The Maron family was cheerful as they sat around the wooden table eating their first meal of the day while the faint light from the rising sun made the kitchen more and more visible. As Jane got up from the table to extinguish the candles, she glanced out the makeshift window. The beauty of the land had long passed and as far as the eye could see lay despoiled land of waste and ruin. Directly in front of their small home, remnants of the road onlyserved an infrequent wanderer. A dispirited expression covered her face as sheremembered this same road when she was a child. Memories of jumping rope with herfriends, taking long walks with her dog and riding her bicycle were suddenlyrushing through her head. She began to cry when she thought she saw traces ofchalk on the street from all her games of hopscotch as a child. But withtremendous sadness, she knew she couldn't because, along with the chalk, allforms of the once-advanced civilization had vanished.
Suddenly, Jane wasawakened from her deep thoughts by the sound of her son's voice.
"Mommy,what's wrong? Why are you staring out the window?"
Jane wiped her tearsand turned around. "Oh, nothing," she lied. "I'm just watching the risingsun."
Jane and her husband, Mark, knew that their young son and daughterunderstood nothing of the past civilization. The children had no knowledge of aworld which depended on possessions such as cars, planes, telephones, robots, andother machines of convenience; a world which benefited greatly from the masteryof artificial intelligence. This civilization seemed almost ancient now, eventhough Jane knew that it had been less than ten years since the war. That fatalwar of bombs had left little in the world for those who survived. It ravaged theearth and destroyed the many gains of mankind. For those left behind, it had beeneasier to return to a primitive society than to restore themselves to theiradvanced civilization. These memories seemed irrelevant now, and the childrenwere happy with what they had. Jane and Mark feared they would only upset andconfuse the children by explaining what was missing from their lifenow.
Jane walked over to put turf on the fire as her husband got up to dohis daily chores on the small farm they had built behind their house. She turnedto her two young children and said,
"Time for your writing and mathlesson. Go get the slates from the closet."
As her children ran withexcitement, Jane remembered doing so much of her school work on a computer as ayoungster. When the children came back, Jane began the writinglesson.
"Now, I'll say a sentence and you write it on your board,OK?"
"Yes, Mommy," the children answered.
Jane began imperatively,"The man was walking on the moon as ..."
"Don't be silly, Mommy," herdaughter interrupted. "Nobody can walk on the moon."
"Well, children ..."Jane began, but then stopped. She didn't think her children would understand ifshe tried to explain that man had once walked on the moon. So she went on withthe lesson until her husband came back. He carried enough food for the day: fresh-picked vegetables from their garden. They grew everything they neededexcept for a few things like sugar and salt which were bought from a man in anearby town in exchange for potatoes.
She and her husband enjoyedproviding for themselves, and yet, they still missed the luxuries of colossalclothing and food stores. She had grown up with these luxuries and, at times, sheyearned for their convenience. Yet, they knew they must learn to live with theway the world was now and stop thinking of what used to be; they would never moveforward if they kept dwelling on the past. For their children, they now hoped theworld would provide them with the one jewel they had never had: the jewel ofpeace. For without this one possession, all the riches of man would come tonaught.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.