There’s a clock in the center of the town, where ravens threaten the robins that perch along the marble stone. Clock hands hesitant within every hour as the sun slowly caresses it’s nostalgic fingers along its surfaces. Its bell was perched above an old grand church that sang its hymns and dirges with a heavy and burning soul, calling for all grievances and sins to be washed away like a quick shower. The clock was often off, and instead of chiming hourly, it would reside in a moment and move onto another. It may have been off, but it never seemed to be late. It chimed when Patria Rosado was born— naked, ugly and empty, it chimed when Satira Rosado adjusted her wedding veil just right so she could get a better glimpse of her husband through the burning light of the sun. The clock chimed the moment Nolan Pollak smiled at Tulsa Vera. It chimed when Lillian Kesler wanted a moment for her body to be hers. When her son decided he could love who he wanted. It even chimed right at the moment Theodore’s curls intertwined with the scarlet painted weeds that grew behind the old park they all used to play in, the one just a few turns from the old wine factory— and the framing proved him casket pretty.
It sits right at the intersection of the North and the South, the North being populated with those of freckled, dotted, speckled, dirtied, burned and ashed skin. Shades of ebony, hues of chocolate treats that were once wrapped in gold, the memory of a lake in the midst of August’s end. There were alabaster people too, with their sunken eyes and cracked lips from the words they’ve begged to put together. The drumming of their peeling fingers and the dust around their tranquil eyes. The South were all ivory and alabaster, eyes of spring and summer, locks soft and long. The houses rose above most of the roofs in the North, women dressed in their privileges and men leaving a trail of success and dominance with every step their loafers took— smiles straight out of the Sunday television. The adults avoided each other — as adults often believe they should— while the children line up on its border. The church’s clock tower marked an uneven line that favoured the band of ivory skinned boys and girls and roped the ashed skin of the Northern children into an oval within the ivory territory, surrounded. But these days the corner street remained deserted as the security cameras aimed itself in the shadow of their footprints, whenever it panned towards the tower it was clear to see: someone had spray painted a message, so if it were to chime at the correct time, the people would have no clue. The message read thus:
Welcome to Omelas
The town’s name was Gardberg, yet, the moment everyone awoke from their new year hangover and false hope, they— even those opposed — began calling it so. No one bothered to find out who it was, even so they’d usually blame it on the Northern teenagers, yet the clock held no more significance to them anymore, they had clocks on their wrists and their phones, what was the use for them having one in the center of town?
The majority placed their hands together in prayer in the town’s grand church, Saint Genova, the rest— The Jews, Buddhists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and conservative Christians— resided in their church houses up towards the hills that neared the next town over or were vested within their own homes in quiet worship. Within Saint Genova, with its streaming stained glass windows, strong candle and wood scent, and golden lit dome that enclosed everyone within its own shining rays, were two long rows of seats. It was never discussed or enforced, yet, the aisle would be separating the “dirt skinned” and the “dirt lovers” from their ivory skin and handkerchiefs, rose-caked cheeks, pressed suits and cardigans. No one threw fits if a Caribbean woman bothered to sit on their side, on the right— though awkward silence ensued and hands were firmly pressed against her fellow lady’s handbag. It happened once, when old Irene McKay lost her seat to Ramona Alleyne, and usually no one bothered to see if the damned woman was able to get out of bed. Yet as soon as Miss Alleyne sauntered in and sat down in her Barbados-cloth made dress, her dainty feet hidden within her blossom embroidered and street-stained flats, everyone in and around the row turned their heads and immediately asked each other if Irene McKay had gotten sick during those short snow days.
Ramona Alleyne had recently immigrated from the island of Barbados and had acquired a job in the Southern part of town as a cashier and maintenance person in a salon. Women were already beginning to ostracize her for her inviting lips and complementing bosom. But besides waiting to mark her as the town’s newly appointed whore, they were shocked to find her dim enough to lack the common sense requisite to fitting into the community. Patria Rosado watched as Miss Alleyne straightened her back and kept her eyes fixed on the shining gold of the dome and the way it’s column fastened themselves to the scenery. Men gazed at her and women snickered at the foolish smile she let curve on her lips whenever someone welcomed her and she’d reply in her thick island accent and outstretched her hand only to be waved down with their gloved ones. She’d ask if she could look on to someone's hymnal and wouldn’t hesitate to lean in, even if she smelled like coucou or pelau. Her amber skin and long dreadlocks stood against the rows of alabaster skin and neat buns. Patria was fascinated.
This was originally an assignment from my Sophomore English class during our unit on Toni Morrison. This, of course, is unfinished. It's based off my life in a small, factory town in Massachusetts. I never got around to finishing it, but I often come back to it, wondering what I could add. Personally, I think it's my best work, not that it's written perfectly, but the story itself and the way it flows out-- I really like that.