I live in the north-west district, Bakers it’s called, near enough to the water, mid way between the river and the center of the city. I've lived here most of my life. My family was here before me. Fourside was good to them. It isn't to me. It was for a while, but sometimes life doesn't work the we hope it does. My family should be here.
It was the loss of our daughter that did it. My wife and I had moved here, into this apartment, and in no time at all we had a daughter. Our lives went on. She grew up as a marvel, and we did what we could to provide for her. She loved to colour and draw. All kids do at some point, but she stuck with it. She drew amazing pictures. Her imagination was a gift to us every day. We hung them around the house like art. Her art. She was our little artist. She grew up and went to school. My wife and I had our rough patches, but we we’re still together for the most part.
Then, one day, she didn’t come home from school. The police said she was hit by a car on her way home. It tore us apart. I couldn’t console my wife. I tried, but neither of us bonded together. While our daughter held us tight as our love, her disappearance from our lives stole our happiness. My wife left soon after. I don’t know how she’s doing now. I wish I could say that I cared like I once did. I get a letter from her every once in a while. She said she was thinking of moving to the West coast, to Onett or maybe Santa Monica. The stamp was from the town of September. I don’t write back.
Every day I wake up and go to my job. I think of my daughter, my artist. My days blur together. I miss my family. I miss my life. But most of all, i miss her.
Night here is different than other places I’m told. Buildings seem to move and the city twists into a different place. People who stay up say that if you look the right way, you can see people that couldn’t be there. I can’t remember how many nights I’ve stayed up looking for my daughter.
When I sleep my dreams are filled with her drawings. I’ve been drawing even. New pictures that come from nowhere. I’ve never been good at it, but sometimes I look down at a blank piece of paper and see something that my daughter could have drawn for me.
I don’t have much in my life anymore. I haven’t gotten anything from my wife in a long time. My time for work is over. I sleep through most days. At nights I walk through the streets, visiting places where we use to go, in better days, when she was with us and we were all together and we we’re a family. The coffee shops and the bakeries. Looking past the tops of apartment buildings, through the jungle of buildings to the seas bordering our city, out past the fogs to lands across the way. I watch the fog every evening, as it rolls in off the lake and covers the city. The fog feels cold tonight. I miss my artist.
“Where am I?”
“You’re where you came to be, more or less.”
“So this is it?”
“For you, yes. It’s our general practice to let you ask a few questions if you want to, before we get things going.”
“Why did you take my daughter?
“We don’t take people, not usually at least. Your daughter was quite exceptional though. She made quite an impression and was even selected to play the Game. She lasted six days before being erased. We’re still seeing her influence throughout the city now. She was an extraordinary girl.”
“I don’t- I don’t know what all that means.”
“All it means is that your daughter excelled had an impact. She came to us and went on to help the city. You should be proud.”
“I- I am”
“I’m glad. “
“What happens now?”
“Now? What happens now is what comes next.”