“I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s ours.” I pointed at mine. “That one’s mine.” I pointed at Jim’s, “That’s Jim’s.” Our small group started to cheer. “We own these, people! We own them!”
What did we own? A bunch of old metal phone booths and out houses. None of them more than a four foot by four foot floor-space. Hell, we even had to sleep in them sitting up, no room to stretch out. No water. No plumbing. No electricity. Nothing. Just a four by four box, with a door that didn’t lock. And lots of missing parts, like how most were missing windows.
But, damn. We owned them.
It was a baby step. We all knew that. Going from living in the warehouse where we worked, to having our own little town of boxes. We didn’t have to sleep at work anymore. We had real work schedules, finally. With time off, time we could use for whatever we wanted.
“Let’s celebrate, people!”
We all ran to our little boxes, looked them over, top to bottom, checked the doors, checked the floors, and roofs. The phone booths were empty inside. Not even a place to sit. The out houses at least had a place you could sit. Yeah, there was a big hole in it, and it took half the floor, but a little cardboard over the hole, and you had an actual chair.
The inside of mine had a couple of sharp metal edges where the phone had once been. No one had needed to take care of them, they ripped the guts out of them, phones, wires, everything. And the two little windows on the top of one side were gone. Only the holes where they’d been were left. A bit of cardboard and some tape, and I could seal them up.
We had paint. Different colors. Red, blue, black, white, green. Left over containers of paint, from where they didn’t use it all at the warehouse. “You guys can have this.” I could see us with a rainbow colored neighborhood.
We’d made a square of them. Kept the middle of the square empty. That’s where we’d put our garden. Try to grow some tomatoes, corn, and beans. Not much, of course, we were starting up. And we had to learn how to garden. But, it would be our food. We could eat it without having to work four hours for another burger and fries. Oh, we’d still work. We’d have to. We couldn’t feed ourselves. At least not yet. But maybe someday.
I stared up at the sky, and the bright dot of light I knew was the station. They told me it was a giant ring, that spun slowly, so it could feel like it had gravity, and you’d feel like you did on the ground. That’s where all the rich people went. The ones that owned the factories, and warehouses. The ones that owned everything.
They left, when the air started killing people. When the fires burned everything to the ground. When all the animals died. They left. Went up there. They tell me the ground up there is green, with something called grass. And they have a blue sky.
I didn’t really care. That was all dreams. I liked what was real. What I could touch. I liked my tiny four by four box. We were all spending the night in our boxes, for the first time. Our boxes. We owned them.
It was a start. It was a dream come true. Maybe one day we’d be able to stop working at the warehouses. Maybe one day, we’d be able to have families. And children. And lives of our own.
It was certainly worth dreaming about.
Saw the picture for week 81 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge and my mind went blank for a week. Until last night, when it said, “This!” You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.