What if it wasn't devastating? What if she said, I won't crumple like a ball of paper, I will emerge from the writing made by these male fingers, hair raising from the knuckles, and I will rise. Sometimes it is hard to be nine. It's hard when you live on a foreign planet, under cover of seven years of rain. It's hard when the door closes and the darkness falls, and you feel like all you have ever known is darkness. But you remember that all you have ever known is not darkness--to survive, you must consistently remember that all you have ever known is not darkness, and that instead there has always been light all around.
She lived through that day, she had to live through that day. Though maybe some part of her died. Some part of childhood that believed that the rain will end and the light will come again. For the next six years, the light did never come again. The other students left her alone in an awkward, quiet distance. They felt a heavy sense of regret for mocking her interest that day, for locking her in the closet, for having to slowly let her out. She stayed strong. She focused on science class, studying moon rocks and soil qualities and water. She learned all that she could about water. It was the essence of everything, everything that made up a human body and the world around her. Though it fell constantly she learned to gain a relationship with it, to love it and remember when it instead shimmered on the pond or crashed like waves on the ocean.
There comes a choice between forgiveness and revenge. She wanted to find a happy medium--she wanted them to suffer, but she wanted to live with them happily again. She wanted this strange silence to end. Somehow she got over it before they did. Thankfully, her pain faded slowly than their heavy regret. They grew older and more mature but there was always a cloud that hung over their relationship. She was, at first, that weird girl saying things about the sun. But then she was that girl that was right, that girl who knew before they knew about the truth of the world.
She made friends with people older than her. She fit in better with those who remembered their time on earth. The disaster that earth became was a result of individual actions just like that day that Margot was locked in the closet was a result of a million little actions. That's what Margot wanted to change--individual actions. Changing minds before they became changed by negative influences, before they came together to neglect the earth. She knew that the earth was the only thing she really had, the only thing she needed to protect. So while her mind was made up, she worked to change other minds, to influence them to change their actions. Because of course, the disaster that earth became was the result of many actions, many papers thrown on the ground, many cigarettes smoked, many plastic water bottles purchased. It is about caring. Not just caring vaguely about the world around you, caring enough to work hard and change your own habits and focus on how they impact the world around you.
The closet sat silent like a paperweight, always a reminder of the worst that other people can do. But she did that best that she herself could do. There were no colleges on this planet yet, but she stayed in high school, working to learn as much as she could from her teachers and the older generation that remembered their time on earth. She worked to teach others how to love the earth, how to learn from their mistakes and build a place where land was appreciated and conserved.
But she always came back to that closet somehow. Somehow the one thing that was missing from her life was that one day, that day where she missed the sun. She had to remind herself every day that the sun existed and that it would exist again. There were still good people on this planet. There were still people working to rebuild, to learn, to grow, to understand Venus and where they would go from here. She wanted to be one of them. She continued on a track to become a scientist. She worked with those who used to be engineers and professors and she worked to study the environment and planets, growing a large portfolio.
There was a group of astronauts--that was the goal, to become an astronaut. It was years of grueling training, physical, mental, academic. But she could do it. There was an initiative to go back to earth to study the damage that had been done in two years. She was on track to join the force, and was working hard to understand what would be required of her on that trip.
Back again, back to the same place. But of course, not the same as what she remembered. No glimmering ocean waves or orange coins in the sky. There was a barren wasteland and a dying population of creatures. But she would do what she could. That's all that matters in the world, doing what you can. Even if what you can is simply opening a door and letting Margot out. Even if what you can is walking up onto the spaceship, opening the door and letting Margot in. Even if what you can is walking out the door, walking back onto the world that you left behind as a small child and trying not to cry, trying not to feel the weight of a million failures and a million greedy fingers falling onto you.
The flight was successful. The captain ensured that everyone was prepared, that the ship had landed correctly, that protocols were followed. Margot felt like that day back when she was 9 had arrived again, but this time she was pushing through thick wood and getting out, the sun's rays were falling on her thickly.
"They unlocked the door, even more slowly, and let Margot out."
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This was really good, moving and super vivid imagery
Really liked this story. It reminded me of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes. The optimistic ending was especially good.