It was a cold night. Fall, I think, about twelve years after the phone lines went down. The wind was up, but not enough to catch the flag. I didn’t have any laundry drying that night, I think. It’s funny what you remember and what you don’t.
Spore levels were normal, and the electricity was on. I had a leftover burger in the cooler. I had some empty pots left over from the Homegrown Initiative but there wasn’t anything in them. You know, because all the plants died from the spores.
I was sleeping… I think. I know it sounds weird, but I’m not sure I was really asleep… I was hearing things, feeling things. There was sun on my skin, air in my face. Everything was bright and beautiful… I could hear someone calling from faraway, calling for me to… I don’t know. I can’t remember. It was a woman, and in the dream I knew that she was my mother.
I woke up when I realized that. My mother had died in the lab explosion all those years ago. I laid in bed for a few moments, but then I got up.
I went over to the corner under the stairs. That was where I kept the, uh – there’s not really a word for this, is there? Light, maybe? Anyways, I went over to the Light and I tried to – speak? – to it. I thought that maybe the dream meant that she would answer.
It was so strange. I didn’t hear any reply, but I felt… my pulse, my Light pulsing, the pulse of the stars, the universe breathing. I felt the tips of my ears, and I felt like if I looked in the mirror I would see myself – really see myself, see Jayme Tovar and not Aurora Brinkley.
The feelings passed. I shook off my daze and went over to my comm rig. Well, yeah, it was illegal, but it was all I had. I put it together myself, actually – took me months; I had to get all the pieces smuggled separately. I don’t know when or why I decided to put one of these together, but once I did I got obsessed. I had just been surviving, keeping myself afloat, and then this – it was hope. Having the machines, having even the chance of hearing something from the outside world – for the first time, there was hope. There was a chance, however small, that I could make contact, that I’d break through. Every night I went into it thinking, tonight will be the night.
That night… I was sitting there at the rig, when suddenly static filled the air. Voices began speaking, a multitude of languages, all saying the same thing: Mother. I tried to hail them, but there was no response. They cut off as abruptly as they had begun, leaving me wondering if I was still dreaming.
I dunno how many hours I spent searching after that – less than usual. I was still thinking about the message. I was really spooked, so I shut the rig down and grabbed my violin.
I wasn’t planning on ever playing again when I bought it. I just knew when I saw it that I needed it. Maybe it needed me too. It looked like a piece of junk, and the seller was asking for a lot of money – but it called to me. We were the same, the violin and me: lost. Out-of-place. I couldn’t refuse it, so I forked over the cash and swore never to touch it. That night, though, I couldn’t help it. I picked it up and it all came back to me – the lessons, the recitals, the feeling of the bow on the strings. The disappointment in my mother’s eyes when I quit.
I played until dawn.