Are You Alienated: part four
Are You Alienated
“If I look you up,” she asked Emmett, “what would I find out?”
“You might try the experiment now, if you are really interested.”
Minta thought she ought to. It hadn’t occurred to her to use her phone. But no, she realized…she would probably find out nothing, or he wouldn’t be so confident.
“You said, ‘by the way’.”
“I was going to mention, if it would please you, that you appear somewhat younger than your age.”
This austere compliment was, Minta thought, at least offered sincerely. He’d held his mistake at the back of his mind.
“Have you made your three points yet?” she asked.
“No, not even the first. You keep jumping about from topic to topic. Let me see… You were born in 1950, or, it might equally have been 1960. Not you, of course.”
“The woman who lives in the dome.” Enjoying the waywardness of the conversation, Minta added a declamatory fling of the hand; and, for an instant, found herself locking eyes with a young man, either performing as he walked along, or rapping to music piped into his ear. Without missing a beat, he continued to do so.
“What did you dream of becoming when you were twenty years old?” Emmett asked.
“Oh, goodness!” She was caught off guard. She felt herself blushing, karmic payback for staring at Cammie. She looked at Emmett, and decided he must have grown to like her. A corner of his mouth curved, but―almost in a caring way―he turned his face from her.
“Well, I used to sing. I thought I was going to be…”
“A rock star, something to that effect.”
“Okay, but doesn’t everyone?”
“Again, my point. Not, however, one of the three points. We haven’t got there yet. You are twenty years old and you dream of becoming a rock star. Your ethnicity, your religion, your economic position, your country of origin—those things are immaterial. Anywhere on earth, you may live on the hope of the unattainable at an age when all things seem possible.”
“So I―the character―was born in 1950?”
“You find,” Emmett touched Minta lightly on the arm, signaling her to look, rather than listen, “that the city envelops you? As though you were a child exploring the family lumber room, among so many painted vanities and stuffed heads?”
She shrugged, conjuring his imagery in her mind. He meant something by it, after all. Emmett continued: “We will have a look at the river Neva. It possesses something of the Waterloo Bridge phenomenon. A certain nighttime allure as the light’s reflections bob along with the wavelets. But let’s assume that it is 1990. You are nearly forty, we will say, and you no longer dream.”
“I can dream a little, can’t I?”
“You may dream of stability. You and others of your generation. Your expectations have matured. Your generation’s influence on your nation’s politics and culture will be a mirror of your own experience.”
Minta and her mother-in-law had bought a discount tour package. The river, at this season, was neither bathed in romantic light, nor encased in ice. Its steady current pulsed silver, like many voices whispering a word in confidence, then vanishing. Emmett’s cryptic thoughts called to Minta’s mind his first remark.
(copyright 2015 Stephanie Foster)