Exile from the Grey City

She visited the city while sleeping, and discovered that it had rearranged itself once again, like a giant Rubik’s Cube. Like a Rubik’s cube, certain central parts of the city always remained relative to each other: Thus the cathedral was always north of the university and the green glass towers that rose on spindly stilts above the central park, while the ocean always lay to the west. The train lines switched around quite a bit–they couldn’t be trusted, and while she had tried to map the stations in her waking hours, every time she returned, they had reordered themselves to some arcane algorithm and she had to learn them all over again.

Gloomily she recalled the first Rubik’s Cube she had destroyed as a child. Her father had given her one to solve, left it with her after giving it a dozen or so twists one morning, and promised her a treat if she had figured it out by the time he came home for dinner. She turned it around on itself for hours, but it only grew more disordered, not less. “Entropy,” her older brother said, watching over her shoulder.

“What’s entropy?” she asked.

He tried to explain it to her but failed, and settled for, “It’s like getting messier.”

“Oh,” she said. Messy she understood.

He took the cube from her.

“Hey!” she said. “That’s mine. Dad’ll give me a treat if I solve it.”

“You can tell him you solved it,” he said. “I won’t tell.”

“It’s not the same,” she protested.

But he fiddled with it for only five or ten minutes before getting bored and tossing it back to her. And then it was just before Daddy would come home, and she hadn’t solved it. Even if she got two or three sides fixed up, the other sides remained a mess. All he had to do was turn it round to see the messy entropy-ridden backside. No treat, and a disappointed look.

So she carefully pried up the stickers on the recalcitrant sides, and then tried to restick them on. But the stickers tore coming off or wrinkled and bubbled going back on, and it was too obvious that she had given up. It was even worse. Ashamed, she pried apart the Rubik’s Cube and buried it in pieces in the rock garden.

But you couldn’t do that with a city, and she was wary of breaking the city. Wary of forcing it into ways of being. So she never tried to make the stations stay put, even though it was a horrible inconvenience.


2 thoughts on “Exile from the Grey City

  1. Danke! That’s a good thing to remind somebody of. 🙂

    I’m trying to write every day, although what I post here might vary. I might not always follow a prompt, or I might write about what I’ve written.

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