When I was four they bulldozed one of the biggest of the first domes in Barlow county and built a freeway offramp from way over on route 22 to almost the end of old Drycreektown. I was in High School thirteen years later when Sammy joined the Planet Brigade and went off and left Pricilla, and she was two months pregnant. She stayed with us until the baby came and then she saw the Minister over at the Methodist Church and they helped her to get the baby into an Adoption service up in New Mars City. She left after that. In 2065 when I was twenty I went home for summer break off from college and got a job at Hansens farm installing mechanical cows out in the fields. I met Jenny and we started going together. And it was just after Evan was born that the city council tore down the old High School and leased the property over to Teneco Oil. We used to have a house in Barlow. But it got rough, later, when the refinery was built. Work was work. It was either that or the Penitentiary at Crawford. But Jen's parents were ill that year and so we moved farther into the dryer interior and away from the original domes and the communities that sprouted up around them. Which is a long way from all the things I remembered growing up. After that the years just sort of swam by. Later they took out the whole center of Barlow and built a new town square and all the places I remember, and maybe especially Skip's Boots just off the freeway as you came into town, were no longer there. All gone. Well, not all of it. But most of it. And now fifty years later with the kids off with families of their own Jen and I went back for a visit. But its not like I remember it at all. Its not even home anymore. Just some place, out in the middle of nowhere. With trees and hills and every once in a while, a white picket fence around an old house, that looks half familiar. But those are mostly gone. And I drive out route forty and then pull over on the side of the road with the engine idling and pat Jenny's knee and feel her hand on my shoulder and the soft wisps of her hair against my cheek. "It's not the same." She says. And I nod. But I can't say anything, Because there is something in my throat, something that I can't swallow and get through just yet. And I ask Jen to drive. Opening the door and feeling the dust of the road sweep past in small gusts. As I walk around and stand by the side of the car and tears fall down my cheeks. "Are you alright?" She asks me in a soft voice. I nod, and stand there for just a little bit. As the dust blows and the sunlight falls down. And you and I would never know that the world had ever changed from so small a thing as just that wind. Just from that heat sitting on my shoulders, with me standing there in my jacket. But it has. And you and I can never go back. And I wish there was someone I could yell at. But it wouldn't bring back the things I remember. I get into the car and Jen puts the car in first and pulls out slow, in a slow billowing rush of red clay road dust. Crickets crick along the side of the road. "It isn't fair." I say, just to myself. But Jen is concentrating on the road and only nods and keeps driving. And we drive back home, which really isn't home, just the place where we sleep and eat and live. But home really isn't here anymore. I wonder if that is what happens when the world gets younger and younger; until it isn't a part of the same world that we remember, anymore?
x x x