Past troubles?

“There have been heartaches. There are places where we believed we were trapped and forced to endure because the systems were crumbling”. The black gentleman’s eyes glazed over. The pain in his eyes I had seen on too many people in the hallways here.
” What could happen to engrave that deep pain in so many different people ?” I thought again. Nobody could explain it and I couldn’t go with that. Science didn’t allow for such questions to exist without being challenged, as my Dad would preach to many of his students.
From the edge of the small loveseat, Sam started talking , fingering the string that was dangling from a hand . The black gentleman handed the string ball to him. Sam had been quiet and I thought he was studying, vaguely listening to the discussion around him. He often did that. Now he leaned forward and stared at the people across on the other couch.
” We have been doing this for years. Your town doesn’t like strangers , mine doesn’t like it either . ” His chin raised up and stated his facts. I knew that stance and leaned back.
“None of us want strange people coming in and telling us what to do!” Sam pointed the string ball to everyone . A group standing in the hallway stopped and stared. The ball seemed to tease them. A few walked forward and leaned on the backs of the chairs. ” We think we know all. We figured out a lot of orders for ourselves. BUT”—-
He tossed to ball in the air, causing the string to unravel and fall on the heads of the girls sitting with Ginger. He grinned and handed the ball to the nearest girl.
” But there are plenty of people in all of our places that disagree with different ideas! People who will yell to all that only your group or my group is solely “– Sam drew in a breath and let in out slow and easy. ” heaven sent with no forthcomings or judgements needed. The people who will condemn anyone who don’t buckle before THEIR speaker. ” He looked around and smiled, but it was that haunted smile that paired with the pain in the eyes.
“We have more problems and yes, more workable ideas, this year than any in many a day.” Two of the grey suited with their long tunics and their sashes tight across their middle, rolled their eyes and left.
” The trouble is starting up. There were attacks on a number of lands, recently. The agreements are not being done . ” Ginger’s friend yelled out.
Sam raised both his hands up “We all NEED HELP, AND trade or just” his eyes now gleaming , ” new people with new tiers and books to mix up. New ways to fix illness or repair damages with new material? We can’t quit, not when we are seeing hope and good stuff coming .” Sam sounded more pleading and desperate than when he wanted help studying for the medicinal tests. Silly comparison. I thought . What was happening, now? I was wondering and uncertain again.

Waves

I glanced and felt the anger, resentment, the suspicions rising and the change in this “study group” . I had been around them, I had lunch and classes with many of them. Sam, Sherriel, Ginger are my friends, I liked them and they liked me. But this?!
I caught the Parliamentarian picking up the paper ball from the floor and shoving it into his pocket. The pain was engraved in his expression as he watched the dissolution of order. He walked away like an old seaman who was worn and tired from too many times on unstable decks.
” I don’t get it! Maybe because I am new and from the fringe.”
I frowned and was soaked in the fear, resentment and confusion. I was so far on the outside.( although Joy told me I was too far IN the padding). I looked around at the people packing up and Diamond trying to disappear into the folds of the couch.
” What is going on? Not just in the History study discussion group.! BUT HERE FOR DAYS.” I asked The black gentleman, Diamond and turning asked Sam, Sam was looking down the hallway. ” I CAN’T SEE WHAT THE –?” I couldn’t even figure out WHAT to call IT. My exasperation showed as I raised up on the stool beside the couch, so I could see the people walking behind me.
The black gentleman sat down and leaned forward, his elbows digging into the top of his knees. He still looked morose and his voice was husky. People sat down and settled in close to each other , to listen .
” Recent –history is here – its effect is showing through all of us, even if we don’t see it. We have pain, anger, resentment, frustration and possessiveness. When it becomes my village’s freedom to choose and your villages’ freedoms, everything becomes suspicious and questionable. Protection and fear overshadowing all the NEEDS . We don’t even talk or research in joint ways. The Government.” He glanced over at Diamond ” Governments’ officers can’t or won’t talk to people . They try-”
Diamond piped in to interrupt, his voice squeaking . ” too selfish, too dark, too concerned with making work for itself! The merchants charge anything and leave us all hanging and in need. None of us have enough to pay them!” His knees bouncing, casting lights that wriggle over the tabletop. One of the girls whispered in his ear and gave him a smile and a peck. He smirked and leaned back, tossing a wadded up ball of string?
The black gentlemen chuckled and caught the string ball.

nothing worst than waiting

The black gentleman put his hand on Ginger’s arm. She closed her eyes , opening them . He was staring at her with his eyes watering. He blinked.
” We are waiting, not for long. It has been a hard road.” He whispered. She glanced down at the table with the bowl of brightly colored round spots.

” Come on, ” Trevor said and jostled the black gentleman. ” They re not worth it.” She stood in front and shook her head purposely.
” We can get no where and problems rebound if we talk past each other. ”
Oliver, the stouter of the two, towered over her. ” Reserves are NOT rebounding. ”
One of the students from behind the couch sneered. ” let them go , they don’t want to change.” Another grabbed Olivers’ coat and twisted him around. ” Yes, they are!! They are sprouting and the water is clearer. We are–” ” Yesta, Darn! But there IS NO PROOF!! of anything believable!. Has there been any farm shows? any Orchard trains.? This is just a power grab and lies!!” Trevor jerked Oliver away.
Ginger’s shoulders sank . She licked her dark, tan chapped lips . Looking over all the people and the threatening faces , tightening grasps and shoulders framing their ears, she stated.
” I know everything has been tight. I know that some villages have more of — things than others. She frowned and looked straight ahead at the bowl of plum apples and orange tinted bananas. There was the proof, the brightly colored and plentiful spots. Still, there were not enough for everyone here. She would just wait. How long would everyone wait?

A slice of Peace attempted

Ginger lady ignore the ball by her foot and smiled at me. She stood.
Parlimentarian interrupted. “She has to be recognized.” His eyebrows raised, his auburn skin darkening. ( it was rather fascinating, to watch).
I cleared my throat. ” “Look, nobody else has waited to be recognized”. I warbled. Anger cracking my voice. ‘ he was really getting on my nerves,’- I thought.
Sam put out his hand and stood. He was looking at me with a slight shake and a pointed crease between his dark eyes, so unreadable, and the eyebrows so pointed, a whole lecture in themselves.

Everyone looked at Sam, who held up his hands and then lowered them down to his sides. Ginger nodded ” Thank you.” She surveyed all of us, especially those who were talking among themselves.
” This! – she spread her fingers wide and shook her head . Drawing in a breath, she blew out slowly, The ginger girl bit her upper lip and started saying ” We are all in joint rooms and we are not talking still. !” The diamond guy sat back and so did the girls. His girls? The others on the green bench turned and talked to each other.
Ginger tried again. ” We all come from areas of our own voice and ways . That is important but we have to not condemn others or ourselves– ” She folded her arms around her back, and met the eyes of the guys sitting in the brown leather side chairs.
A guy in black and white vest, jacket and grey pants leaned forward and drowned her out. His face and hands were light cream with red patches. He reminded me of a panda. I couldn’t help cracking a half smile. .even though I bit the inside of my mouth to stop it.
The Panda said even louder. ” We all know what you are doing?” He blew his nose into a napkin and squeezed his reddened nose . ” Poor, pititful us, life is hard! We have so much difficulties.” He spread his fingers wide and shook his head. “So unfair, for others to have a lot and we are so-o struggling .” He raised up his hands and twisted .”So therefore, Giver, Giver, and givest more- you have it and we want more.” He blew his nose into a napkin and smirk. ” that is why you, all of you, are here ” WE work ! don’t want to make hard, yourselves.”
Ginger rocked on her heels . She had heard it before and for years. Coughing and shuffling of papers from the chairs and people propped up against the couches caught her attention. ‘ We are trying hard to get together.’ “Don’t blow it now.” she murmured and the nearest guys looked at her. Fear?

dizzy ball

The black guy stood up and caught the ball as it was wafting down. The small parachute fit over the finger tips of his hand. Straightening his shoulders, he sat down and smoothed the ball back into shape. I arched an eyebrow, curious that somehow I had again insulted the process. ‘ Process?’
He stared down at the ball, the ink has smeared and created green strips across the middle, more or less.
“We are a group of people all here to get information to take back to our groups, so that we can better survive within our groups. ” He stated clearly as if he was stating a thesis or a proclamation. ” But, here we are disagreeing over opinions. Opinions that are important but not necessary to whether we get to arrive back to our rooms, tonight.” he looked up and across to the dogmatic guy. ” you like things to flow and follow certain guidelines, I like to as well. Guidelines–”
The diamond guy with his sleeves flaying around, butted in.
” that’s great, Guidelines that make some villages filled with resources while there are those of us that work hard and still have nothing, ” he stopped and coughed in his sleeve. ” not even respect from our own citizens. Easy for you to say, you got help!” He spread his winged sleeves out and graciously sat. I got the opinion that while he enjoyed his speaking role, he was very deeply firm in his ideas. The black gentleman paused and rubbed his arm. I don’t even think he was aware of it.
I cocked my head at Diamond Jim,’ he didn’t sound any different’, however he was pleased that he had interrupted and brought attention back to him.

Narrowing my eyes, turning my head and looking up, I reached out my hand to the black gentleman.
He shook his head and fiddled with the creases in the ball.
” a great many people have had an unusually difficult year. Playing a ball-for-bat comparison doesn’t bring them back or change the problems we had to solve to stop it in the road? We know what has been done before. we know what should have been done . Neither is going to clean up anything or bring our homes back from some guys that have never been exposed to hunger, fear or pain. “
He reached out his hand to a little pale girl next to him. He handed her the ball which she shook her head and pushed it away.
“Groups have met for millenia, some times good, sometimes bad. sometimes in a large group, sometimes- he stopped and closed his hand around the ball, scanning the circle.
He tossed the ball to me, while saying, ” groups get together to decide on agreements on anything.” I caught the ball and said, picking up on his thread of thought. “Groups who needed to sell or trade for their food or help to fight their fights ( when disease happens and security was at its weakest) . Several groups living on the same land, need to decide where their children can roam or what they’re allowed to do on someone’s else’s land. It can be difficult , even if ” I pulled a long piece of bang away from my mouth. ” even if the resources are plentiful or not easy to find.? ” I dropped the ball in the most quiet girl’s lap.

The girl with the cup cradled between her hands, never looked up.
” Groups cannot always travel at the wisp of a girl.” Balmoral smiled. She sipped her drink and look up. ” nothing says that the wisp of a girl can’t travel herself. ” She tossed the ball in the air, which earned another frown from the Parliamentarian person-guy. ” Groups had to be able to talk and LISTEN to each other or we will have NOT LEARNED ANYTHING! Groups MUST HAVE SOMEONE THAT CAN TALK FOR THEM IN A GATHERING!” The ball was inches away from me, perched on the edge of the table, I caught it and tossed it to the Ginger girl , her feet mere inches away from the table. ‘I wonder if she could catch it with her toes?’



Authority is worthless?

Suddenly , I was blinking and holding the paper ball in my hand . I stared at it up close. It was history notes. So that answered what the class thought about the history lectures. I gazed at the ball, rolling it over .
It was a sorting grid, with lines of dates and yellow stripes. I wove my brows together.
A bass line of coughing made me look up. Sam and Sandy were hacking into their hands and Sandy cocked her head. ” So what do you think? You have a different view of the war, being from the far off science bases. Did it hurt your town ?” I thought and didn’t know what to say. I had been warned enough about talking and not listening.! I slumped and looked sad. “Some!” I glanced down at the economic book under the table. ” We have some water and crop problems- chemicals got in . One neighborhood had to move. We are still working ” Wondering if these kids remembered the Love Canal contamination?
I tossed the ball up in the air and caught it.’ The dent made it easier to hold onto. Hmph, ‘I thought. ” Is there nobody in Authority that would do what you want to do if you have the resources, money and energy? ”
An unspoken guy in a green speckled suit looked at the loud colored clothes girls and smiled mischievously . “Authority is worthless. They only care about staying in office . Their lives are about getting selected!! That’s all!” The sparkles on his sleeves glimmered in the lamplight, as he pumped his arms towards the windows. There were many nodding bodies and “yes!” responses with fists in the air ” “The people who work hard to survive and pay them, we don’t matter! They don’t listen to anything we say. They just stay in their circles and buildings. “
The Ginger girl’s friend raised his voice, and his raised palm. “They brought us everything we needed to survive! The authorities brought food, water and everything for months! We didn’t have any money or any way to get supplies. The Councils sent medicine, help and experts! We wouldn’t be here without the councils’ support!” The black guy rolled up his loose khaki sleeve to show a bandaged bicep. I was rolling the ball, in a lopsided circle on the floor, while I was listening. Smiling, I rolled the ball towards him.
The wheaton terrier hair guy reached over and threw the ball high in the air. ” “That is what you DO when you want an answer !” His green eyes challenged me and he stepped away from the falling ball.

Catch and release

The girls on the couch leaned one way and another. One of the girls, with the loud clothes and the smoky eyes, from Approve day, caught it.
Her long, pink cotton candy blunt-tipped nails dug into the ball. The dented ball didn’t roll when she tossed it on the table.
” Nothing can be changed, so long as everyone is hurting someone else. You think that talking quietly will solve the discordances? Nothing will get completed, because we can’t get around our fear- their fear and anyone’s frustration, who decides to damage someone else! ” Her nails curled around her fist. She was spoiling for a fight- an old eye for an eye, my grandfather would say.
I frowned . ‘The war was so long ago–? Was this really about a history lesson? ‘ I wondered. There were gatherings all around the campus. I never thought anything about it. I just surmised that they were mutual study groups. Now, I wondered ,whether they were separate factions and the campus was anything but peaceful? Suddenly the ball was pitched!