jueves, 17 de diciembre de 2015

War there, peace here

   The park slowly fell into disuse. First, because it was all the way up the hill, something that had been a prime feature of the place but later was seen as just a silly way to make people pay more money for just some rides that they could easily find somewhere else. The rollercoaster, the ferris wheel, the bumpers cars and all those stands where you could get food and silly prizes were still there fifty years later but in a very different state.

 The city had wanted to dismantle the park but it would have been really expensive and it wasn’t a very rich area to pay for anything that big so they decided to send a team of experts to define if the park was safe as it was or if it had to be demolished, at least partially.

 It was a team of only three people that checked every single machine and structure for a period of five days. They used special devices to help them and took pictures. They were very noticeable in town because it wasn’t a very big city and people knew each other really well. It wasn’t a secret that most people believe the park should be left alone, as it had memories for many of the inhabitants of town but also because it was a very obvious and unique feature of town to have the park overlooking them from a hill. It was something like out of a movie.

 By the end of their studies, the team agreed the park was safe and that only some parts of the rollercoaster should be either demolished or repaired in order to avoid a future collapse. What surprised everyone was that the city council did nothing with the study and decided to file everything concerning the park. As they saw it, it was a place that was out of bounds, so if something collapsed no one would be hurt. After all, a perimeter fence had been built around the park many years ago and they could still manage to electrify it in order to keep out any intruders.

 The citizens were not very happy about this, as it would mean that a portion of the city’s electricity would go to a place no one cared about anymore. Some people presented their complaints but nothing happened. So the subject was left alone for a long time and people eventually forgot about the danger the study had shown, the electrified fence and so many other details that the council had omitted about the park.

 In the period of time that followed, the park was only seen as a feature of the city, like the rest of the hills and the forest to one side and the lake to the other. It was just something that was there and that no one really cared about a lot. It was ten years later, when young people, who didn’t know anything about the park and all that had happened with it, decided to are each other to cross the fence and get into the park. No one really knows why that came up but it did.

 They weren’t surprised when the first boy started climbing the fence and wasn’t electrocuted. Inadvertently, they had been the first people to realize that the perimeter fence of the park had not been electrified in many years. Actually, it had only been like that for a few months until the city dropped it. However, the townsfolk were never notified so they still thought safety was paramount among the rulers of the town.

 The kids loved to enter the park and eventually someone brought a pair of industrial cutters and made a whole on the fence in order for everyone to come in and just play around. Important to say they were just children and young adults, the oldest been twenty-five years old. The young ones liked to go around and destroy what could be destroyed, as well as use the former walkways as places to play baseball, pee and practice their shooting with toy guns. In the summer, they changed that to water guns.

 Meanwhile, the older new visitors went all the way up there to have beer and smoke cigarettes or marihuana. There was no place in town to do any of that without someone’s parents been aware of them so it was like a gold mine when they realized no one was looking at them in the park. Many got really drunk and passed out but friends would always help the guy or girl in trouble: they would help the person eat something, vomit as much as they needed to and then help them go home and say they had been food poisoned.

 Surprisingly, parents were very slow to understand what was happening and there’s no way to blame them as the country had entered another war in a far away land and many of the sons of the town had decided to go and defend the honor of their land. The truth behind this was that unemployment was rampant, which combined by the very traditional values of the region, made for a large part of the population supporting that war and being very proud that their children were participating in it.

 When they began to be killed, pride mutated into despair and worry and the fact that kids were smoking and drinking and playing in a dangerous place, was not really an important thing in the parent’s lives. They wanted to win that war but also see their boys, and in some cases girls, come back. The first coffins arrived only five months after the war had started.

 The perpetual state of mourning and overused patriotism was the perfect veil the younger kids needed to go to the park in the hill and just get away from their parents who spent every second of their day putting flags in every corner of the house or watching TV, usually the most fanatic TV station ever.

 They’d rather be shooting their toy guns to the roller coaster’s pillars or from the lower seats in the ferris wheel. It was amazing how the ambiance changed from the town square to the hill park. In the hill everyone laughed and ran and you could always pick up some gossip from the girl that sat in the benches to talk about their schoolmates. Even pets were allowed now as kids brought their dogs and other animals for their classmates and friends to meet.

 The truth is the place had become a kind of haven for children that were ignored at home. If the parents weren’t there for them, their friends would be. Many became friends after meeting in the park and many fell in love there too, initiating many relationships that would last for years and years, although kids had no idea of this.

 Even things as forbidden as two boys kissing was normal in their little world up in the hill, no one said anything to the boys that did it because there was an unspoken agreement that no one would judge anyone for anything they did, unless it was pretty violent or just wrong. For example, a group of kids saved a girl from being raped by some guy in one of the bumper cars and they decided to form some sort of security group, telling others to be aware of their surroundings at all time.

 Life was good for those kids and teenagers. And it was just like that for some years until an accident happened, the one that eventually was set to happen: the rollercoaster collapsed and killed two children and destroyed part of the fence and toppled trees that were located down the hill. As everyone in town was able to see the tragedy, no one was able to ignore reality anymore.

 Parents grieved now for the kids they had at home and realized what the city had done to them. Lawsuits ensued and media frenzy was created, as people loved all the drama and the tragedy behind this story.

Meanwhile, kids mourned their dead too and mourned the loss of the only place they had to be themselves, to enjoy being young in a world were adults were crazy enough to praise children going to war. The ones in the park talked about the subject often and thought all their parents were insane, even if none of them had said that to them ever.

After the tragedy, the town went back to worrying about those who had left willingly to die. But kids wouldn’t take it anymore. It all started with a twelve year old grabbing all the national flags in the house, piling ALL of them and burning them at the backyard. War had come home.

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