July 5, 2016
By Rainalee BRONZE, Ridgewood, New Jersey
Rainalee BRONZE, Ridgewood, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

     Mildred Montag turned the knob of the wooden door to her hotel room. As she stepped onto the carpeted floor, she found that the room was fairly simple and consisted of a bed, mirror, and three walls of television. One wall was playing Family, while the other broadcasted the CBS News, and the third wall displayed Tom and Jerry. The room was ablaze with cacophony while being overwhelmingly serene at the same time. The last wall, however, was painted a sickly yellow and consisted of a small window that was ever so slightly ajar. The artificial fragrance sprayed into the room pitifully failed to disguise the putrid smell of burning electricity and pollution billowing up from the streets below.
     The lights flickered.
Mildred’s frail body struggled to lift her luggage from the floor to the top of her bed. Her bony arms trembled from the usage of her nonexistent muscles, and her pale, almost translucent hands tugged at the handles. After much struggle, she got her suitcase on the spring mattress without much triumph. Mildred then entrusted the bed with herself as the bed barely vibrated from the impact. Slowly, as if in a trance, Mildred proceeded to open her luggage by unzipping the zipper in a robot-like motion; she heard the click, click, click of the slider making its way through the teeth. When the slider reached the end of its journey, Mildred flipped open the lid and scanned through what was left of her belongings- four cotton dresses, a pair of red highheel, a makeup pouch, and a few undergarments. Mildred looked up and was forced to look at her reflection from the mirror across from where she sat.
     CBS News lit up a few shades brighter.
     An embalmed corpse stared at the women. The corpse’s face was pampered with eggshell white powder that gave off a greyish tint, and its crimson red lips brought out a stark contrast. The numerous injections of botox under its eyes was less than successful in uplifting its sunken sockets, while its yellow, decaying teeth failed to hide her usage of tobacco and the occasional rolls of cannabis.Overall, the carcass of the homo-sapien was a putrid thing consisting of bleached hair, hollow eyes, and cracked lips. Nonetheless, the corpse was the ideal figure of society; the target of admiration from the infinites just like her. Mildred put on a smile, and the reflection of the corpse smiled along with her with a bit of a twitch every second or two.
     The road below buzzed with honks and beeps and the sound made when glass shatters on the floor.
     Suddenly, Mildred’s seashell went mute. It was an occurrence that happened sometimes in between intermissions, and Mildred had grown used to it in the past few years. Usually, Mildred would absentmindedly ignore this breakage of the stream of sounds, but this time, Mildred felt a slight stir; the feeling was subtle but enough for her to be able to direct her thought from her “entertainments”. She felt annoyed, disturbed even, due to the fact that she couldn’t figure out what made her react. The rusted gears inside her head seemed to creak into motion, and Mildred felt a headache (something that she felt  reoccuring after the the unfortunate incident involving Montag and his absurd obsession with books). She struggled. All the logic, education, and common sense she had acquired from living in this world shouted at her to ignore the feeling, to just let the wind pass, but the more she tried to shake it off, the feeling got more prominent.
     ‘Boredom? Hatred? Pain? Embarrassment? Emptiness? Jealousy... Emptiness?
     The sirens wailed.
     Mildred racked her head to find the source of the foreign yet familiar feeling.
     'It must be because I lost my “Family”… No. Maybe if I ask the receptionist to put another television on the fourth wall…' Mildred panicked. She was unable to prevent the inevitable.
Mildred looked at her empty eyes; the empty room; the empty sidewalks. Then it dawned on her that she felt empty. Like a hollow tree that feigns its health with its outer bark and branches, only to reveal its lifelessness when a trigger sends the tree falling, crushing, breaking. The realization wasn’t met up with a surprise nor any sort of shock; it was confronted with more of an understanding, an acknowledgement.
     A corner of the ceiling chipped.
     Mildred looked back at the mirror. She no longer saw a corpse, nor did she see herself. What she saw was a little girl. A little girl trapped in a grown woman's body. Unable to mature and grow off of society’s hollow teachings and plastic education. And every time the little girl picked up a crayon, a book, a leaf, the world snatched those things away from her, and in place gave her a television, a seashell, a “family”. Mildred was a seagull from the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico; she ate up all the plastics and the garbages, and while she felt so full, she felt so hungry. While she swallowed everything the society gave her, she couldn’t help but craving something more because deep down in her subconsciousness, mildred knew what was right from wrong.
     The screens crackled with electricity as a crack in the wall formed.
     Mildred’s eyes lit up from what was once a dark blue hole. It shone as little particles of water gathered up in her tear duct, and wealth up into a fat sphere until it exploded into a teardrop. Her tears came, at first, slow and steady, until Mildred led it escalate into a full on sob. Her body shook as she wailed almost stupidly in front of her reflection. Sensations she had never felt before- agony, satisfaction, sadness, filled her up little by little. Mildred felt sad, not for herself, but for the little girl. She wanted to run up the the girl and feed everything she was starved out of. Mildred desired to stroke her brown hair, and teach her the concepts of love, and nature, and morality. The girl would be taught that she wasn’t a mere salamander, but a legendary phoenix. The girl would grow up to be a strong women who would raise a child to leave behind her trail of existence on the planet. The girl would then grow up to be a Mildred Montag, not a walking corpse.
     Finally, the bomb exploded.
     Buildings toppled one another like a game of dominoes. Windows crashed into millions of shards. The police cars, the ambulance, and the “firefighters”, all of whom supposedly “cared” for their citizens screamed along the road, only to crash into speeding cars. Outside the window, the grounds could be seen visibly shaking, and clouds of dust rolled up into the air from the impact of the military weapon. Planes zoomed past Mildred’s hotel, and in a steady rhythm, more bombs were dropped.
     Boom. Boom. Boom.
     Mildred’s own room shook. The fluorescent light above flickered rapidly until it simply turned off. The walls ceased its noise to a rigid static. The window cracked in half, then in thirds, then in fourths, until it exploded into showering crystals. The ceiling fell out in chunks now, and dust over shrouded the room and engulfed her body.
     While all this was going on, Mildred continued to sit on the bed calmly. She put on a brave face, thinking that she wanted to go down as Mildred Montag instead of a screaming corpse. More chunks of the sky fell around her. Mildred let the last roll of tear drop from her chin to her lap as the phoenix ignited with blazing fire.
     At last, the structure of the square room gave into the ceiling, and the hotel tumbled onto Mildred as she took her final breath.

The author's comments:

     This piece is inspired by Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451". Although the protagonist of the novel is Guy Montag, I chose his wife, Mildred Montag, as my main character. Many people describe Mildred as a bland character who represents the general population of a technology-obsessed society; however, I took a particular interest in her character because her subconsious depression and suidical motives brings out the characteristics of humanity deprived of their right for innovative and independent minds.

     "Chicago" is a description of Mildred Montag's last moments. In those last moments of living, Mildred realizes the cause of her emptyness, and realizes where she first met Montag.

     Although this piece isn't ideal for those who haven't read the original novel, I hope that through this piece, Mildred inspires and avocates for human insticts to think independently. 

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