Modus Operandi

Modus Operandi

A Story by Rowe Boat

a dystopian short story


Modus Operandi

Before I was old enough to notice the world, I played with flowers. I hid my best ones under rocks and never noticed if they died. Those were the days of Charles Dickens, of Hemingway and of the Greats. Those were times of wonder. Wonder. It charged thought. It spurred development. It fueled the desire that hid inside of men, the desire to ask ‘what if?’.

It's not like that now. That's what they told us. They told us that we shouldn't wonder. There was no reason to.

"Why wonder? They would ask.

"We know what needs to be known." They’d insist.

Those big men on pedestals, they were the ones who told us so.

"Our libraries are full, our offices too. We know what lies beyond the stars. We know the earth. We know the creatures."

The men in grey told us that they were right, and, in fact, they were. We did know of the earth, of the sky, and of the creatures. We knew. It was methodical. Constant. Enduring.

"Why wonder?

The star charts from my childhood are burned now, each intricately delicate map now merely ash on the streets of our broken city. They took all of our belongings, the men in grey.

They burned the playthings of children, and, in return, gave them pencils and times tables. It was respectable. They told us so.

“Reproduce and Prosper.”

They let every living man know of this goal, this one goal.

 “The frivolity of imagination is but a hindrance unto a clear mind. Rid yourselves of the pestilence. We live in the age of power, the age of the New Industrial Revolution. Let your thoughts of wonderment go. We know what needs to be known.”

It was ground into our minds and mentalities like a virus. It was implanted subtly, and there it festered.

When I was little I played with flowers. I played with flowers and made conversation with the earthworms. Innocence. I was the living, breathing definition of the word. I was innocent with a propensity to wonder.  I’d frolic. We all did, the kids of the inner city and I. We were the band of wild ruffians, the team of silent snipers, sometimes even the sophisticated group of grownups who wore our mama’s silky robes while we drank apple juice martinis- dry. We were whoever we wanted to be, and it was beautiful. It really was. As we got older, some of the kids lost interest. Familiar faces would disappear from the playground one by one, only to be spotted every once in a while at the supermarket or some such place. I never understood why they wouldn’t come back to play. They went to school, all of them did eventually. I did too. But even so, before I fell sway to the system’s nagging and prodding, I would simply play. I learned how the plants grew and what kinds of butterflies liked my mama’s geraniums best. I asked my dad about the stars and learned about Andromeda, Ursa Major and the all the formations in the heavens. I wanted to know. I would learn my letters from my books and color pictures with my mama’s best pastels. They were special, and I was careful.

 I would wonder.

“Imagination is for the foolhardy, the weak, and the people who do not understand.”

The men in grey insisted that this was true.  They took away our color. They took away our sense of play. They claimed that it was for the bettering of society.

I was but 12 summers when they painted the town grey.  Books of poetry were destroyed and the smoke from burning of the art institution clung to the earth and to the air far into winter. They were making a statement. It was a ‘power move.’ That’s what the adults said. I just thought it was silly. Who would want to take such beautiful words and put them to ash? I searched for an answer, but the adults just told me to hush and practice my numbers.

 It’s been 6 winters since they took away our freedom of thought.

The playgrounds are empty.
The flowers are dead.
The sky is a wasteland of light pollution and neglect.

Wonderment is missing. One must never lose a sense of wonder. It pushes people to ponder why things are the way they are. The greatest pleasure is the pure joy of being astounded at the incomprehensible nature of the universe. When it is lost, everything else becomes lost. Obscured. Distant.  I know that a sense of play always lies in the minds of children, though.

Now that I am old and wise enough to see past my own life, I can hear the sounds of laughter coming from the hills. Those same hills I played in, the ones out back. I can see the scurrying of children at play in and amongst the trees. They sing the same songs we did and they dance the same merry dance as we. They play. They play with the earth, the sky and the creatures.  Play is inevitable, it’s how any child copes with reality- with wonderment. It’s the one tangible bit of magic. Before I was old enough to notice the world, I played with flowers. I hid my best ones under rocks and never noticed if they died.

© 2013 Rowe Boat

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Excellent writing and as Marie said, a bit depressing. That was your intention, I guess.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

zSad and depressing, but very well written.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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2 Reviews
Added on January 23, 2013
Last Updated on January 23, 2013
Tags: new, short, dystopia


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