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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
Pictures of the Floating World

"Like the soil underfoot we are everywhere, and we endure. Governments are ephemeral, they rise, fall, and return to the soil. The way we endure is by staying out of politics." Sam swears it used to be something better, bigger. The rebels are Tauron; the despots are Tauron too. "This is home now. This is where your family is. Your obsession with the old world is a distraction." He offers Sam his ring, to kiss goodbye, and tells him to drop it.

The old dream of a war, won, in a place that only exists in Sam's head. The old world, where he was happy and he had no scars and he didn't wake up terrified; the old world, before he got so used to killing. The dream of every fundamentalist is to return to a fantasy world where nothing is complicated and everything is safe, just the way we want it. The lie of the fundamentalist is that this older, finer world ever existed. It floats atop the everyday complexity, the scars and the patched places, like the fear in every time of change: A picture of a better place, when our innocence was reproduced on the world out there. Where the terrifying shadows that we hide inside ourselves are eradicated from the world before our eyes. Shining, white, like a fresh sheet of paper. Human psychology is based on projection.

"Almighty God, creator and destroyer, Whose love binds us in an eternal embrace," Clarice prays. Olaf holds Mar-Beth, in her birthing pool; the children watch from the banisters, behind. The wives and husbands nod, and watch her closely as she moans and sweats. "Today we ask You to welcome a new life to Your bosom, as we welcome it to ours."

Evelyn sits closer to Joe, while elsewhere Clarice prays; Ruth and Willie are at Shannon's aunt's for the night. "To nurture and protect this seedling, so that it may grow roots in the most stony of soils, and bear lush fruit." She takes his face in her hands; they come from the same soil. A man needs something. We are all treelike trees, borne of generative algorithms; it's just the code that changes. Every time.

Sam's marriage dies around him; he stares at their parents, an orphan in the night. "And thereby remind us that though our lives may be hard, as when we struggle to accept the sadness that is one part our lot, so too do we embrace the joy." Joseph and Evelyn make love, hungrily. A man needs something. "For every ending brings a new beginning, as surely as spring follows winter."

Daniel solders his band back together, to find the floating world once again. "And thus in the face of adversity we are heartened to renew our spirit, and reclaim our cause." Mar-Beth cries out, and Evelyn cries out; Joseph weeps against her breast. "For Yours is the power and the glory, O God," Clarice says, as her newest child is finally born. "And Your love that consecrates us all."

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