Her tongue is bruised—swollen and tender for several days now. Because she’s been biting it during the evenings she spends with the anti-historians. Because she was afraid thoughts wouldn’t be enough to restrain it. So she used her teeth to hold her tongue back from the fervent articulation of the concerns and dissenting sentiments building up within her mind.
You don’t understand why she attends those meetings if she takes such issue with anti-historian views. But sympathetic to her pain, you bring her mint-anise lozenges and herbal soup, as well as books and gossip to distract her from the discomfort.
When you visit, she tries to communicate using telepathic technology that’s still in prototype. Which is frustrating. The algorithms don’t read her thoughts very well, and she has to rethink what she’s trying to tell you, often multiple times. Even saying thank you is harder than it should be.
When you’ve both had enough of that, she flings away the thought-transmitting headband, and the two of you settle into just being and doing. Being in each other’s presence. Being quiet and appreciative—aware. Doing crossword and sudoku puzzles in her little living room. Doing the dishes, after making the smoothies that constitute 90% of her current diet. Taking walks. Looking at the young maple leaves stretching themselves out to become green hands that will hold sunbeams in midair. Listening to the juncos and warblers this fresh foliage now hides from the world. Then, in the evenings, being audience to viola concertos and comic monologues in downtown venues.
It’s all cliché but comforting. Comforting because it’s cliché. Cognitively easy, setting her mind at ease.
Through these wordless hours, she comes to better understand what drew her to the anti-historians: her desire for respite from the rigidity of the past as determined by others, for shelter in the subjectivity of personal perspectives on time’s passage—a yearning to privilege memory over history, existence over origins. The anti-historians want what she wants—separation from humanity’s collective, definitive past—but for them, this must be the permanent modus operandi.
They want nothing less than the total elimination of historical records, of history as a discipline. To her, this is akin to negating gravity; what she wants is periodic suspension in a flotation tank, not eternal weightlessness. She is certain that if carried out, the anti-historian agenda would be irrevocable, compulsory and debilitating for all, as if inflicting inescapable blowback from the violation of society’s longstanding pact with time.
To un-anchor humans from their past is to recast them as a different species—a new kind of intelligent, amnesiac animal. A stranger to its progenitors and thus to itself. Feral and dangerous.
Then, as the two of you paddle a canoe to Semantia Island in the clear brightness of a Wednesday morning, these thoughts lead to a cognizance she didn’t have in the company of the anti-historians: seeking the obliteration of the past accords it a tremendous power, as turning anything into one’s enemy will.
The past is already powerful, she reflects as the river rocks the canoe. And it does forge the choices we face, but it does not make the decisions for us. The present is our time to decide.
This feels like a truth the world is at last confiding in her.
While the canoe continues downstream, she still feels the ache within her mouth, but she is more aware of the sensations in her other muscles—the tightening in her arms and back each time she pushes the paddle against the weight of water and, almost paradoxically, against the river’s flow.
With you seated behind her, she sees only what lies ahead: water, wooded mountains and sky. The river glints as if to tell her it’s ready for summer, the sun like a febrile hand on her neck urging her onward into the timeful landscape.
Fascinated by the ways in which the literary arts can serve as a mode of metacognition, Soramimi Hanarejima writes innovative fiction that explores the nature of thought and is the author of Visits to the Confabulatorium, a fanciful story collection that Jack Cheng said, “captures moonlight in Ziploc bags.” Soramimi’s recent work has appeared in various literary magazines, including The Flexible Persona, Black Dandy and Pulp Literature.
Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.
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