Tuesday
May082012

Empire

Genevieve Hudson




Vann unhooks her upper-limb from the plasma rebuild-drip. As usual, she does not ask, she just does it. Her radioactivity is less catching, but please Vann, keep us in mind.  A button of straw-colored substance releases from the transfer wire as the IV unsucks. The spill catches contact with the blue floor. We rub our knees. We gnash our teeth. Don't, we moan. We form fists with our foreheads. Don't get up. Vann comes to our beds. She's got something in her palm. We cannot fake the curious. Vann, we say, show us. She releases her fingers to unveil what the mothers call stone. Metamorphic rock composed of carbonate minerals, she says. Rock, we say, trying it out. Minerals. Minerals we have heard of before. Our kale juice contains these for the rebuilding. We want to know how she found it. We ask where. Where did you get this, Vann? Vann shrugs. She is the only one among us with eyebrows and we all, in secret spots, envy the soft biomaterial growing in place of our barren, thirsty follicles. Sometimes the mothers hide bites of pre-Nuclear food in their skirts to bring us. They sneak in the edibles, chew them for the mouth transfer. Vann can eat hers with hands. If the mothers come in now, Vann's behavior will cause trouble for each of us. The mothers might say no sun time. Or even worse no ferry ride to the mainland petting zoo. We only get the petting once every twenty-seven days, but Vann receives special privilege so she thinks less of it. Her infrastructure is stronger. She is almost entirely bone. She does not need the plasma drip at such length.  The mothers will pet her without fear of the catching. Vann holds the rock. We stare, mesmerized. She is sure the rock comes from before the Nuclear world, before the water wars. Water, we say, imagining as we always do when we hear such a word, what that substance might feel like. The mothers say the taste is nothing. Nothing, we repeat, searching the register for the aroma. Sounds wonderful. The empire informs the mothers that the weather has permanently slowed. Wind has stopped completely. No longer, the mothers say so happy, will anyone die from drowning. Then more seriously, from burning.  The empire will soon terminate weather entirely. Vann kneels before the wires. Her palms lifted up. The naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals stretch toward us. We cannot move from our recliners. We can only love it with our eyes. Vann says she knows a place: outside the walls of machinery and metal, libraries of stones, closets filled with vials of water.