Fueled


The books had all but disappeared by the time Miguel was born. Words written were no longer useful for anything but fuel. You could boil water over Atlas Shrugged. War and Peace would fry an egg, provided you could find one. Infinite Jest could soften rice. Fish was done when each page of Les Miserables had blackened and curled and broken into bits that floated away upon the breeze.

The children were encouraged to explore the woods surrounding the village, rewarded whenever they brought something useful to the elders. On his sixth birthday, in the back of a dank cave, Miguel discovered a cache of books, wrapped in blankets and tucked inside several wooden cases.

"Elder Thomas." Miguel handed a book out shyly. "I found more fuel."

Thomas opened the book and ran a hand across the page. He coughed quietly into his palm and then broke into tears. "This is not fuel, Miguel. There are words here. Ideas. Listen." He pointed to the top of a page and began to read. After one page, he closed the book.

"Why did you stop?" Miguel asked.

"Reading is forbidden."

"Why?"

"Books are for fuel."

"The cave is full of them," Miguel said.

Thomas stood and glanced around at the other elders. "Show me," he said quietly.

When he saw the books, Thomas fell to his knees. "You must never tell anyone."

Miguel nodded and scratched at a scab.

Thomas taught Miguel to read in secret, Miguel sounding out exotic words that felt heavy on his tongue.

"You appear to have a talent for words," Thomas said a year later.

In the end, they were discovered hunched over the tiny print of A Wrinkle in Time.

The chief elder, Miguel's grandfather, ordered the hidden books to be burned to burn the bodies of the teacher and the boy.

The villagers watched as blackened bits rose to the sky and blew away.


This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was appear.




Labels:

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Fueled

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fueled


The books had all but disappeared by the time Miguel was born. Words written were no longer useful for anything but fuel. You could boil water over Atlas Shrugged. War and Peace would fry an egg, provided you could find one. Infinite Jest could soften rice. Fish was done when each page of Les Miserables had blackened and curled and broken into bits that floated away upon the breeze.

The children were encouraged to explore the woods surrounding the village, rewarded whenever they brought something useful to the elders. On his sixth birthday, in the back of a dank cave, Miguel discovered a cache of books, wrapped in blankets and tucked inside several wooden cases.

"Elder Thomas." Miguel handed a book out shyly. "I found more fuel."

Thomas opened the book and ran a hand across the page. He coughed quietly into his palm and then broke into tears. "This is not fuel, Miguel. There are words here. Ideas. Listen." He pointed to the top of a page and began to read. After one page, he closed the book.

"Why did you stop?" Miguel asked.

"Reading is forbidden."

"Why?"

"Books are for fuel."

"The cave is full of them," Miguel said.

Thomas stood and glanced around at the other elders. "Show me," he said quietly.

When he saw the books, Thomas fell to his knees. "You must never tell anyone."

Miguel nodded and scratched at a scab.

Thomas taught Miguel to read in secret, Miguel sounding out exotic words that felt heavy on his tongue.

"You appear to have a talent for words," Thomas said a year later.

In the end, they were discovered hunched over the tiny print of A Wrinkle in Time.

The chief elder, Miguel's grandfather, ordered the hidden books to be burned to burn the bodies of the teacher and the boy.

The villagers watched as blackened bits rose to the sky and blew away.


This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was appear.




Labels:

24 Comments:

At May 28, 2013 at 7:17 PM , Blogger November Rain - k~ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At May 28, 2013 at 8:08 PM , Blogger November Rain - k~ said...

I love this Kelly. Forbidden books and you even mentioned my favorite book of all time: A Wrinkle in Time. I must have read that at least 30 times in one year... I loved it.

:-)

 
At May 28, 2013 at 8:11 PM , Blogger Jo-Anne Teal said...

I agree with November Rain, I am glad to read this story too.

 
At May 28, 2013 at 8:53 PM , Anonymous steph said...

Nicely written, Kelly. Thank goodness for e-books. If the last thing I did before I was killed for insubordination was read a book via paper or digital it would be worth it. Great piece.

 
At May 28, 2013 at 9:49 PM , Blogger Trifecta said...

I love this. That whole first paragraph about measuring time in the burning of books is awesome.

 
At May 29, 2013 at 1:43 AM , Anonymous The Real Cie said...

Amazing story and rings of that horrific dystopian future truth of the science fiction writings I grew up with.
These days, however, I doubt that reading will have to be forbidden. People will simply turn off their minds as they tune into crappier and crappier television. Books will fall by the wayside and rot.

 
At May 29, 2013 at 7:09 AM , Blogger MOV said...

Great story! this reminds me so much of the children's book called "Aunt Chip and the Triple Creek Dam Affair" written by Patricia Polacco (although what happens in that book is that everyone watches TV and forgets what books are meant for).

Great premise!

best,
MOV

 
At May 29, 2013 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks so much - and thanks for that earlier catch! I changed it late last night and am just getting to comments now.

 
At May 29, 2013 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks so much!

 
At May 29, 2013 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks, Steph. Yes, I tried to work in the ebooks as well, but ran out of words.

 
At May 29, 2013 at 12:53 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

Thanks! I felt a little guilty frying an egg over books...

 
At May 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

TV is getting crappy! I'm living in a hotel for two weeks and, for the first time, have cable. I haven't missed much.

 
At May 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM , Blogger Kelly Garriott Waite said...

I'm familiar with Polacco's books, but not this one - I'll have to look it up. Thanks for reading!

 
At May 29, 2013 at 3:12 PM , OpenID jannatwrites said...

I get upset when a page tears in a book...couldn't imagine having to burn them for fuel. I also love the part where you explain what the fuel from each burned book can do. The ending was sad, but at least they followed a passion (and life there didn't sound that great anyway :))

 
At May 29, 2013 at 4:21 PM , OpenID walkertoennien said...

Ohhh, that is scary. Even from one who got so cold without heat this past winter that desperation led to the burning of my treasured tomes. I wept inconsolably the whole time, but we didn't freeze to death, and for that I'm thankful.

 
At May 29, 2013 at 4:31 PM , Blogger kymm said...

Gorgeous execution, Kelly. The tenderness in describing each burning sacrifice, and in the resistance of the written word, right up to the tragic finale. Loved it.

 
At May 29, 2013 at 8:45 PM , Blogger Draug said...

Wait so...they're surrounded by woods...and instead they burn books.

The horror. o__o

 
At May 30, 2013 at 12:52 PM , OpenID xandranihilo said...

Nice.

 
At May 31, 2013 at 5:32 AM , Blogger Bj√∂rn said...

Grim.. like Fahrenheit 451 cave-man style. Could almost be a sequel as they hid books in caves there.

 
At May 31, 2013 at 8:45 AM , Blogger Sandra said...

Gosh, I love this! Very well-deserved win!

 
At May 31, 2013 at 4:27 PM , Blogger SusanWritesPrecise said...

What a great story. I'll remember this one for a long time.

 
At June 1, 2013 at 8:45 AM , Blogger Linda Vernon said...

This is so well written. And the story . . .well I just hope it never ever happens - that's a dystopia I never want to experience!

 
At June 1, 2013 at 8:57 AM , Anonymous injaynesworld said...

Ah, Kelly... Your writing always inspires and humbles me in so many ways. What a frightening world you've created here.

 
At June 3, 2013 at 12:29 PM , OpenID momtheobscure said...

Wow. Such great, imagery, details and story. We need more Thomases in the world.

 

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