I organized and wrote a piece for the recently published FOLK coffee table book, which posed the question, “what does it mean to be a people?” to ten content producers and activists around the Western world.
I decided to make my points in the form of a short story that takes place in a not so distant future, indicating what a better tomorrow might look and feel like…
“The Day After Tomorrow”
by Jared George
“It can’t be,” thought Alba to herself as she checked her bedroom window again. For the last several weeks she’d anticipated that the day of her brother’s departure would be met with growling winds and angry rain thrown forth from a darkened sky, grey and bitter so as to reflect the mood below.
But it was simply too beautiful outside!
The green of the fields, the easy blue of the sky, and the golden yellow glow of the smiling sun formed a triumvirate of late spring colors that swirled into a heady magic—when nature chooses all of the right numbers on its combination lock, pouring forth its best features into a perfect day.
Alba had pictured it all differently, and tried again to muster up some semblance of melancholy, to embody what seemed to her the proper emotions given the circumstances. After all, Bastian would be away for six weeks, during her favorite part of the year, full of ambling family hikes, berry picking, putting on little plays under the weeping willow tree, and other such goings on.
Bastian would even miss Alba’s eleventh birthday, though he’d promised to make amends. Despite all of this, a certain excitement and curiosity now charged through her, so she resigned to let herself acquiesce to the sweeter aspects of this bittersweet day.
At this point, Alba figured she’d waited long enough to let Bastian finish his last bit of packing, and gingerly danced down the hall to his room.
“Done yet?” she inquired, gently tapping on his bedroom door. She made sure to use a light touch, so as to not be sent off again by her older brother.
“It’s fine, come in.”
She opened the door to see Bastian zipping up one final piece of luggage, backlit by rays of sunlight confidently streaming through the window, the only source of light in his room.
“If it’s this sunny every day where you’re going, you’ll come back a towhead!” exclaimed Alba.
“Ha, I don’t know about that,” he replied, self-consciously running his fingers through his reddish blonde hair.
“Mine gets maybe a little lighter in the sun. But not like dad. And you take after mom,” he said as he walked over to his little sister and messed her light brown hair.
“Besides, it won’t be sunny every day where I’m going. Those places are pretty much like here.”
Alba floated the key question: “So you’re done packing?”
“So now we can spend some time together before mom and dad and the babies get back?”
“Yes, I told you we’d have some time just you and I, just had to finish a few last things,” Bastian answered.
“So can I see the brochures again? I mean, I know I won’t be doing it for a few years, ‘till I’m fourteen—”
“Well, remember it’s usually when you’re fifteen, but I qualified early,” Bastian corrected her.
“Well if you can qualify early, I can qualify early!”she corrected him in turn. Bastian smiled at his sister’s spirit, all the more so because he knew that underneath the occasional headstrong flashes, hers was a pleasant and gentle nature. Besides, she likely would qualify early, too, especially given her inquisitiveness and depth of feeling for her heritage.
“—are packed,” Bastian finished Alba’s sentence for her.
“Show me on your phone, or tablet,” she countered.
“Maybe a bit when we’re all together later. You know we only use the phones and computers in the reading room for screen time.
“But we’ll also have lunch when mom and dad get back, then only a few hours after, dad takes me to the airport. We don’t have much time. And besides, it’s so nice out! Let’s go outside.”
Alba couldn’t argue with that, and so they stepped out the back door of the family’s timber-framed house and into the glorious sunshine.
The siblings took their usual perch on a flat clearing of green grass on the property, before it sloped downhill toward a small lake and the plots of other families.
Bastian breathed deeply and surveyed the landscape of his childhood.
“My first time away.”
Imagining what her brother was about to embark on, Alba looked up and asked,
“No, I mean, I’m sure I’ll get used to it . . . and there’s a lot to do . . . and, well, then I’ll come back and have so much to tell you all!”
“So,” started Alba, “why do you go to Switzerland first?”
To continue reading…
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