The Kindness of Rust, Part 3
Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2012
After the day she brought Yún to class, Mingyu and I spent all of our spare time together. We’d sit outside together at lunch, away from the other students, first talking about our pets and then, later and more quietly, about our families. She brought me a little bag of iron shavings to feed Ahmar, and I gave her some of the copper wire that I’d taken from the building sites for Yún.
I told her how my father left after getting a job offworld. He never wrote to me. I think he wanted to forget about us, forget he ever had a wife or a daughter, forget he ever lived on Engaul. I don’t know what we did to make him hate us so much, but I remember seeing mother crying once after getting a letter that could only have come from him. All she would tell me was that he wasn’t coming back. She married Rijal six months later, and had Rahman eight months after that. My little half-brother who took all her time and all her love away from me.
Ahmar was supposed to make up for it, I guess.
Mingyu’s parents were still married, but barely. She said her mother only lived in their house—the big wooden one on the hill, the one house in the village that didn’t come out of a box—a few days out of each month. The rest of the time, she lived in the City and came home with presents for her daughter to buy back the days she’d missed. Yún was one of those presents.
I remember the day we decided what we were going to do. We’d been talking about the question she’d asked me in school: “Do you ever wonder what Class we are?” Looking out at the white sea of cloudgrass that washed against the edges of the fields, and at the ugly rows of plastic modular homes, I started to wonder if we had any right to be here at all. Wherever people went, they made a mess of things and then left again. We invaded every planet and didn’t leave unless it drove us out.
“If someone could let you out of a cage,” she asked, “wouldn’t you want them to?”
I looked down the road at my house, trying to pick it out of all the ones that looked just like it. “I wish they would,” I sighed.
Tomorrow, we’ll go into the cloudgrass with iron shavings and copper wire. Ahmar and Yún will be hungry. Yún will be having babies soon, and that means more mouths to feed. We’ll take care of them all, though. We’ll be good parents, until there are enough of them that they can turn all the fences and all the wires and everything else in this village to rust.
If we’re careful, everyone else will still believe we never meant to do it.