I feel a hand on my shoulder and almost shudder at being touched unannounced again after Corin’s hug earlier, but I relax seeing it’s Devon giving me some support. Others, not so much. They’re protesting that I’m holding up the line.
“Look, I know I started this whole thing. I do believe there’s safety in numbers, but this isn’t at all what I thought when I said people could live together.”
Devon leaves me going to talk with Corin and I watch the crowd, trying to keep them. I can see the bemused looks on the faces of Corin’s A-list of friends. They’re ready to pounce, I’m sure, but I have a right to speak up. This is a town meeting after all.
“It’s ok if you want to expose what room you have and let others in, but that’s like picking a roomate from a newspaper ad. And what if you don’t get on with who answers the ad? I take a breath, still gathering my thoughts. Why I didn’t just stay home and paint today is beyond me. “The idea behind a tribe is something more than a shared living space. It’s a sense of unity and shared responsibilities. It’s like a society within a society but there’s a bond of kinship, something you should feel comes naturally between you and others, not forced just because you have spare bedrooms.”
I don’t know if anyone is listening anymore. I turn around looking at Claire and her map, ever the overachieved effort, in its detail and size. Such a shame there’s no teacher to give her a gold star. Then again I’m sure she’s getting satisfaction out of Corin’s acknowledgement. I can just imagine he flashed those pearly-whites and hypnotized her with those eyes of his giving her all the praise she craved.
I turn back around looking at all the eyes on me. The girl who was next in line that I stopped before reaches around me setting down the colored pencil on the table. She says I make a good point and leaves the line. Several others do too and the line gets shorter but kids keep filling out the paper.
“Whatever, to each their own,” I tell the kids approaching the table. I move out their way but still have more to say. This time I turn my eyes directly to Dev and Corin.
“Living arrangements aren’t the real issue. This is our town and we all have shelter already, unless you fled here recently. I am sure newcomers could find homes without this method too. I clear my thoughts and carry-on, “We should be more worried about clean water and food. Whatever perishables we have will be gone in a matter of months, if that. And we can’t live off of tinned non perishables forever.”
And I don’t want to scare anyone or incite panic, so I don’t say it aloud, but I do think about the electricity too because it will eventually shut-off without the adults running it. What will we do then? Corin was trying to bring us together, I know, but I don’t think he realized what a responsibility it would be.