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Greener Pastures
Ed yawned and sat up, shrugging off the white sheet. Rubbing sleep from his eyes, he glanced around at the six walls. Ed had been sleeping in lately, so his six neighbors were already awake. Albert was chatting with Brianna- although he could not hear their words, Ed could tell they were playing a word game- he had long ago become an expert lip reader. Albert said “A is for Albatross” to which Brianna replied “S if for Snail”. Ed shifted his attention away from the dull game. Cody had upturned his bed for the day, and was doing pull ups, gripping the bed’s legs. Cody wasn’t talking to anyone else, but Ed didn’t try to get his attention- Cody wouldn’t want to talk to him. Darla was chatting with Clara, the two of them trying new braiding methods on their long hair. With a modicum of interest, Ed looked into Emmitt’s room, with the glass wall covered in red writing. When the mathematics fad had made it out to Ed’s neighborhood in the grid, Emmitt had taken to it with great enthusiasm. Ed had considered joining in- he had hoped mathematics could help him connect with others, but he soon discovered he didn’t have the mind for it. He hadn’t enjoyed it anyways, as the only way to write was to prick ones finger, which grew intolerable to Ed after a few days. Now the wall of glass he shared with Emmitt was covered so completely with red formulas that Ed could barely make out enthusiastic mathematician on the other side. Ed turned to Fiona’s room- she was sitting cross legged on her bed meditating. Ed envied her peaceful expression- Fiona always seemed to enjoy being simply in existence.
Ed sighed silently, letting his eyes defocus, the vast array of transparent hexagonal rooms blurring together- just like the vast number of identical days his life consisted of, all blurring together. For the nearly the whole day, he sat, and let his gaze wander. Then, after uncounted hours, a piercing pair of eyes jumped out of the blurry haze, like a pair of wildflowers in the desert. It was a young woman, and those striking blue eyes were overflowing with understanding. It was difficult to make out more than the eyes- Ed guessed that she was at least eight rows away, and only a sliver of her room was visible. Even so, Ed could just make out her face- thin, like a shoot of grass growing through a crack in the concrete, and her lips were moving. Forming words.
Hi. My name is Amelia. What’s yours? Ed stared back, his mouth forming the words silently, 
Hi. My name is Eddy. It’s nice to meet you.
           It’s nice to meet you too.
The lights turned off for the night
	Ed woke up the instant the lights clicked on the next morning, flushed with excitement at meeting Amelia. He was also worried, afraid that today she wouldn’t be there, that his first friend would be gone before he knew her. He’d lain awake for hours. I’m overthinking this he fretted. Everyone else had friends; everyone had people they talked to. So why did Amelia seek me out? I know why I don’t have any friends. What is her reason? Is she like me? On top of everything else, Ed worried about what he would “say” to Amelia the next day. He knew what his neighbors talked about, but nothing seemed appropriate. What was there to talk about? Nothing ever happened to him, or anybody, not that seemed to bother other people. 
	The lights were on, and Ed rolled over. Focusing into the distance, Ed peered through the glass, his eyes filtering out the meaningless rows of other people, glossing over them like part of the scenery. For several moments he did not see her, and panicked, but then he saw the striking blue eyes. His breath caught in his throat at their sudden appearance- he hadn’t thought about what to say. 
Hi she said
Hi he replied 
	It’s nice to see you again. Did you sleep well last night?
Yes… No. I could hardly sleep.
	You don’t look tired.
No… Unasked questions filled Ed’s throat.

	Tell me a story, Eddy.
A story? About what?
	Anything but here.

Ok… There is a place with no walls. It has no ceiling- a man in this place is free to move in any way he wishes, he is not constrained in any direction. 
	What about the floor?
…There is a floor, but even the floor falls away in the distance, ever so slowly. It would take hundreds of days to make it to the end of the floor, and even then, you would be back where you started, because the floor curves back around on its self.
	What is the floor like?
It is like nothing you have ever seen. The floor is made of an endless amount of raw matter, called earth. You could dig a hole in it, as deep as you want, and you would never reach the bottom. You could take this earth, and turn it into anything you can imagine. You could create a world of your imagination with earth. And already, the earth forms a world beyond your imagination. In places, there are towers of it, reaching ever upward, defying limitation, held back by nothing.
The young women woke, and lay with her eyes closed. Often she would spend entire days with her eyes closed. She stretched her arms out, feeling to the edge of her world, the smooth and spherical surface around her. As she lay with her eyes closed, she had a thought, not a new thought, but an idea that had been lurking around the edges of recognition for quite some time. What if there was more to the world?
And she did open her eyes- and looked at the smooth surfaces in a different way. The idea nagged at her. She had never even considered them as… walls… until now- what was a wall, but something separating two things? If she was one thing, what was the other? Another… somebody?
	Are there people on this world? mouthed Amelia
Yes, there are, and they are the happiest people in the universe.
	Why are they so happy?
What makes them happy… well, their lives are completely under their control. Every person can make his or her life in any way they choose. In fact, they can make themselves anyway they want. At the beginning of existence they are very small, and know nothing of the world under them. As time passes, they grow in mind and body, deciding how to perceive their world, and what they want to do in it. They can make friends with who they choose, they can move about to any place on the world. Even if a person should find the earth not in their liking, they can take the earth from under their free walking feet, and build anything, the only limit is their imagination, making a new world in a new image. 
	It sounds extraordinary. Do the people ever stop growing in mind and body?
Yes said Ed In this perfect world, there can be no imagination and no appreciation, not without a cost. The cost is their time. A person may exist on this world, always growing, if not in body, but in mind, but the price is he or she cannot exist forever.
	How does someone come to not exist?
Their bodies cease to function, and become raw earth, the material from whence they are created. This finite time in this Eden is what compels them to appreciate, what compels them to make the most of their time, making the world better for those who would come after them.
	It does sound perfect- a place where there can be no dissatisfaction, where any person can be the tool of change they wish to see.
The young women sat in her room, with the spherical walls around her. She had not thought of them as walls before, but now she did. She dreamed longingly of walls- walls meant there was something more. A wall had something on the other side. She had never imagined a universe with walls before, but now she did.
	There is a place with walls she thought this place is made of walls, walls with other persons on the other side. There is an infinite array of people, an infinite array of rooms, with the people on all sides of every room. And the walls would be clear, so you could see the people. In this Eden, a person would never be alone; he or she would be surrounded by wonderful walls, with people just on the other side. And so no person could ever be bored, while having other people to share your thoughts with. The mind is infinite in imagination, and with others to share it with, this would be the perfect world. 
	And she fell asleep for the night. 
	When she awoke she looked around in amazement at the rows and rows of clear hexagonal walls stretching into the distance, with people just on the other side. She looked around at her nearest neighbors, and was surprised that their names popped into her head, and she felt like she had known them her whole life. Names were new to her, she had never needed names in her one person world, but now, with tingle of joy, she realized she too had a name. She said it out loud, and liked the way it rolled off her tongue.
	For a long time Amelia was in bliss, soaking up friendship like an elixir. Despite her happiness, she slowly realized that her friends while content and happy, were not like her. At least, not like she was now- they were like herself in her lonely old world, before she imagined walls. And she looked at her new world, tried to see it from a new perspective, tried to imagine something better than walls, but she could not. But there must be those in this world that envision even brighter worlds. To this world’s denizens, I’ve created a place no better than my old world, they just don’t realize it. But there are so many people here; it is only a matter of time. And so she looked. She peered through the transparent walls, and looked. One day she found him- a young man who looked as alone as she had once felt. She could barely make him out through all the walls, but eventually, after many hours, his eyes met hers. 
Hi. My name is Amelia. What’s yours? she mouthed silently, 
Hi. My name is Eddy. It’s nice to meet you.
           It’s nice to meet you too.

 	Ed woke. He heard a rushing noise around his ears. Carefully, he opened his eyes. At first he thought he was blind- the world was white around him. Then his eyes adjusted to the light, and saw that he was standing on a strange ledge, made of a white material, which crunched when he shifted his weight. The ledge was hundreds of feet from the… floor? Looking at his arms, he saw he was wearing strange clothing- bulky and intricate. He had a set of strange tools around his waist, and with an odd sensation, he felt his mind fill in their names. Icy pick. Crampons. Bolts. Ed heard steps behind him, and turned to see another man, dressed the way he was.
	“G-day mate! Didn’t see you ahead of me.” He said in a strange accent, “Hell of a view isn’t it?”
Ed looked out over the expanse, far into the distance, and saw the earth dropped away at the horizon. The icy air caught in his throat, as his eyes tried to take in the sheer magnitude of the space. And to his even greater surprise, for the first time in his life he found his voice, and replied,
	“One hell of a view!”
Alex McCarthy
Published in Issue 34