(Content warning: This story has some pretty heavy themes and swearing in it, but hey, if you made it through the last 4 parts, you’ll be fine with this one -Max)

*No one is entirely sure how old Ewa is, not even Ewa, we estimate she is about 15. Her parents died in the war when she was still young. She has no memory of the old world. She joined our community a few years back when the people she was travelling with left her with us, she asked if she could be a part of my project, I assured her that her story was just as important as anyone else’s.
This is Ewa story, told verbatim*

Thing that really strikes me about all these tapes you have, and well, the way all you adults talk, you complain a lot.

Like a lot a lot!

Don’t get me wrong you all had it rough, but Jesus, so what?

You all complain about the lives that you lost and how the world that you knew is gone, but I don’t know, man, from the sounds of it, you all didn’t lose that much. The old world sounded depressing as shit. What is there really to miss?

The way I see it, you all got a fresh start, well radioactive wasteland fresh start, but fresh start nonetheless.

You are all living in the past and I have a feeling none of you even realise it. So let me ask you a question

*ok*

How many of your recordings lament losing the old world?

*All of them, I tell her*

Ok. And how many of them complain about the new world?

*I struggle to give her an answer*

Exactly my point. You all think that what you are upset about is the fact the old world is gone, that somehow this world is unlivable. But from everything I have heard there is no way this world is worse than the old one.

Do you know what I think? I think you are all projecting.

All of you sounded miserable back then and even though the old world died your hang ups lived on.

Look around you, man.

*she insists both myself and the recorder be moved to the window*

Look at this community. Look how busy everyone is, look at the life literally growing in that garden, look how everything is always under construction, even after a project is finished. Look at the colour on these buildings, the bright paint on everything. Look at the fire pit, that thing is always alight or smouldering, the seats and stools around it are worn out, how many nights of laughter have we all had around that fire?

This…THIS is the new world.

There is love here, there is community here, we wake up every day and we are free and the world is unexplored, and so what if it is dangerous? We survived nuclear fucking war, what the hell do we have to fear anymore?

I saw a bunch of kids playing with a giant snake the other day, all of them were cautious but utterly fearless, they giggled, they had fun and all of them came home safe.

That’s what all you old survivor’s don’t understand yet. You guys got caught unprepared for catastrophe, the society you lived in never imagined an end was possible, and because you believed that, you never got over the shock of it happening. I see you guys, all of you, up here each night drinking and complaining.

Did you ever notice that all the drunks in this community are old people?

Ever notice who isn’t drinking? All the people like me. Ever wonder why that is? Because we all grew up after the war, we grew up in the new world and we don’t live in fear that the world might end, we are ready for it. We were born survivors and survival is all we know. We aren’t scared of anything because we are ready for everything.

And if it sounds like I am angry it’s because I am. You fuckers are so hung up on the past that you refuse to make yourselves a future.

I’m sorry horrible things happened to you, I really am. But you can’t let it control your life anymore.

It’s in our nature to fight. Every book I have read about the old world seems to be about that in one way or another. The whole history of the world is about people fighting over things, either wars or politics, or monarchies, or whatever. It’s always fighting. It seems to me that this is something that has always existed.

And perhaps always will. Maybe we can’t stop the fighting, but maybe we can channel it.

I might be wrong on this but it feels like all the fighting in the world is about possession, someone wants something someone else has, so they fight them for it.

But what if neither of you wanted it? Maybe that’s the real fight. Not over some physical ownership of something but your emotions towards it. What if it doesn’t have to be yours? What if it doesn’t have to be anyone’s? Why can’t that possession just be free of possession altogether. What is there left to fight over then?

You need to stop worrying about the world you lost and start worrying about the one you need to create.

You don’t need to shield us from the horror, we have seen it all, we remember the early days just as well as you do. We grew up in the violence and chaos, and maybe when we get older we will all be a mess like you. All of us are created from the old world in one way or another, the choice is what world are we going to leave to the children of the new world?

Are we going to make the same mistakes and end up in the same place we did before? Or are we going to finally learn the lesson that all of history has been trying to teach us?

I read something in one of the old books I found, a character made a funny remark, she said “when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

That’s funny. I like that.

It’s also very true. The old world was ruled by violence or at least the threat of violence. Ancient Assyrians were flaying people alive in ancient times and 10,000 years later the whole world was destroyed in nuclear fire. And not one fucking lesson was learned.

Are we ready to learn it now?

It’s crazy that you guys try to shelter us from the reality of the world, when we are the only one’s who see it for what it really is, while you all hide and try and barricade yourselves from it.

Look, here’s the deal…

We don’t know how we need to change yet, we don’t know what the answers to all these problems will be.

But I can tell you one thing.

This is the only world we got.

And there is no way on Earth, that we will ever let fear destroy it again.

Fear died with the old world, my friend, and it has no place in our future.

*End of recording*

*Ewa then asked for some water, she drank the whole glass quickly, then tapped her hands on the bar before telling me to get back to work. She put her hat back on and went to chop wood for the night’s fire*

Max Black
July 2020

If you enjoy my writing, please considering heading to the donations page and dropping me a dollar to help support my work. But please don’t feel compelled, these are trying times for everyone, and I am not interested in dollars that would be missed.

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