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The Last What?

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Sometimes when the ship lights turn off we go find Selin and he tells us stories. We don’t believe them really, but we still like to listen. Some of us kids think he’s probably pretty smart because he’s so old, but we still make fun of him when he’s not around. Like sometimes we tie scrap metal to our arms and legs and make little motor noises when we walk, or try to talk without moving our mouths. It’s actually pretty hard but I guess he’s had a lot of practice.

Sometimes he tells the stories like they happened to him even though we all know they didn’t. He says he remembers when everything was different, years and years ago when he was a kid like us. I asked him how old he was once and he said there was no way of knowing. I believe that because it’s pretty hard to imagine him as a kid.

He told us that once upon a time we used to live on another ship, but on the outside. I guess it was a lot but bigger than this one. He said it was so big that the air would just stick to it and everybody just walked around outside like it was nothing. He said this ship was close to a star, and I guess stars are actually pretty hot and bright when you get close to them, which is part of the reason everybody could stay outside all the time. Also he said it was always turning, so sometimes it was so bright that you couldn’t see all the other stars and sometimes it was dark like normal. He says that all our time words like day and night and year come from how things used to work on that ship.

My friend Nikita says this is bunk. She says that his stories just take the stuff from the ship and make it bigger and better. Like when he talks about trees he’s just making up bigger versions of the plants in the hydro gardens. Or oceans, or moons, or cities, or any of the other things he talks about. I think maybe she’s right, except that there are some things he talks about that aren’t on the ship. Like animals. He said they weren’t like people and they used to be everywhere and that he was friends with some. He says that maybe when there are more of us we can use the ship to make some animals for us to be friends with. Nikita doesn’t believe he’ll ever do it, but I hope he does. I would really like to be friends with an animal.

Either way, we won’t be having stories for a few days anyway because he’s in the other end of the ship getting the next batch of kids ready. I don’t know why there have to be more of us, even though some of the new kids are usually okay. I’m glad Nikita’s group came, because otherwise I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to about stuff like this. Selin says that for a long time he was the only one on the whole ship, and that before there used to be tons of people just like him, but they were all asleep and I guess something went wrong and now all that’s left is the kids that the ship makes. He says by the time we’re as old as him the ship will be full of people again.

I asked him once if the ship made him and he said no. I asked him where he came from then, and he just looked away and said “I’m the last one.” Then he left. We didn’t get any stories that night or the next night and everybody was mad at me but it wasn’t my fault because it was just a question. And anyway, what kind of answer is that? The last what?

Photo © Christoph Hormann (earth.imagico.de)

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