I found this in a notebook, written at a small writing group I was part of in 1999. I hope to do some editing, but for now this is it…and there are more pages that came later but need to be found.. Martha
Her feet moved quickly over the terra-cotta tiles still cool from the night’s breezes. Stepping over the shadow of the house into the morning sun was like walking through a doorway. The temperature changes here were so extreme from night to day. It was a constant reminder of where she was. How different her life was now, how strange to watch as her children grew up in this world of sand and sun, how their familiarity with spiders and snakes were usual to them as they were unusual to her. Clair stopped for a moment. The sun was already warming the clay tiles beneath her bare feet. Her we hair was already drying. This had become the only time of day it was possible to enjoy the freedom of movement through the courtyard, before the sun cam fully pushing every crack of shadow away like a huge broom sweeping yesterday off into the dustpan. Clair was distracted today, her mind was wandering far off. She stretched as she reached out for the cord, dared to look into the sky for a moment, then returned to hr morning task of unwinding the cord from the first post, still holding it taught in her hand as she let it slide into place then walked to the next post until she finished at the other side and stepped into the kitchen. The courtyard now shaded by the cowl. It was like an awning and made of fibre from the prickly pear cactus. A discovery come upon by accident. They were looking for something else, trying to find a way to use the abundance of cactus that had been proliferating like made. One of the few plant forms that started appearing in places where they had not been before. Paper was what they wanted, something like paper, something to use like paper and in the process it became softer like a membrane and pieces easily linked together with the incredible property of not allowing the UV rays in. A group of students had discovered it, this made it possible to again to be outdoors during the day. It was slow that they became nocturnal creatures. Clair longed for glowing sun she had known, this cowl was an experiment, and it was working. The difficulty was how to let it be known and not have such an influx of people returning that the quiet they knew now would be gone forever. It would take time for that to happen. Travel was difficult as it could only be done during the night on foot or self-propelled vehicles. Lots of new ideas and designs but the amount of labor involved made it impossible to get anywhere without leaving everything behind.
This was all a very sudden shift, drastic, sometime in the early 21st century following a few years of weather pattern changes and shifts in the tectonic plates. They had no idea what was really going on. Many blaming things making up false reasons, convinced the world and themselves that it was the thinning of the ozone layer, caused by all this neglect of the planet. It appeared as if everything shifted, what was once thought fanatic had now become the norm. That our innocence had led us to not look at what was really happening. Extra terrestrial had gone from comic books and science fiction stories to reality. Survival became most important,of course, and the truth was again being hidden by some. Fear was the key, but we were all so secure in being who we were, at least generations were trying to convince themselves as to how important we were. How special this place, how life as we know it, knew it, was why we indeed strived for.
The constant movement across the planet, constant movement of people and their needs, travel for business and pleasure. Airports overcrowded, everyone going someplace as soon as they had the money to buy a ticket and get off work. A change of scenery, climate, culture, language. A breakdown of boarders money becoming the common denominator and boredom the disease. The plague of AIDS moving swiftly just as the money. The same breakdown of boarders , flowing freely diminishing mans ability to care, it had become too much. So much pain and fear pushed people farther into the realm of the unreal, more travel, more escape and more possessions.
Evrything was connected, not one occurence at that time was not connected to another, but they could not see the connections. The ones in power could not see it, not politicians, they were somehow in place as a diversion to confuse the issues.
The people had become obsessed with belonging to something. Whatever was similar clung together under banners, the more groups with banners clung together the more separate they became. There was no possibility of listening, because the amount being said turned int chaos. An old television show claiming as its undercurrent ” The Truth is out There”, was somehow a strange hint connecting with old sacred teachings of “The Truth is Within”. The inner and the outer had to connect but the confusion, the grabbing, the greed of a planet full of people all wanting something, all pointing fingers, and waiving their own banners left no room to see anything.
Bang, almost like that old science fiction move “The Day the Earth Stood Still’ everything stopped. It became quiet. Followed by the usual reactions of panic and looting it all quieted down, and people had to go about their business of survival and it became less violent. They had trouble looking at each other once they found out. It was harder to face, as the fantasy of extra terrestrials became reality it had always been. The question of God and religion caused many to believe it could not be true. The possibility of God was stronger, of many Gods of an orchestration of existence, of reason, of caring for without that bugaboo of religion.
“Clair” Clair her name echoed across the veranda. Elton her husband was awake and probably reaching for his sun protectors which she had taken with her into the kitchen to look for something to fix the hinge on them. “OK Elle, I’ll be right there” she said grabbing a small screw drier like pick and tightening the hinge. He climbed out of their hammock stretching in the morning heat.