’s what they contain that they fear.”
“We would have taught them to read!”
“Some do not wish to learn. Some wish to remain in ignorance.”
“What are we going to do?”
“We are going to live. And we are going to save as much of the knowledge as we can.”
Shamly and I gathered a few of the other Eccledians and we gathered what we could, slipping away from the chaos. As we hid the tomes, we could hear the screams of our neighbors. The extermination had begun. We continued to travel, carrying what we could on foot. It wasn’t much. It probably could not recreate a civilization. But it was a start. The words, the letters, that would be the building blocks.
Finally, we stopped, near the edge of the wood at the foot of the mountains. The caves were a secret that the Shimora did not know about. We hid for awhile. A few hunted. Others gathered from the wood. Knowledge hidden in the recesses of our minds awakened. We had read about these activities. Soon we were putting them into action, surviving.
Kevian learned how to filter the water and soon we learned how to use the herbs we gathered to make tea. Elian and Shamly would sneak into the Shimora trash dumps and scavenge supplies we could not gather or make. Jars with lids, dishes, eating and cooking utensils, and pots. Soon we were rebuilding. We had a fringe society built upon refuge.
When the Eccledians discovered us, we were no longer perceived as a threat. They laughed at our ragged existence. However, the point remained that we survived. They came at us with violence and anger. We maintained our vows of peace and survived. We kept the knowledge and lived. We were still the keepers of the tomes and we continued to teach our children.
Left alone, we slowly began to rebuild. Our homes were simple so we didn’t draw attention to ourselves. They had taken our city homes and trash built up around them. Ignorance produced piles of refuse. We sorted and gathered what was discarded and made it useful again. And ever so often, a lost page would be rescued, added to our small library. Knowledge was worth the sacrifice. We protected it with our simplicity. The Shimora would one day destroy themselves. For now, we bided our time, keeping the peace and gathering the lost pages of society.
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Denise finds herself lost in a field of dandelions. With one blow, her dandelion dreams transform into the words on a page. Some of those dreams have found their way to her website: https://lostinafieldofdandelions.wordpress.com/