June 4, 2031
The alarm on Starlet’s phone goes off. She rolls over to look at it. 3:45 in the morning on June fourth. The day her life is going to change forever. She picks her phone up and scrolls through the missed calls. Seven from Eric, just from the night before. Looking at the signal strength, she sees there is one bar. Maybe enough to make a call. She hits the dial button, but there is no tone. Just a three beep indicator that lets her know her call can not go through. Starlet looks at the signal again and sees that the bar has disappeared. There is lousy reception up in the North Woods. Sometimes she can get a couple bars if she climbs a tree and stretches her arm up really high, but one time an owl absconded with it, thinking it was a mouse or something, and now the owl is probably making calls to his friends in Canada. Owls can probably get good reception, especially because they’re high up in a tree most of the time. She hopes a hawk has stolen it from the owl, and the owl got a taste of his own medicine. She wonders why she even got a cell phone in the first place. And also, why she didn’t get a land line. She never really has anyone to call, but texts once in a while with Eric. He usually gets her message days later, and by the time she gets a response back, sometimes three weeks have gone by. She’s curious why he called her so many times last night. She hopes everything is all right. He’s probably fine. He’s probably out there with the rest of the Topplers in Sunny Springs, making shit happen.
She goes outside and lights herself a cigarette. She feels the warm smoke filling her lungs, and remembers back to the time when cigarettes almost fell out of fashion. Everyone was puffing on those stupid electronic things. Vaping, they called it. The only reason they did that, she thinks, is so they could smoke indoors. Those were originally invented for smokers to kick the nicotine habit, not to start one. She’s glad those fell out of fashion and real smokes made a comeback, because this is nice.
She goes back inside and sits at her desk. Picking up a pen, she writes a letter to her boss.
Dear Framp, she writes. I am sorry to inform you that I will not be making it in today. I know that it means there is no one there to open up the store, but I can’t worry about that right now. I have an appointment with a wall today at noon. I probably could have come in this morning, but I don’t have it in me to stand at a cash register and ring people up for Cokes and camping supplies. Somehow, it just seems frivolous. I don’t know when, or even if, I’ll be returning, so if you need to find another person to fill my position, I totally understand. You can just mail me my last paycheck. Again, I am very very sorry. It has been a pleasure working for you. You are the coolest boss ever.
Best of luck,
She wonders if that’s good enough, maybe she should include more words or something. But in reality, she could give a fuck less. She’ll have to go to the store early and slip the note under the front door, but that’s one of the reasons she woke up so early in the first place. She wants to avoid any sort of confrontation. There will be plenty of confrontation later on at the wall.
She gets in her car, not bothering to shower, and heads to the store. The streets are so dead. Of course, it’s only 4:30 in the morning, but normally there would be at least a little traffic; lumberjacks headed to work and so forth. This used to be this a fairly booming town, for being in the middle of nowhere. The population was much bigger, home to Gagnons and Gauthiers and Belangers and Gallants, Gagnes and Lavoies and Fortins, Fourniers and Cloutiers, Leclercs and Greniers, Bedards and Lapointes, Ouelletts and Beaulieus, Pouriers and Poulins, Blouins, Simards and Desjardins. The names are still fairly prevalent around these parts, but most of the older Canadians, the ones who did all the work, the ones who weren’t born in the United States, have been transfered back across the border. In turn, Northern Maine has lost a lot of its work force.
Now is probably not the time to be leaving the store, since it’s one of the few stores open, and it’s hopefully going to be busy with everyone stopping by to pick up some last minute supplies, and no one but Framp and his idiot son to run it. But this is not the time to be thinking of this crap. She doesn’t know if anyone will be there to open the store, and although she does feel bad, she doesn’t care enough to not slide the note under the door. Sorry Framp.
The streets are extra quiet. She hopes that later on, they won’t be. Her hopes are that they will be packed with caravans of protesters and Topplers, headed to the wall. It’s the second day of Toppling, and her first day up there. She wanted to see how day one went before she got up there. She thinks back to last night and the local news coverage that took place.
“Well, Jim, today is day one of the Topplers’ destruction of the wall, and I’ll tell you, they’re doing a bang-up job. Pun fully intended, of course. We take you now to Chaz Mufflebeard, who is live at the wall in Frenchville. Chaz?”
“Thanks Marcia. As you can see, literally dozens of protesters are out here chipping away.”
Chaz was right. There were about two dozen people out there. Two dozen! At this rate, they’d have the wall down in approximately thirty-eight years.
“The wall is sure coming down fast. At this rate, I expect they’ll have the job done in just a few short days. I can barely hear myself think over the cacophony of machinery, as well as all the screaming and yelling going on.”
The closest thing they had to machinery as far as Starlet could see was a twelve-volt Sawzall, which sounded like it was dying a slow, painful death. And the only screaming and yelling that she heard was when one guy shouted, “Hey Chaz, would you mind getting the fuck out of the way?”
Chaz laughed this off. “Well, you never know what you’re going to hear on live television.” He ducked as an invisible piece of something nearly hit his head. He reached down toward the ground and held up a lone wood chip, terror in his eyes. “My God,” he said. “I could have been killed. Well, this is what you get when you put your life on the line to be in the thick of things. I should ask for a raise or something, heh heh. Thanks for saving my life!” he shouted to the asshole who asked him to move.
“As you can see, Marcia, the men and women here are very brave.”
“Chaz, it looks like at this time, there are no government authorities, am I right on that?”
“Yes, Marcia. You are correct. No authorities at this time. However,” he knocked on the wall, “I’ll knock on wood on that one. I don’t think they’ll be long in coming- OUCHMYEYE!”
“Chaz, what happened? Is everybody okay?”
“Yes, Marcia, everyone is fine. I just got a splinter in my eye. These are the dangers you subject yourself to when you want to be a field reporter. I suppose that’s all for now. SOMEBODY GET ME SOME ICE!”
Starlet stared, incredulous. She wasn’t sure if ice would be helpful for a splinter in the eye.
She had been shocked at such a low turnout. Frenchville literally had dozens of residents, and where were they all yesterday? Plus, with easy access to the border, she would have thought that the wall would be packed with folks who traveled hundreds of miles to be a part of history. At first she thought that there wouldn’t be as many Topplers as predicted, but when she turned to the national news, she saw that there were so many in other areas that riots had broken out. People were getting killed.
People were getting killed? For a brief second she almost changed her mind. She supposed she hadn’t fully thought about what this would entail. Maybe she was naive for thinking that they would all be left alone to destroy the wall. Maybe she thought there would be some arrests, but that it would mostly be quiet. She had no idea that the military would be out there, told to shoot to kill. So yeah, she almost changed her mind. But what else was she going to do? Chances are, they would leave those in Northern Maine alone, because of the lack of population. Most of the troops seemed to be focused on the Mexican border, so maybe they would be okay.
Okay, yes, but not very effective in their job. They need better tools. She scours the basement for anything that she can pack that would be better suited to wall-breaking. One would think that they would have all the tools that they needed up there for breaking down wooden barriers, being mostly woodsmen, like chainsaws and backhoes and bulldozers, and maybe they do, but from what the camera showed yesterday, they were all ill-prepared.
She doesn’t have much in her basement. Some chisels and hammers and an old handheld egg beater. She doubts any portions of the wall are made of eggs, but she decides to pack it just in case. At the very least, she can whip them up a souffle or something. She curses the fact that she’s so girly. Since she lives by herself, she should have some power tools in case something breaks. But nope. Resigned that she was going to be no great help tool-wise, she takes another sip of her coke-coffee concoction and figures it’s time to head up. (Yes, she is back on the coffee. Lately she has been adding cocaine to the grounds for that extra boost that she so desperately needs first thing in the morning.)
She takes her sweet time getting there, even though she’s cranked out on cocaine. She’s able to keep enough wits about her to know that if she speeds, she’ll most likely get pulled over, and this time she may get more than just a ticket. They need her at the wall. At the very least, she’ll be one more person. But she’s hoping today there will be a lot more than just one more person.
The lack of traffic makes her once again think back to the lost souls that were the French people of Frenchville. She sheds a tear for the Thibeaults and Thibodeaus, the Arsenaults and Audettes, the Lamberts, Legeres, Letourneaus, Lerouxs, the Picards, Paradises, and Perreaults, the Robichauds, the Robineaus, the Rossignols, the Messiers, the Mayeuxs, the Merciers, Moriers, Michauxs, Morreaus…
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