“John! John! Wake up! John!” These were the sounds I kept hearing as I tried to blink my eyes open. When did I faint? I was trying to figure that out when suddenly a hand slapped me hard on the cheeks.
“Ow! What was that for?” I was fully awake now.
“Sorry. Just checking that you were still alive.” Anne said. “We found you sleeping in the bathroom. Why were you sleeping in there? That’s ridiculous!” She laughed.
I remembered. The soldiers. The sound of the car engine. The hiding-in-the-bathroom-cupboard episode.
“I’ll tell you the whole story.” I replied. “But first, get some water for me. I fainted. I’m thirsty. Really. Get water to me now.” Toby ran over to the cabin where we kept our supplies. Soon, he was back with a cup of water. I slowly drank it in. Water never felt more refreshing.
I started to tell the story in full detail, starting with how I heard the sounds of the car engine to how the soldiers had looked through the cabin. Then, they had tried to break their way into the bathroom, which I was hiding in. Isaac’s expression has soured quickly, and I could understand why. It was rather worrying to know that the soldiers now knew that there were people in this area, and that soon a whole division of soldiers were going to sweep the national park. When I finished telling the episode, there was full silence.
Toby groaned. “Well, what do you guys think of all this?”
“It’s not going to be good.” Isaac said. I looked at his face. I sincerely hoped that he was not going to get into another Isaac depression.
“Elaborate”. Toby replied to Isaac.
“Well, from what John has said, it means that the soldiers suspect that these cabins could hold quite a lot of people. They might return before that Division Eight comes simply to take us out first.
“The soldiers probably didn’t find anything in these cabins worth taking, because of the fact that when I went into my room, everything was still there, although the room did look a wee bit messy. But the things we left out,”Isaac pointed to the plate of half-eaten fish, “that points that no matter what, people are here, and they will still be here. These cabins are no longer safe for us.
“This means that we need to find a new place to live in, until this godforsaken revolution is over.”
I nearly choked on the water I was drinking.
“Are you serious?”
“No, I wasn’t serious. I was joking.” Isaac’s face was stern. “We don’t have time for this. We need to act as soon as possible.”
“Where are we going to sleep then?” Toby inquired. “How are we going to live? I can’t sleep without a bed. All of you know that.”
I remembered. I had shared tents with Toby once on a camping trip and Toby was awake all night, complaining about how the ground was hard. His sleep during the time we were making our way back to camp from the river before the revolution was probably due to sheer exhaustion.
“This isn’t a time for luxury.” Isaac said. “I like sleeping on soft beds with my head on a pillow too, but we can’t afford it right now. We can still keep our supplies in the cabin and come back to get them from time to time, but it’s too dangerous to live in it now. We need to find someplace else.
“Now, I’m just talking on and on like a silly person, but this is the question: where?”
There was silence. Where? Where could we go and live now?
“How did they live when cities weren’t created yet?” Sophie asked.
“They lives in caves, but I am NOT going to live in one.” Toby said grimly. “It’s not like there are many caves around here anyway.”
“I have a plan.” I said.
“What is it?” Isaac asked. He looked very serious. I chuckled.
“This is like a stage script.” I said. “I mean, we’re all taking turns to talk so nicely. I have a plan. What is it?” I laughed even more.
“What is your plan?” Isaac snapped.
“My plan is for us to go buy tents. We’ll have to live like campers. We’ll sleep in them. But we keep our supplies in the cabins, and when we need them we sneak in to get them. It’s simple.” I looked around, checking for approval. Toby nodded.
“It’s a good plan, but I spot a flaw. There isn’t anyone to buy tents from anymore.” Toby said smugly. I laughed. True. Even if I wanted to pay, or, more accurately, even if I had money to pay for a tent, I wouldn’t have anywhere to buy it. I could only take it withoutt he owner’s permission.
“This means we need to make another trip to town.” Anne said. There was another silence. Anne spoke again. “I suggest that we don’t all go to town. That way,” she glanced at everyone, “not all of us will be captured if something goes wrong.” We all nodded. No one was willing to volunteer, however. There was yet another uneasy silence. Finally, Toby raised his hand.
“I’ll do it. I’ll go.”
Anne nodded. “Isaac? Can you go with Toby?”
Isaac froze. I don’t think he was willing to do that. He looked around. Everyone was staring at him. Finally, he nodded, although he looked unwilling.
“We don’t have to go quite yet however.” Toby said. “I don’t think the soldiers will be back very soon. We’ll enjoy our last days on a nice soft bed and get our things ready. Then, Isaac and I will set off for town.” He pointed towards his bicycle. “It won’t be such a long and hard trip this time, with a better vehicle of transportation.”
I clasped my hand to my forehead. The fever wasn’t gone yet.
“Can someone make a list of things we need to get, so that Toby and Isaac can do a bit of shopping when he’s at town? We need medicine. If I’m sick for much longer then I’m sure the pills will soon be gone.”
“Sure, I can do that.” Sophie said. She grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper, and retreated to the cabin.
“Well, I want some rest too.” Isaac said. Toby had already disappeared with Sophie. I decided to take out the Tylenol and I gulped it in with a drink of water. I needed to ease the heat in my body.
“I need to have a look at the plants.” Anne said. “You wanna come too?”
“Sure, I’ll go.”
We walked to behind the cabin, where Anne and Sophie had planted the seeds we brought back from town. I made a mental note to tell Sophie to get more of the seeds. I could see that the first little green shots were springing up from the soft, fertile ground.
“We need to get fertilizer.” Anne said. “I think it’ll help these grow a bit faster.” She then giggled. “Actually, no. There’s no way Toby can heave a whole bag of fertilizer back here.”
“We can give him a shopping cart.” I jokingly pointed out.
“Sure, as if the soldiers won’t spot two teenagers running around town with a shopping cart.” After speaking, Anne picked up a bottle of water nearby. I hadn’t noticed it. She washed the water over the little green plants. Looking at it reminded me of scenes of home and the little garden I had in the backyard. I sighed.
“I wish this revolution has never happened.”
“No one wishes it did, except perhaps the people in the Great Leader’s circle, whoever he is.” Anne muttered. “It’s stupid, really. The age of communism and Khmer Rouge-style of running a country is over. It doesn’t work. It’s proven already. Soviet Russia didn’t work. Communist China didn’t work. Really, communism didn’t really work out anywhere. People can’t be equal. We aren’t born equal.”
“I mean, look at these plants.” Anne said, gesturing at them. “They won’t grow to the same height. Some will die before the others, because they are weak. You can’t force these plants to be equal. It’s the same thing with humans. We’re not equal. Some of us are more intelligent than others. Some are stronger.
“And these plants? Well, we did force them into settlements, kinda. They’re called gardens. But then, when there aren’t us around to keep them tidy, what would it look like?” Anne pointed to the forests beyond. “These plants will go over the limits set by humans. They’ll unleash themselves. Humans are the same. We can’t be forced to live in settlements and not go anywhere like that…”
I blinked. I never knew Anne was actually that thoughtful. Before this I knew she was a quiet and smart girl, but not that she was this philosophical, and I blurted my thoughts out loud. Anne laughed. “I don’t like sharing my ideas with other people. I don’t really find it very enjoyable.” I could sympathize with that.
Anne pointed at the plants again. “I miss being so young and small like these little ones sometimes. I mean, when you were young, all that mattered in the world was eating ice cream and running around, playing tag. Life was simpler back then.”
“Yeah, I know. But now, things are worse. Because of this stupid revolution.” Everything seemed to link back to this revolution, no matter what I said. “Why does this Great Leader have everything his way? No one asked for a stupid revolution. We liked our capitalist world that way. I really hope that this not-so-Great Leader is gonna be overthrown soon. Like really. My patience is wearing down.” I could feel the temper heating up inside of me, but it could just be my fever.
Anne nodded. “We’ll have to hope for the best, that everything will turn out all right. She paused. “It’s the only thing we can do”.