Try to Wash Away the Poison
It’s cold. Really freaking cold. January is coming up and whatever this abandoned shack is made of is not well-insulated. Still, it’s better than being out in the open where there is wind and snow. I shiver in my thin, worn jacket. More of a fall jacket than a winter one. But winter jackets are expensive. And I’m stronger, I mean I don’t know why I’m stronger but I just am. And the money I have - which isn’t much - has to go to buying the stuff we need to live. And that means I need to get Harmony a warm jacket, so her younger, frailer body won’t get sick and die for want of a doctor I just couldn’t afford. I haven’t been able to spend much time with Harmony this holiday season. This holiday season seemed like hell actually.
I miss mom and dad so freaking much. And I miss being safe, feeling like I’m not going to get sick or die. I miss not having the constant twist of Hunger and cold banging against me. I miss feeling like my baby sister is safe, and comfortable, and happy. I miss feeling like we were part of society and not just an unwanted burden to it. I miss our parents. I miss our human dignity. I miss my sister’s safety. And my own. And my baby sister’s. And I miss the rest of my family.
I have a mission this Christmas though. I have to make sure that Harmony know Santa didn’t forget her. I have to make sure she doesn’t think Santa thinks any less of her because of her new status. She must already think society thinks less of her now. But if she thought that Santa Claus thought less of her than he did before, it would break her heart. Yes, she has a hard time stomaching the fact that humans don’t care about her, but humans are imperfect, and misguided sometimes, and their opinions don’t necessarily reflect her no matter how much they affect her.
And she still has light in her eyes and a sense of self-respect in her steps and hope and rebelliousness and energy.
But if Santa puts any less thought and care into her present than he did with the other kids’, Santa who is magic and perfect and knows what he’s doing, then it would mean that she’s just a little bit less important, and there was no denying that fact. That knowledge would break her. It would break her spirit, and I don’t know what else. And I don’t want that.
I think of the extra hours I’ve been working, which were taking a toll on my health. They don’t pay much and honestly there aren’t many extra hours being thrown my way. I think of the less savoury things I’ve done. Not just for gift money but for meal money as well. The thought makes me want to die. Because this “perfect society” is a world where fourteen-year-old girls are desperate enough resort to that kind of stuff in order to feed the people they care about. Yeah this is exactly what a perfect society looks like. And I’ve been desperately saving every bit of money I could so that I could make sure Santa meets his previous standards. But there’s been no luck so far, and a polished carved doll or bundle of colourful ribbons or something is impossible too get with the wages I’m currently making. So I’ve missed the deadline, December 25th, but the one good thing about our situation is that Harmony doesn’t know it’s not yet Christmas, and as long as I can get the money somehow in the next few days ... which I don’t know how I’m going to do by myself ... she won’t think Santa thinks less of her. And the spark in her eyes won’t’ fade.
I’m hugging Harmony close to me trying desperately to give her the energy from the cellular respiration that my body is doing so that she can star warm, and healthy, and alive. The photons released from the organic carbon compound combustion that my biological processes undergo need to go to her. To keep her healthy.
“Msitu?” Her voice sounds so sweet.
“Santa forgot me this year.” My heart falls.
“No, beautiful soul, he didn’t.”
“Yeah, Christmas went by and he did nothing.”
“It’s not Christmas yet.”
“Yeah it is. There was this boy whose clothes were all clean and shiny and his hair was shiny. It was the same colour as your’s.”
“And he was in this shiny motorcycle. And he went up to me and said that Santa got hm this two weeks ago for being such a good child. He said if I was good Santa might get me something too, but only if I’m good. And then his mom told him to not talk to me because I’m probably a bad influence.” My breathing gets shallower. Honestly I don’t know how I’m going to salvage this situation.
“How do you know he was telling the truth? He might just be toying with you.”
“What if he’s not?!” She starts to cry. Okay, think hard. How do we solve this? I hug Harmony closer to me.
“Harmony I have a secret. Santa isn’t around anymore. Well, he’s alive, but he’s been captured for a long time. There is a fake Santa who everyone thinks is the real Santa and everybody writes their letters and stuff to him, but he’s the opposite of what the real Santa used to be. The old Santa used to love every child equally, regardless of every single freaking factor, and the real Santa used to make sure every child was provided for. To the kids who were hungry he’d give food. To the kids who were cold he’d give a jacket. To the kids who had no family he’d help them find a family. He gave everyone toys. And to the kids who were taught to be greedy and prideful he’d teach them not to be. But that caused problems. Problems for the rich people at least. All the new generations were learning how to love and help each other, and there were less and less people to be prideful. People weren’t worshipping the wealthy businessmen anymore, they were more focused of everyone. And people weren’t going along with the “make money for myself” model of doing things, they were banding together and helping each other and that made it harder for the ones at the top to maintain their hold. The daughters and sons of the people who were dissatisfied with this newly-forming world were very mesmerized by it. They were leaving behind their old lifestyles and using their souls to benefit everyone equally and humbly and they weren’t concerned about the meaningless stuff like shiny cars and make-up. And obviously the bosses thought their children were being corrupted and shying away from the life they were supposed to lead, they life they ’deserved.’” I make air quotations. “These people were infuriated. What was also bad was that people didn’t have child labour anymore because the children didn’t need to spend their time working in dangerous factories when they could be in school and playing afterwards.” Harmony looks at me with her big, clear eyes filled with sadness and wonder and anger and amazement and ... hope!!! Yes!!!!
“Msitu what happened? Why did they win? Why do they always win? They always win and they always shape the world in their own creepy image and they keep taking and taking everything from us.” Holy crap I didn’t expect her to be so angry. But then again she’s freezing and hungry and the world doesn’t do anything to console her.
“Harmony my baby they won’t win forever. This is just temporary and if we keep fighting and if you promise to not ever think someone is better or worse than you and if you keep hoping for things to get better then we will win.”
“Get on with the story.”
“It’s not a story it’s a historical account. Anyways, they were building a huge machine to fight against Santa’s magic. When they finished it, they brought it into the North Pole. Santa, the elves, and the reindeer saw it and were very scared. They knew this day would come though. They all came together and started to sing their magic Christmas carols and that created a defensive force field around the North Pole which kept it safe from the attackers and weakened them. But the dark powers of the machine was sucking in the magic and polluting it. The machine was getting weakened too, and it was almost destroyed. Unfortunately, this time it was just a little bit too powerful. When the Christmas team saw what happened they all got on the sleigh and started running. But the attackers had a blimp and they shot the sleigh down. They were falling into the sea. And everyone thought that was it, they drowned in the freezing cold water. But no. Because they used the last bit of magic they had to freeze themselves into the ice. Now they’re in hibernation and thier magic powers are growing stronger. And eventually they’ll be able to return to their previous job of helping kids everywhere. But there’s one more thing. The only thing strong enough to break the ice is the magic of the world finally becoming harmonious. So when the world changes, Santa, the elves, and the reindeer will be back.” Harmony is smiling. I give her a hug.
“Msitu thanks. I’m so glad that I know that. How did you find out?”
“Once it was a really clear day. There was this section of the sky that was so dark and filled with stars. It wasn’t the faintly-orangish starless thing urban light and air pollution causes. And the stars were swirling around and forming pictures. They told me this story. And they told me to be sure I told it to my baby sister, because the story was for her just as much.”
“Holy crap. We need to tell everyone.” Her big green eyes are so full of promise it’s breaking my heart.
“Maybe not now, because if the bosses hear it they’ll kill you.”
“But Msitu I wanna tell everyone.”
“Follow your heart then baby. But make sure you only tell children, and not children with high-ranking parents.”
“Msitu get me out of here please just get me out of here I hate it here. I don’t want to live like this I don’t want to be treated like this. I want to be more than a piece of machinery. I want to matter.” I feel so angry. I want to murder everyone who designed this city. But I can’t. I really really want to. But the reality is I’m a young, hungry, girl who can’t always feed her family in a world run by rich, powerful, well-educated, landowning, tax-dodging, nature-hating, apathetic, self-absorbed, powerful, wealthy men.
“Harmony you darling soul God loves you always and nobody can take that away from you. Whatever the hell they take, whatever they give or don’t give, they can’t change the fact that God loves you.”
“Can’t you do something?”
“We need to all do something together.”
“I agree. This is our song now.”
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