The Misery

The guard threw me a new empty bag.  The filled bags were taken to the truck at the edge of the field.  As my empty stomach growled I opened a perion-seed pod that was a-food  long.  There were green seeds that were thrice larger than the peas in it.  I ate them.  They were sweet and nutty.  I ate some more.

“Don’t eat the seeds, you pig!”  the Makumban guard barked.

I fought not to pulverize him, for I knew the consequence of my action.  I didn’t want to be killed and become a wandering ghost in  this field.  Stay alive, Marlon.      

“Eat this,” #268 gave me his sandwich from the bag.

“Keep it for yourself.”

“Come here,” he whispered to me, moving toward a nearby shady area where several pickers were smoking.  He rolled the dried perion leaves in a piece of paper, grabbed a dried stick of perion branch from the ground and rubbed it vigorously against the side of his metal ankle-cuff.  A minute later the stick burst into a flame.  He put it to the rolled cigaret and puffed.  “Perion stick is the best,” he said.  “Other sticks don’t burn easily.”

I bent to feel my ankle-cuff.  It was hot, heated by the scorching sun.  My socks protected my skins from getting burn.

He gave me the cigaret but I didn’t take it.  Perion-cigaret was highly addictive, stronger than marijuana.  I used to smoke marijuana when I was in high school and knew it made me lazy and unmotivated.  I didn’t want that now.  I must stay sober if I want to survive.

“This is how we cope with our misery,” #268 said.

(from THE SPACE HERMITS)

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