It’s very warm out today. It’s too warm to go out and play, and Jilly and I don’t want to anyways because when we go outside the dust blows in our faces and it feels like we’re choking. Father says the land is breaking up, because there hasn’t been any rain out here. I don’t like it.
I want to go home. Back home the land isn’t breaking up. Father says we can’t go back, though, because of the Mayor. When we left, Father told us why. Father is very good to us. He tells us everything, even when other people’s fathers say we’re too small to know, because he says we need to be strong and we can’t be strong if we’re too little to know things. He told us what happened.
He said when he was little, he had a younger brother called Yarrow. Kind of like me and Jilly, he said, only Jilly and I are friends, and he wasn’t friends with Yarrow. He said Yarrow was kind of mean, and he was really mean to a girl named Lacey and that girl was the Mayor’s sister. The Mayor didn’t really like Yarrow because he was so mean to his sister, and even one time he hurt her really bad, but he couldn’t do anything about it because Yarrow was lots bigger. Only now, the Mayor is the Mayor, and he has lots of power, so he wanted to get back at Yarrow for hurting his sister. Father said that when the Mayor started being Mayor, he had the Agency pick up Yarrow and they sent him away too. Father calls it exile, and he says there are rules, like when they send someone away from the city, they have to give them enough food and other things so that they can make it to an oasis or a village.
Only Father says we’re not supposed to be in exile. He says that the Mayor sent us away because Yarrow was Father’s little brother, except Father never did anything to the Mayor’s sister or to the Mayor or even to anyone. Father didn’t say the last part but I know it’s true because Father is the nicest person ever and also because I heard people in the city saying how he was a good man and had never done anything bad. Even Miss Annabelle at the corner shop said we shouldn’t be exiled and she doesn’t like anyone. Father never even talked to his brother once they grew up. He says it was because he was ashamed to be connected to him. I don’t really understand that part, but it’s not important. What’s important is that we didn’t even do anything, but we were exiled anyways. When Father told us, I said that’s not fair and he said I was right. Then he told me a big word that means that it’s not fair. He said our exile is an ‘injustice’.
So there. I asked why we couldn’t go back, if it was an injustice, and Father said it’s because the Mayor wouldn’t let us. But he said that it doesn’t matter. He told us we couldn’t change other people, even if they weren’t fair. Father always says that we can only control ourselves. He told us about the Samuel Mason Family, and how they were exiled a long time ago before I was even born, but after Father was grown up. He said it was also an injustice, but that they got really mad at the city and didn’t want to leave. Of course, the Agency picked them up and left them outside the gates. He says they had all the things we did, but that instead of looking for a new home, they just set up outside the city and stayed there. I asked why they did that and he smiled like he does when I ask smart questions. Then he told me. He said that Samuel Mason was a very little man and that he worried a lot about what people said about him. I asked why it mattered that he was little and he said he didn’t mean little like me, like short. He said he meant little in spirit. Then he said anyways, he was really worried about what people said about him, so he stayed right outside the gates to show people that it was an injustice, because he didn’t want people to think of him as an exile. After a long time, they ran out of food and things because they wouldn’t take any help from the caravans. Father told us how even one time he went with some friends to try and help them and they brought more food and other important things because they had run out. But even when it was his friends trying to help him, he didn’t want to take anything. Father says Samuel Mason tried to hit him and his friends and yelled and made them go away. I don’t know why he did that, because if I was Samuel Mason and someone tried to help me I would let them -especially if Jilly was with me because I need to keep Jilly safe too. I thought maybe he would need to keep his family safe, but Father says Samuel Mason never thought about that. Anyways, eventually, the rest of the family left with a caravan because they couldn’t live out there and Samuel Mason died.
Father says we are not going to be like the Samuel Mason Family. He says that’s because we know who we are. He told me and Jilly that we were going to leave instead of arguing because we knew the truth. He says if we know that we didn’t do anything wrong, then it doesn’t matter what everyone else says. He says that’s why we’re moving on and finding a new home. Inside of me, Father says, I’ve got a little picture of myself. He asked me what that picture looked like and I told him. Pretty much it just looks like me. I am not very tall, but I am strong for a little person. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and freckles, and I like to smile a lot even when the land is breaking up. Father said that’s a good picture. He says it shows that I have lots of self-respect -Father says respect is when you have good manners with someone- because I think I’m strong. He says knowing that we’re strong is what lets us move on ‘independently of other’s encouragements’. I didn’t know what that meant so he said it meant ‘without other people telling us we can do it’. But he also said that’s what let us take help from the caravan that came by, because it’s not weakness, it’s just that we need to because of the injustice that happened to us.
I don’t really like it out here. I don’t like that the land is breaking up and that it’s too dusty and warm to play outside of the wagon with Jilly. I think it’s alright, though. I don’t think it matters that there was an injustice. I’m strong, and so are Jilly and Father, and we’re all together. That’s all that matters.