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The Lark This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Did Lark really want to live this way? For hundreds of years more, would she be able to inhabit a vacuum of pipes and mechanisms? Unlike the life of her every counterpart back on Earth, her life hadn’t grown from a base and into the air. Her life hardly resembled a tree, but rather a flickering point in space—a point that had thrived not on a base but on change, adapting to every passing development on its straight-line path. Confined to the innards of a rocket, existence but played a soaring point. Existence didn’t enhance, contract, or progress in building upon the past but rather reacted to the moment at hand. The then and the now remained mutually exclusive.

Lark sailed the ship for nowhere, floating about a jumble of toys and tools entitled to men now far, far away. These toys and tools belonged to others who would never again touch them, but their ownership rendered Lark a slave. Ever since she was born, she had lived chained to tubes and wires whose names she did not know, but she could never protest for fear that forces far more powerful that her humanness would cut short her life, and with that, a glimmering sliver of hope.

Given that her sole purpose, as defined by people back on Earth, was to trail a path to lands unknown, she had absolutely nothing to lose but her life. And in her present circumstances, she sometimes wondered if the loss of a life even came with a cost. Isolation would drive anyone mad. Lark often asked herself if her still, silent world could ever trump the seductive, boiling tempest of death. Who needed hope when death would immediately guarantee all she had ever wanted? Why couldn’t she break free and float into space, bidding farewell to the ennui that had draped her world? She had looked at all the rocket’s mechanisms long enough to know how to disconnect from them. But even if death trumped stillness, Lark always came full circle in concluding that hope must trump death. A beautiful life, yet to come but still out and about, had to trump death. She had enough faith to hold onto her directionless vessel and wait for things to change.

One would never imagine that parents could name their slave of a child the happiest creature in the animal kingdom, but when they knew the newborn was destined for a lifelong experiment, what more could they give but some semblance of future prosperity? In the form of a name?

Lark had never seen the faces of those she was meant to serve, but all the things that the spaceship’s software had taught her pointed back to the invisible hands of her fate. Whoever they were, and whatever they had done, they expected her to land on a planet in some distant galaxy and demonstrate her capacity to survive. A chip ingrained in her brain reported back to the Earthlings on an hourly basis to inform them of the nonexistent happenings that permeated the ship. If she finally landed somewhere and survived, then all of the planet would escape the cataclysm yet to mangle the Earth and reach her location of settlement. And she would finally confront the very men responsible for her cage of a continuation. Maybe she would shriek into their faces.

But she would most definitely hammer them into her newfound Earth.

After all, if she could never contemplate the Earth to which she wanted to return, why should the totalitarians of men inhale the Earth to which they wanted to go? Lark chewed the shadows of these men as she passed her day, gazing at a sky of shifting machines, dancing cables, and churning grayness. Yes—machines, cables, and grayness. Welcome to the realm of Lark.

She couldn’t imagine Earth on the basis of her realm, but she could still peer through the
window and clump the stars together in contriving a utopia. On this utopia, she found reason to
retain her sanity. On this utopia, she found the polychrome that cracked through the grayness. Everyday greeted her with a new friend or a new discovery, and Lark saw great purpose in her being. The tyrants paid their prices, the angels paid their respects.
She didn’t need to be the happiest person in the kingdom, but rather a person in the happiest kingdom. And Lark would still live up to her name.



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