What happens to them?
Chapter Three -
"I used to ride home on a bus. Long, yellow, two-person seats on each
side of a center aisle. Thirteen seats deep. And the bus driver would
yell at the kids. And the kids would only pay attention to the bus
driver if she stopped the bus, or if they wanted her to change the
radio station. Probably the most thankless job ever; you don't get to
talk with the kids like a teacher, you don't get to see them succeed,
you just see the worst of them while they're eager to get home,
chatting with their friends, complaining about homework and their
teenage problems. It'd be tough to be a bus driver.
"Then we'd get off the bus, and the stoners would hang around and smoke
cigarettes, and I'd walk home, and maybe I'd talk with the two or three
people I knew who got off at the same stop as me, and then I'd be home.
"And I always wanted to get home. When you got up in the morning, you
didn't want to get out of bed. When you were in the first period or two
of the day, you'd be sleepy, and wish you could go home and go back to
bed. Later, you were bored and hungry, and wanted to get home to eat
and play video games. Then there was lunch, when you got together with
your friends and ate and complained about not being at home. And then
the end of the day, when you're giddy from having eaten, and anxious to
"But then you got home. And either your parents were there, so they started giving you things to do, or they weren't, so you did homework or lazed around. Not very fulfilling.
"I've thought about it. I've had a lot of time and not much to do, as you know, except think, so I thought about it. I always wondered why we were so anxious to get home. Since we never did anything more exciting there than at school, I never saw its allure. I still wanted to get home, of course, but I wondered why.
"I guess it must be a security thing. You always stayed home when you were young. And you were safe. And you didn't have to worry. And you didn't have to do things. Or strive, or achieve, or do homework, or think about your future, you just had to look cute and everyone was happy. Smile and laugh and maybe suck on your thumb, and everyone's mesmerized.
"Whatever teenagers say, I think that's really all they want. They want to be back, sucking on their moms' tits, having no responsibilities, just being able to do whatever they want. And I'm sure they'll agree with me.
"The problem is, our society doesn't let people just do what they want.
"So that's my new question.
"What keeps us from obeying our Id more closely? Even my superego rebelled against the idiotic "virtues" that they try to force into you in school. I saw no merit to it, and I see very little in it now. The real advantage, it seems to me, is that for the purposes of being philanthropic, as everyone tried to be those days, it's much easier to group people into large categories and stereotypes, and not worry about whether you're actually helping them, just whether you appear to be.
"So noone was really philanthropic enough to try and solve that. They just wanted people to think they were nice."
The old man sighed. Daryl sure had grown since they'd last talked. The curiosity had left him. He didn't watch intent with excitement, just with politeness. But the old man smiled. At least this one still listened. And it looked like he'd had a pretty woman with him. "You're a great guy, stopping by to see an old man. Letting him tell you his boring old stories. I know it's a busy new world out there."
Daryl smiled back, in the same, sighing manner.
"I'm not an angel. Just paying respects to an old friend."
"I appreciate it." The old man sighed and went to sleep. Daryl wondered how he could do it so fast for a moment, then stood up, shaking off the slight discomfort that came with those lame hospital chairs. Turning to leave the room, Daryl stopped to look back over his shoulder, and wink at the guy.
"Good night, Reed."
"Who was that, anyway?" Asked Miho, as they walked back to the small ship they'd come to Mars in.
"Just an old friend." said Daryl dismissively, reaching into his jacket.
"It's good of you to stop and see him," Miho noted, looking back at the hospital.
"I'm not an angel. He's just a friend. He needs someone to talk to." The rose had begun to wilt. Just slightly around the edges of the petals, but his senstitive fingers noticed it.
Then why get so defensive? Miho thought. Not that she thought she'd ever get any real emotion out of him. Besides, he was fingering his rose again. Whatever that meant.