By Lance Erlick
What do you do when you’re not in school? Because of “detention” it seems I’m always in school. Mom has chores for my sister and me around the house. We have a water purification system that takes contaminated channel water and makes it drinkable and so we can take quick showers. It needs constant maintenance and pumping. We have a garden, a goat to milk, and two fruit trees to tend. We also have to set and check traps to keep scavengers from taking what little we have while we’re away. When I can, I sneak off to dive salvage at sunken homes of what had been Richmond. Most times I find sites that have already been picked clean, but sometimes I uncover a real find, like finding enough stainless cooking pans to barter for a goat so we would have milk.
Who is your best friend? It’s been hard to keep friends. The girls in my class are two years older, since I’ve advanced to the highest level, grade eleven. They think I’m too smart for my own good and would rather hang around with the more mature girls. I’ve had salvage partners. We would watch each other’s backs while diving. But Antiquities agents seized them during prior storms. The ache of losing friends has been hard. Besides, I have to watch my younger sister, who is three years younger and five years behind in school. In some ways she has become my best friend, but I have to keep so many secrets, like the books I read. It makes it hard to keep friendships.
What do you want to do after you finish school? Mo-Mere has visions of giving me an Aristotelian education as Alexander the Great had so I could make something useful of my life. She has this dream that I will somehow lead people to change the world so Marginals weren’t forced to live on the sinking seaward side of the Great Barrier Wall. As for me, I imagine having more time to salvage the depths, as much in the hope of finding more print books as barter to trade for food. However, each year there is less to find and Antiquities patrols become more of a nuisance.
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