Sunday, May 10, 2009

67 Waiting for the Hesitants

Maxine Recluse, a girl born of an idiot, signifying nothing, emerged with a frightening intelligence hence her parents abandoned her almost immediately. Raised by the state, she escaped again and again only to be captured by the electronic bars that marked her meals and residences wherever she went.

In plain English, Maxine lived in a networked world and a cashless society from which she could not escape so long as she was a minor. Her choices were suffer until she legally became an adult or find a way to live without leaving a trace of herself in State databases.

She made her choice.

For two years, Maxine became a model inmate of the state. studied industriously, allowed state education to happen to her organically, meanwhile spending all possible free time researching her own projects. Naturally her sponsors were anxious at her choice of reading materials but they were limited in their discretion by the standard operating procedures of the state. They could worry but since she wasn't learning how to make improvised explosives they could do nothing.

Maxine confined her research to biology, chemistry and physics, in its pure forms, with applied studies restricted to gardening and landscaping, she knew the extent of her prison, she stayed within its bounds and they had no pretext to circumscribe her.

In any case, Maxine wasn't interested in bombs, the state in its paranoia had blinded itself to other means, peaceful, however illegal means:

Means of escape.

They watched her carefully, they watched her build a model garden behind the state home, grow herbs, even erect a small garden shed. Her garden occupied her to the point of singularity, or so it seemed, as if by accident, her radishes and carrots sprouted together, her sponsors. They did not hear her muttering under her breath to her newly sprouted root vegetables. If any of them had, they might have heard:

"Do not despair, one of the thieves was saved, do not presume, one of the thieves was damned."

Had they heard, it may not have come as a surprise that in her over-abundance of intellect, Maxine had chafed at her bounds so long she'd rubbed her soul raw, she clutched at hope where she found it; moonlight sparkles on worn black pebbles.

She didn't go so far as to call her radishes 'Luke' and her carrots 'Augustine' but the idea was there.

Her sponsors watched her miniature world unfold with increasing fascination, between meals, sleep and school, Maxine spent all her time in her little garden. Radishes and carrots gave way to tomatoes and peppers, they watched her measure nitrogen levels, pH levels, organize her planting schedule and over two growing seasons she occasionally provided her sponsors tables with delicious produce. Maxine had found a calling, said her sponsors, she had become adjusted, said her sponsors, her journey towards full membership as a law-abiding and productive citizen of society was nearly complete, said her sponsors.

Maxine considered herself an iconoclast, not in the old sense of image-breaker or destroyer of sacred images but in the modern sense as one who creates original images without references. Not satisfied with received fashions, she carved her own.

There would be no one to stop her this time.

Her second garden, in the woods near school had yielded two harvests of prepared food. Stacked neatly in jars in the basket of a hand rebuilt motorized tricycle. Straddling the bike with the motor running she exhaled a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding inside and remained where she was, engine idling.

She shut off the motor and dismounted the bike, walked on to school, went home to her sponsors, stepped mechanically through her role. No one had guessed the extent of her ingenuity, she could have left, she told herself, she really could have done it.

In bed, pretending to be asleep, Maxine shook with rage, rage at the world, rage at herself, she could leave! She could! Why wasn't she leaving? Exhaustion eventually drove her to unconsciousness. In her dreams she was in prison but there were no bars at the gates, only rows of planted carrots and radishes and tomatoes and peppers. She couldn't pass through the gates without stepping all over the plants, destroying them. Maxine couldn't do it. beyond the gates she saw enormous fields of crops. She knew, with the strange logic of dreams, that those crops were but a small part of her highly industrialized, scientific and productive agricultural enterprise, she need only destroy the little plants in her way to claim her future immediately.

She couldn't do it. Not a step. What her sponsors had failed to do, Maxine had accomplished by accident.

Unconquerable, she had conquered herself.

In bed, Maxine sighed in acceptance, in her dreams, she nursed the plants that barred her way.

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