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Mari’s mother is always droning on about the renewed importance of oral tradition especially now when so much has been lost, about going back to methods old even before this world replaced the last. About capturing knowledge as if that is something tangible. Mari never gave it much credence. After all, she has to consider the source. Her mother is a slug, one badly burned by the acid rains, too slow or stupid to run. The only reason that her mother is tolerated at all is because she used to be an engineer and has been working on a way to make what water is left drinkable. Necessity over-riding nicety.

But now that Mari’s older sister Sonjia too has been injured, saving Mari from burning ground fog, for which Mari is grateful but burdened nonetheless. Mari feels the weight of caring for her family, of going to the public places, running the errands and of words she once thought hollow. Rhymes like the dirty one drifting under their front door from nearby teenagers playing a kissing game.

Who can remember
when Kingdom came?
Who can remember
the countries names?
What you remember
don’t forget!
Or swing from a tree
by your neck.
Hiss and kiss,
grin and grind.
Who can remember
when they’re blind?

Watching Sonjia tossing with fever as her body tries to fight infection, Mari sees her mothers point.

Inspired by: Though technically this is a continuation of When We Miss, it should stand alone.

Hollow: lacking in real value, sincerity, or substance : false,meaningless <hollow promises> <a victory over a weakling ishollow and without triumph — Ernest Beaglehole>