My House Is In The Sky: Part 2
To start from the beginning...
Dealicah was ten years old today and, as such, she didn’t feel much like paying attention to anyone. Of course, Dealicah never felt much like paying attention to anyone on any other day of the week, but today was special because she was ten. Usually she pretended she was older, or younger, but today she had come to terms with the fact that even ten year olds don’t like to pay attention to anyone. She wasn’t sure why it mattered, except that she knew, as her mother often told her, that ten year olds ought to pay attention to their teachers, and Dealicah didn’t like not doing what she ought to do. Which, of course, was silly, she told herself, because why should I do anything just because I ought to? It was more fun to pretend to be a grown-up and not have to pay attention to the silly teachers who weren’t important than to be a ten year old who was supposed to think they were important.
“Dealicah? How many times do I have to tell you to pay attention?” That grabbed Dealicah’s attention, more because of the snickers it brought than because she wasn’t used to being called out.
“I was trying to pay attention, Miss Spupot, it’s just very hard for me when this class is so boring,” Dealicah answered honestly. The subject, mathematics, was really too basic for her tastes. Everything the teacher taught was something Dealicah felt that she already knew, and how silly was it to learn something you already knew?
“If it’s so boring, Miss Redsun, then why do you perform so poorly?” the teacher challenged, glaring down her long, slender nose. It’s a pity, Dealicah thought, that someone so pretty became a school teacher.
“I feel that the tests are too easy, and if I did well, it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else.” Now Dealicah was trying to get on the woman’s nerves, because the woman never ceased to get on her nerves. Dealicah was pleased at the angry red flush that spread over the woman’s cheeks, and Dealicah thought she wasn’t so pretty now. “I suppose now that you’re all pink, you’re going to kick me out of class now, Miss Spupot?”
The thought flashed across the woman’s face, as though it was the one she really wanted to choose, and then she said something Dealicah did not expect. “No, Miss Redsun, I’m going to keep you in here, because there’s nowhere you’d rather be than outside of my class.”
“Suit yourself,” Dealicah agreed, feeling slightly defiant. “I can’t promise that I’ll pay any more attention now that you’ve decided to keep me in here.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the class had been pleasantly distracted by the war brewing between Dealicah and Miss Spupot. They were all just as bored as Dealicah, but much better at hiding it. The young girl preferred to stare out the window into the clouds, wondering if that’s what the Old World looked like, and whether they were ever capable of touching those clouds like she could. She preferred to doodle on her desk, or otherwise scribble sentences into her favorite tablet, hoping no one would see. She had been caught, once, and was forbidden to use pencils, pens, or markers, or any other drawing tool, for a whole week. Everyone was curious what she had written in it, for, as the teacher threw it into the incinerator, Dealicah shed only one tear. Instead of being upset, Dealicah was infuriated. That device had not been inexpensive, and the sentences she had put in there didn’t seem like so much harm. She had written them down because they sounded like good sentences, not because she really knew what they meant. Sometimes, she had just written short little stories about imaginary friends, little creatures that could jump around the class room and fly out the window. She had never meant for them to be real thoughts; they were just fun distractions.
Never had a teacher been more diligent in catching Dealicah while she was distracted than Miss Spupot. The woman seemed to have a sixth sense and knew almost immediately when Dealicah had opened a new file in her tablet and wasn’t paying attention anymore. Despite her well thought-out plans, Miss Spupot could not seem to catch her writing stories again. Sure, she knew that Dealicah was writing instead of doing math, but anytime she snapped up her little electronic device, there would be absolutely no evidence. The reason for this was that Dealicah did not have to record her stories for her to know them to write down later. She did not have to write in class anymore, she simply had to make a little squiggle on the edge of her page that meant something in her own little language. A sign that looked like a cursive T and a u put together represented an action, and the numbers that she had written helped remind her at what point she had had the thought, and from there she could usually put it together. What Dealicah didn’t know was that all the secrecy she put into concealing her real thoughts helped make her smarter than anyone else she knew. After all, she had to come up with ways of reminding herself without making it obvious what she was doing. She did acknowledge, once or twice, to her mother that, “Nobody in school has skills quite like I have.” This was a riddle her mother didn’t bother to solve – perhaps because she did not think she wanted to know the answer.
Dealicah liked her mother, but she would much rather have had a father instead. Most children were born to single parents, not because of an abnormal rate of divorce (there really was no such thing), and not because of “typical” teenage fun, but because it was traditional for children to have only one parent. Adults coupled either for pleasure or because one of them wanted a child. Life partners were harder to find when your entire country was confined into one or two towers and sectioned off into floors and levels and “stilts”, though not impossible. Marriage was also an unfashionable practice, as it became more modern for men and women to stick together by choice – not because they had made vows that prevented them from doing otherwise. As such, when a man or a woman desired a child, they would find a suitable match, perhaps someone with a desirable color of hair or a well-known gene pool or maybe even an extraordinarily high intellect and the child was born and raised for the parent that wanted it. If the future parent was to be a father, he usually saw to it that the mother was cared for, spoiled even, so that she would not suffer for her generosity in conceiving his child. There were few orphans, as there were more planned pregnancies and even more parents who didn’t want to have to “make” their child but would rather be put on the “An Orphan’s Angel” list in the event that a child did lose their parent.
It was in this way that little Dealicah had been brought into the world. She had known no father, as many girls and boys her age had not, and was no less a happy child. Except when she was caught not paying attention and wished she had a father like Helvenetta’s who approved of misbehavior. The funny thing was, no parent would have approved of, or even accepted, Dealicah’s writings and drawings except for her mother, who would have been judged far too lenient if she had protested the burning of her daughter’s device, which she almost did. That day was a black day for both mother and daughter, for Dealicah lost her precious imaginary stories and adventures and her mother was placed under scrutiny far longer than Dealicah was banished from artwork. As a matter of fact, today was her mother’s last day of investigation, and it was lucky coincidence that Miss Spupot had decided against banishing Dealicah from the classroom.
As it was, however, Dealicah didn’t feel very lucky being stuck inside a simple, boring classroom. She hated to be bored, and at her age, boys hadn’t quite yet become interesting, and she was very, very bored. So bored, in fact, that she couldn’t even think of a creative sentence to mark down on her math page. Instead, she fixed her attention on the digital intercom and hoped for the best.
At that very second, an image flashed across the projection, and suddenly there was a woman, the well-known Camera Angel (known personally as Cam) standing head and shoulders before the students, the disgruntled teacher, and the very delighted Dealicah Redsun.
“Hello everyone, this is Camera Angel reporting live to you, in your homes, workplaces, and classrooms. I’m sorry to interrupt, but an important announcement is necessary to reach you, here and now.”
Dealicah thought she heard Miss Spupot mumble, “It must be very important since they just had to put your ugly face up before us.” But she couldn’t be sure, because she couldn’t understand why anyone would think that the beautiful Camera was ugly.
And Camera Angel was very beautiful; the government had made the kind suggestion to change her name from Cameron to Camera and Rowles to Angel. She had the most gorgeous, fluffy blond hair that fell far past her shoulders, which she usually kept in the most intricate twists so that she seemed to only have two long, thick locks of hair, one on each side of her dainty head. Her nose was small and turned up like Miss Spupot’s, but combined with her cheeks, high cheekbones and thin, white eyebrows, Camera looked more like a fairy than the teacher ever could. Whoever did her makeup did an excellent job, for it was never dark nor heavy, but always something lightweight, like silver, so that her dazzling green eyes popped out from her pale, luminescent, hologram-ready face. Even her tiny, straight teeth were white as snow, which amazingly stood out starkly against her face, even though she only wore the lightest peach colored lip gloss. Every time she saw her, Dealicah wished she could pretty herself up like the celebrity could. In fact, Dealicah wished she could be as pretty as she was.
“As many of you know, it is incredibly dangerous to consider leaving the Tower. The fall could maim or kill you, and we know little of what is out there in the world. If you know of someone who has considered, is considering, or might consider leaving the Tower, please report them to your teacher, boss, or parents, as escaping the Tower could ruin our security, livelihoods, and happiness.” Camera’s face was so solemn, Dealicah thought she would never write a story about friends leaving the tower just so that that serious face would never be turned on her.
“This morning, however, our warnings did not reach the ears of one Sermees Backwater, who leapt from the Tower’s fifth story. Our scouts have attempted to spot the man, but no news yet of where he has gone has reached our troops nor our law enforcers.” Then, Camera disappeared and in her place was the picture of a young man, not much more than twenty, with short brown hair and beady black eyes. He was grimacing and his face was the face of a man who hardly ever groomed himself. “If somehow Mr. Backwater makes it back into the Tower, please report him as ‘found’ immediately. You and your family will be greatly rewarded, and the wrongdoer will be put in his place.
“Thank you for your patience with me this morning. As always, enjoy life!” And Camera flashed that simple, winning smile at her audience before the hologram clicked off. It was the smile of someone who was not quite friend, but not really stranger, the smile given while walking in the halls, or riding the elevator. It comforted, called one a friend, and let him or her smile back as though some great mystery or secret was shared between the two. It was what made Camera Angel such a good newscaster – it led everyone to believe that the government was on their side. Who was to say it wasn’t? But it was Camera Angel’s job to help everyone remember it in their hearts.
“Alright, class, let’s get back to business…” Miss Spupot began, but the class was already in an uproar – How could someone get out of the tower?
Dealicah, smiling sweetly at her teacher, began to work on her math.
- - - - - - -
“Mom!” Dealicah cried, tossing her backpack (but not her tablet) beside the door. “Mommy!”
Katallia Redsun, who preferred the name Tallia, stepped from her bedroom in all of her well-made glory; lips stained a brilliant, startling red, eyes painted a striking smoky black, and business suit steamed to her slender, round body. “Dealicah!” she cried, and the woman in haughty gear knelt down and latched onto her ten-year-old child, swinging her around despite the five inch heels and slender arms. “How was school? Did the bad Miss Spupot get on to you again?”
“Yes, but Mom, did you hear about the man who escaped the Tower?” Dealicah gasped between giggles; some days Miss Tallia Redsun was too preoccupied with work to see her daughter, but other days they could devote the whole afternoon to each other.
“The big bad man? A one ‘Sermees Backwater’, horribly ugly. No wonder he wanted to escape the Tower!” Tallia cried, setting Dealicah down and running to fetch her daughter’s jacket. “Now, Dealicah, would you mind too terribly to go down to the park?”
“Yes! But may I show you something first?” Dealicah hurriedly, secretively, turned on her tablet. “The news story scared me and made Miss Spupot so very angry. So you know what I did? I did some research and look! Miss Spupot was in love with that man, Mommy. It was all over the news!”
“I see, my little one, but why would a love story get so big?”
“Well I looked it up and Miss Spupot and Camera Angel were sisters! And the President is their daddy. Mommy, why would he want to escape the tower?” And then Dealicah clicked off of her research and showed her mom a picture. “Look, I made a picture of Miss Spupot and that man.”