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Chapter 37

I live here on the surface, where the old walk the narrow streets, or a few children play ball in a distant alley, as if to hint at the swarms of the past. 

Towers rise into the white air in the distance

I was placing flowers in the bucket in front of my house, working out messages with sticks and curves.  An old woman walks by with her dog.  She smiles, "What a waste, putting flowers in the bucket there..."
I said, "I was hoping people in the street could enjoy them.  After all, every house has a bucket like this in front.  It's always full of water anyway."  But she didn't hear or understand me.
She said, "Yeah, there are not so many children here anymore.  I have grandchildren but they live some place far away.  There used to be kids everywhere here playing and running around.  Its very quiet now."
"When was that?"
"About 40 years ago."

And so I find myself living on a surface, quiet and textured, like the old wooden boards of my house, or like the beige stucco that has aged with a few chips and holes.  The wind rattles my old glass windows that slide on a rusty iron track.   There is rarely sound of talk or laughter, although the walls are thin and papery.

I wonder when people will land and come back to the old ways that wind through this quiet city.  And so I fill the bucket with flowers and imagine the festivals of the future.