the pures

by rachel yong

"It's funny, isn't it?" Barb spoke and her voice fogged the glass.


"Just look down."

Jimmy peeled his eyes away from the distance in front of them and looked off to the side. Below them stretched metes of dry prairie fields and forested hills, alternating patches of green and yellow.

"That's it, right there. The Line. All this mess over something you can't even see. It's invisible. It's completely imaginary."

"Yeah." Jimmy smiled, adjusting his hand on the controls. "Completely."

"It can't be that hard to undo then, right?" She smiled at him, knowing her words were the words of a child. She reached over and grabbed his hand. It was warm.

Sandy stood arched over the table in candlelight. The table was a slab of cold gray stone propped against the cavern wall. She held the child in her arms as he giggled and cooed. She rocked him by nature.

"Can you write it a little less cursive-y?" She asked.

Jakob looked up at her, annoyance in his eyes.

"People have to be able to read it, Jakob," she insisted. She shifted her bundle from one arm to the other. "Kingsley, can you hold him?"

The big man shuffled over to take the baby in his arms. "Thanks." He nodded in assent and walked away, gently rocking the tiny bundle of cotton.

Sandy blew lightly on the sheaf of paper so it would dry. "Nice." She held it up to the light. It read DIGGER NEWS across the top. Below it, Jakob's thin, straight handwriting outlined THE WAR, followed by ENDING SNEER HATRED, and in its own section, a headline on THE TRUTH ABOUT PORTSBY. Sandy smiled.

Mardeth's booming voice sounded. "We have visitors."

Sandy looked around. They hadn't had visitors since leaving P.P.'s compound.

Mardeth grinned. "I'll ready the gate."

Before Sandy could process what was happening, Williams was in their cave, walking down the ramp with arms open wide. As tears of happiness streamed down her face, she somehow missed the moment he took the baby into his arms. When he reached her, there was just enough room for the both of them.

"I thought you'd never come back."

Williams gripped her tightly.

"I was worried if I left…"

"Yeah, that it would make it hard to find you?"

She nodded.

"Well it did." He grinned. "Come on I'm a trained tracker. I did alright. Besides," he nodded towards the cave entrance, "P.P. just straight up told me where you were. I think he likes you." The two smiled and stayed wrapped in each other. After several moments, Williams nudged her with his chin. "Hey."

Sandy became aware of a change in mood around them. She looked up. Everyone was watching, not them, but two others. A black man and red-haired woman stood near the entrance, shy.

"Guys, come on in," Williams gestured to them. "You're safe, and welcome here."

Judy and Solomon took two slow steps down the dirt ramp, as though they were floating a few feet off the ground. Tears shone in both their eyes as they met the faces of the men and women around them. Faces covered in dirt, and bodies just the same, but faces and bodies the likes of which they'd never seen before. And together, they saw the baby. Arms wrapped around each other, they saw the baby, and together, they were transported back to the church where they'd sat so long waiting for the other in rows of blues, reds, and greens, basking in that utter sanctity. There in that moment they witnessed their first baby, they re-shared their first Panel, their first kiss, their first crossing of the Divide. They shared everything then.

"He's beautiful," Judy said, finally.

Sandy looked up at her, beaming, and then gasped.

Barb was standing there, at the entrance, where not so long ago, they'd both stood, wearing mini-skirts.

With a lifetime of care, Sandy lowered the baby into Judy's arms and then ran bounding into her best friend's embrace.

"Holy shit, is this real life right now?" Sandy squealed.

Barb laughed and squeezed her back. "Yeah, I think it is."


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