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By Becky Mate
As your father, I wasn't always this protective, daughter. In fact, there was a time I was in love, like you, and eager to free my heart and secrets.
I haven't told you this before, this reason for safeguards upon safeguards, and even now I hesitate. But, I have to trust that with more knowledge you will see that secrecy is the only best route for the continued existence of our people.
You see my restrictions and "punishments" of you as too harsh for the crime. But, harsh measured against what standard? Being grounded for a seemingly innocent comment seems tough, and you ask what happened to warnings and lighter discipline. Justice in our race is guided by our goals, not merely the implementation of policy that someone decided solved a no-longer-existent problem. In all things we must consider what is best for both the individuals and the group.
I didn't have the luxury of learning this from my father; I learned the hard way. It started about the time I first noticed that Floda, your mother, had an enchanting smile, an engaging walk, and smart taste in Paris fashion. She and I were in college, studying History of the Ancients.
Of course I had known of her for years, as everyone in our race knows of the rest, at least by acquaintance, but she had recently come from Sweden, and missed it dearly.
She told me all about the apples of Forslov, the mountain railway of Skansen, the windmills of Gotland, the murals of Nalen and the Stone Henge-like ale stones of Kaseberga. Somewhere between hearing about the "lovely, rather majestic" city of Stockholm and the castle on the island at Karlscrona, I fell in love with your mother. That's where I got her unfortunate nickname of "Tulip," from the gardens outside the town bearing my name of Skane.
But it wasn't until I was severed from our race that I really began to appreciate all we have.
Colleges, by their nature, have strongholds of knowledge in their libraries, along with strict library hours and jailer librarians ready to call curfew and bring the tomes under lock and key. A particular reference book of age-old language history had my fancy. I was reluctant to put it down. It's sheer size ruled out sneaking it out in a backpack, and of course, being a reference book, it was forever doomed to stay in the library without parole.
My only course of action was to find a good place for our literary tryst.
Had our people not been gifted with a broader sense of "now" than the perceptive librarian, I would have been caught three times. But, each time I was able to go back the few precious seconds it took to evade detection.
At last, in the dustiest corner of the library, between a fire extinguisher panel and bookshelves of forgotten subjects, I was alone with the tome.
Or so I thought.
You see, Floda had followed me, also playing the game of evading detection, both from me and the librarian.
Needless to say, alone with a beautiful woman in a private section of the library, the reference book had no contest. Unable to speak, so as not to arouse the suspicions of the librarian, busy at her final tasks of the day, we resorted to the tender communications of lovers.
A casual bump of a knee against a bookshelf brought it tumbling down, just seconds before a bomb exploded in the room next to us. Perhaps the heavy pile of books on top of me actually saved my life from the blast. Floda and six other students hadn't been as lucky.
Since our width of present time depends upon our concept of how much future we have, I was in good shape, looking forward to a long, pleasant relationship. So, even though I wasn't able to turn the clock back far enough to prevent the bomber from setting it off, I was able to break through the wall with an ax from the fire extinguisher case and contain the explosion by shoving the bomb into a cement stairwell.
Dazed, we were picked up off the floor of the library just outside the stairwell, by two of the burliest-looking security guards on campus.
As we sat ruing our fate, separated by pale green iron bars in the campus jail, knowing I'd saved 7 lives, the campus and LAPD police pummeled questions at us, wondering why we had put those other lives at risk.
To us, it seemed an injustice, but from the view of the college, the logic of their investigation found only Floda and I as suspects. A search of our respective dorm rooms found no bomb-building materials. They mistook evidence of our search for our race's roots as just a mutual passion for antiquity.
Our parents were called, hers in Sweden, mine in the Los Angeles area, but the numbers had been as disconnected as we had been from our people. We had done a good deed, but if our race was to survive undetected, we were on our own. That's the way it had to be.
Should I have left well enough alone and not tried to save the woman I loved? Should I have let events happen so that never an eye would be directed at me or my kind? At the time, I acted without thinking. There had not been time to weigh the effects of my actions.
For that I was isolated in a cage, police milling around searching my pockets for motive.
At one point I got so fed up with the bright lights and incessant questions that I "confessed." They still wouldn't leave me alone, but a friendlier cop, an Officer Reynold, got the point.
Officer Reynold brought me a plate of pork chops and mashed potatoes.
"So, Skane, how would you go about finding the real perpetrator?" he asked, confirming my suspicion that he knew my confession was false.
"People who don't make up for a mistake in their past tend to repeat that mistake over and over," I said, reciting a principle everyone in our race had been taught, usually after our first childhood transgression.
"Then you'd look for someone with a history of blowing things up?" he said, eyebrow raised.
I laughed. "No," I said, "You'd first need to determine the actual target of the attack."
"A man with a thing against stairwells?"
Again I laughed. He put me at ease. The real objective of the blast had been what was first harmed by it, before I changed history. "What was in the room just outside the stairwell, the one whose wall I came through with the axe?"
"Ah yes, this premonition you had that prompted you to break open a fire panel, and swing through the wall at the exact location to be able to locate the bomb in time enough to shove it behind the stairwell door," he said.
"I know it sounds ridiculous...," I began.
"My grandmother did things like that all the time. She knew beforehand what she couldn't know. It got my brother and I in more trouble."
"And she was black, like you?"
"Yes, as if color has anything to do with it."
"No, no, it's just that my people hail from Sweden....," I had said too much.
"And premonitions occur in Swedes more often?" he asked, with a twinkle in his eye. I mentally kicked myself. Yes, they did, but I wasn't about to tell him so. Well, not Swedes, but from another race in Sweden, an ancient race, with roots going back at least as far as the Indo-European language. Perhaps further. Our entire Origin Research Lab was devoted to finding out the roots of our race so as to explain how we were so different from the rest of the humans on Earth.
"Why don't you just toss me away, like the others?" I asked.
"Justice cannot be used alone. It must be tempered with other virtues, like compassion, respect, and love," he said, pouring me more water, "Otherwise it is the tool of the antisocial, and a means of subduing one's detractors."
"Your Grandmother's wisdom?" I asked.
"Yes, and my own observation," he said. "What was in the room?"
I repeated, "What did the bomber intend to destroy?"
He took my empty plate and cup away, and found out. In that room, in a glass case located above the bomb, had been a tribute to those students who had died in various hate crimes over the past twenty years. Officer Reynold found that all of those who had committed the hate crimes were serving time, except the one who had never been caught. The hate crime was against an Indian fellow. Pieced together with other hate crimes on the LAPD books against those from India, the officer was able to combine the information and narrowed it down to a Joey Smithers, a student who had it in his mind that he was avenging his brother's death. He never believed it was disease that killed his brother in India. For an Indian to be honored by the school was too much for Joey. The bomb was an overreaction. He was arrested.
We were, of course, let go.
It took Floda and I five years to find our people again. As a child, I had learned from an elder that our race was discovered a hundred years ago by a writer researching those with extraordinary luck. He wouldn't tell me what they did to the writer. He didn't have to. After that our people were cautioned not to "cheat."
Floda and I followed the luck. A cocky teenager, using his stretching of "now" to not only win a foot race, but win by a landslide, let us know our people were still local. It took us seventeen rewinds of time to get the answer out of him, to his credit, but he eventually spilled the beans and I went crawling back home, asking forgiveness.
After making up for the indiscretion, I was welcomed back into the group, bringing what relevant knowledge I'd gotten from the big reference book, a piece of the puzzle that was our history.
By Emit Levart
With your scales
I wish sometimes
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JOB AND I
By Sharon Olmos
Is this what it's like for the rest of my life?
Riddled with memories of a past filled with strife?
How much like Job, I now feel and compare.
I wish for an outcome like his; do I dare?
I've read it so often, it seems that I must.
His future turned blissful, and sprang from the dust.
He cried out for Justice, and what did he get?
Many problems from Lucifer, but all these he met.
He didn't know God was testing his soul.
Being a just God, He still had control.
Could I have stood suffering without a complaint?
Have I withstood trails, and showed Job's restraint?
I pray, when the time comes, that I can be just.
and accept the Lord's judgement on me, if I must.
Because Job obeyed, God's justice won out.
Now I'll do the same, and learn what it's about.
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WE BRING IT ON
By Becky Mate
is a finger
pointing at you.
Follow the finger
and you'll find
it is attached to
the moment of
your lack of love.
is your finger
pointing at you.
BEARS TAKE BACK THE FOREST
By Arlen Getty
Virtue in the Arts is a print publication of literary work on the various themes of honesty, trustworthiness, tolerance, kindness, etc., published by Art Day Ambassadors, sponsored by www.newcastleremodeling.com. Lic. #701682.
The goal of this publication is to provide an entertaining showcase of diverse writers and artists who promote a new and better civilization through their work. Each issue has works by author Becky Mate along with winners of the New Civilization Theme Contest sponsored by New Castle Remodeling, Inc. of Los Angeles, California.
For submission guidelines, email info@VIRTUEINTHEARTS.COM or send a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) to Randy Mate, Virtue in the Arts, PO Box 11081, Glendale, CA 91226.
(c) 2007 Becky Mate, Virtue in the Arts. All rights reserved. Writers and artists retain their rights.