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PART five: diin

Chapter 38: The Border

“Daddy… What will it be like where we are going?” DIIN asked, a day after they had all moved back to the roof of the carriage.

“It is a magical land, my child. A clean land. One without heaps of trash as far as the eyes can see. A land of tall buildings and large houses. Not temporary huts that can fall on your head at any time. A land full of food. A land where we don’t have to scavenge through trash heaps anymore. A land where there will be no days where we have to worry about the possibility of ever having another meal. A place more beautiful than anything we have seen so far. A place where you can finally be a child. A place where you will finally have the kind of childhood you should have always had,” he replied, as he gently stroked her head.

DIIN hadn’t understood anything her father had said. She pretended to have nevertheless. “What does that mean, Daddy?” she asked finally, unable to contain her curiosity.

“Nothing, child,” he laughed and replied. “Nothing. It just means that you can do whatever you want there. Eat whatever you want. Wear whatever you want. Your daddy will be able to get you whatever you want once we get there.”

“Really?” DIIN asked, as her eyes lit up.

Her father nodded, as a wide smile appeared across his face. DIIN hadn’t seen him smile like that for as long as she could remember.

“Will my pets be there too?” DIIN asked.

DIIN felt like her father’s smile briefly disappeared for a split second before it came back. Strangely enough, something about it seemed rather odd. It seemed like it was now taking him a great deal of effort to continue to maintain it.

“You haven’t heard the rumors, have you, friend?” another passenger said, before DIIN’s father could begin to answer.

“Excuse me?” DIIN’s father replied, as he turned to look at the stranger.

“I’ve heard rumors that utopia isn’t as friendly anymore. They don’t want OSZA like us entering their lands anymore,” the stranger said.

“How do you know this?” DIIN’s father asked.

“A few of my relatives have been living there for a while. They said that things are changing up there. The country, its citizens, their views on outsiders, the values they uphold, it’s all beginning to change,” the stranger answered.

“And yet, you’re still making your way there. Doesn’t add up, friend,” DIIN’s father said, emphasizing the last word for some reason.

“Be as snide as you want, friend. I’m only telling you what I heard. And what choice do any of us have exactly? None of us are moving because we want to. We’re all moving because we have to. You’re running away from something, just like I am, just like everybody else on this beast is. Even if everything my relatives told me is true, that they do not want us, that they no longer wish to welcome us with open arms, how does it matter? There is always a chance that they will let us in, however small it may be. And even the smallest of chances is a much brighter future than what awaited us had we not left. Anyway, whether you believe me or not does not matter. We’ll find out soon enough,” the stranger said, pointing.

DIIN and her father followed his finger. “What is that, Daddy?” DIIN asked, as she looked at the structure in the distance.

“That’s as far as this train will take us, child. Wake your mother. Let’s gather all our things and prepare to get off,” he answered, as his smile widened once more.

“Do you think what that OSZA said was true, brother?” CREFY’s father asked, as both families made their way through the crowded station. “Has this all been for nothing?”

“No! Of course not! We don’t know him. We don’t know if he was telling the truth. Maybe he was just trying to mess with our heads. Maybe he was bored, and was having some fun at our expense. Maybe he is a sadist. For all we know, his relatives could have lied to him. Perhaps they did not want him to come because of some familial issues. Why should we believe him? Besides, he may or may not have been telling the truth about utopia, but everything else he said rang true. There was never another choice, brother. Staying was never an option, no matter what we may have told ourselves. Utopia is the only path forward,” DIIN’s father replied.

They spent the next few days making their way from town to town, spending a few days in the friendlier ones, while quickly passing through those that they felt unwelcome in. The fathers took up whatever work they could find along the way, saving up as much of their earnings as they could.

Half the earnings were spent a week later, to buy food and water in the last town they would cross before they reached their destination. The other half were tucked away safely within various pockets and other items of clothing.

“Look!” DIIN’s father screamed, as he fell to his knees, two days after they had left the final town.

“We’re almost there!” CREFY’s father screamed.

“Thank God! Thank you for getting us here!” DIIN’s mother said, as her eyes teared up.

“Is that the magical land, Daddy?” DIIN asked, as she walked up to her father, and tried to climb on top of his shoulders.

“Yes, child. There lie the gates to utopia,” her father answered, as he bent over and kissed the ground, before lifting DIIN and putting her on his shoulders.

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