Concrete loomed overhead, offering nothing other than relief from the endless burning rays of the sun. It was one of many vertical slabs, inconceivably unsupported yet unwavering, which sprouted from the sand and paving stones like geometric lifeless trees.
Four young people walked towards the nearest monolith. In contrast with others around them, they did not walk independent of each other, but walked as as a group.
Esme knew this particular monolith well. Her father had told her many times of skyscrapers from his youth, and how this construction was bigger than even the tallest he had before experienced. This nameless block of grey had been the first to be constructed in their city.
Esme turned to look at her three companions.
‘Are we ready, people?’
Three faces stared back at her, their words unrequired and the acquiesence confirmed simply by three nods of three well-loved heads.
‘You know we won’t get away with it? That this likely means the end?’
Again, another three nods.
‘Right then. Let’s do it.’
Esme’s three companions left her to take their carefully pre-planned positions, one at each corner of the concrete structure. Though communication wasn’t possible owing to the distance and due to the impregnated concrete’s role as blocker of all distance related sound waves, there was no reason for Esme to believe that their pre-prepared mission wasn’t being carried out. Each young person had traced their path independently on many occasions, and Esme knew that within a count of 800, all four would be in position and ready to take their agreed action.
She took a deep breath and delved into her pocket. How she longed to know what it had been like in her dad’s day, when every person, near enough, was connected with the world via a small rectangular device they’d keep in their pocket or bag. Since the concrete cataclysm, no connection was possible, owing to the masts being ripped away and to the new federal crime of owning a mass communication device.
In her pocket she kept one forbidden item – and her fingers wrapped round the smooth, flat stone. She couldn’t see it, but knew it was painted with the words ‘To my Daughter With Love’.
‘I love you,’ she said out loud, and she knew that the concrete would be listening to the same words from each person in her group as each one stood at the structure’s four corners.
She spoke the words again, and again. No louder, no quieter, no more sure and no more unsteady. Unwavering. Unabashed.
Esme and her companions independently articulated their abstract love despite knowing that to do so was the ultimate federal crime.
The declaration of love had been outlawed even before her birth, following a series of insane 21st century electoral frauds and government leadership disasters. A Prime Minister’s insistence that the world be reconstructed according to his own incomprehensible principles had led to the vilification of the genuine, the good, the caring, the empathic, the ethical…
And within just twenty five short years, it had led to this.
Love was unallowed. Marriage unallowed. Affection between friends unallowed. Love of God unallowed. Love of nature aunallowed.
What had been denoted as the ‘hate crime’ of declaring love was legally indicative that there must be a flipside – an unloved – and this led to the new statutory crime of discrimination and prejudice against the unloved and non-tribe members. A logical follow up to this was that all declarations of alignment, affection or support were outlawed.
All that was allowed was obedience to the billionaire mindmakers, and most citizens complied.
But Esme loved Melanie, and was loved in return. Freya loved Dan, and received back his love in spades full.
Being the people they were, and Esme being her father’s daughter, the quartet could not accept the law as it was.
Love had always been legally sanctioned, that’s what her dad had said. He’d said it out loud too, and that was why he was no longer able to join Esme and her friends in their protest against the societal restrictions.
Not one of the four young people were sure of what would come of their protest, but each and every one knew that they had no choice but to stand, to face into the corner of the monolith, and to declare their love for each other, for their kinsmen, for the city, the country, the planet…
Who knew what would happen next. What knew what their punishments would be.
These were questions that could not be answered, but as the miniature cameras positioned within the concrete monolith registered their criminality, the four young people knew they had no choice but to make their protest and show their love. And behind Esme a small crowd gathered. She turned to see Joe, an elderly neighbour, with shoulders shaking and tears running down his cheeks, whisper over and over, ‘I loved you, Edith. I really did love you. I still love you. I will always love you’.
And Esme continued speaking. Her schoolfriend, Jay, slipped her hand into Esme’s. ‘You’ve got some balls, kid,’ she said, then ‘I love you. I love you. I love you’.
It was only an hour later when the authorities arrived to arrest Esme, her lover and friends, and four expanding crowds of brave supporters and onlookers.
She submitted willingly, knowing that Melanie, Dan and Freya would do just the same.
For her father had taught her how sometimes worlds progress in the right direction, but that sometimes they don’t, and it takes the actions of someone strong to put things right along the way. Esme was happy to be one such person and to have led the latest love-based mass protest.
‘I love you,’ she said to the guard who fastened her handcuffs, but as expected the guard only smirked through his facial visor before leading her away.
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