Prompt: You live in a world with a giant angry ball of energy that floats around in the sky. If you look at it, you go blind. If you have exposed skin, it burns. Everyone, except you, just accepts this as “normal”
The community center smelled of dust and cheap pizza, residents shuffled through the double glass doors and began forming a line around the flimsy plastic tables that held an assortment of pizzas from cheese to meat lovers to Hawaiian. The sun outside had began to set, turning the sky to a warm red.
“The community action meeting will be beginning in five minutes,” a woman’s voice said into a mic on a small stage opposite of the glass doors. “Feel free to hang your coats on the coat rack, we just installed adaptive glass.”
The people who still wore their thick fire retardant jackets formed a line besides the coat. A few more cautious people kept theirs on.
The residents began seating themselves, chatting casually about their days or neighborhood gossip.
Dorris and Emmy talked about Emmy’s new job at an upstart marketing firm. The firm’s major client had developed a fashionable fire proof jacket that seemed very promising.
Michael and Nathan discussed how the pool schedule had changed this summer after the giant fireball in the sky had adopted a new route this year for its first time in three years. No swimming between the hours of 3pm to 7pm now, which had taken an unfortunate blow on pool attendance and subsequently ice cream sales.
“If everyone will take your seats we will begin momentarily,” the woman at the stage said.
The rest of the stragglers moved towards the plastic folding chairs and took their seats.
“Thank you all for coming to the July Marigold Neighborhood community meeting,” the woman resumed once the room had settled, “for those of you who don’t know I am Becky Kiev, acting president of the board. For those of you who don’t know, elections are in August, so if like what I’m doing be sure to put my name down. If not, then that date doesn’t matter to you.”
A few mild chuckles came from the audience.
“I see a lot of new faces,” Becky continued, “well welcome I hope you enjoyed the pizza. I mean who doesn’t enjoy free pizza?”
“Anyways, tonight is out annual open floor night. Instead of the usual structure we’ll be opening the floor to you all for questions, comments, or suggestions. Myself and the board will be taking note and answer your questions. Of course anyone in the audience is allowed to chime in too if they’d like. For you new folks the board is myself along with Daniel Smith, our vice president of community engagement, would you please stand up Daniel?”
A man in the front row dressed in a white and blue striped golf shirt stood up and waved.
“Thank you Daniel. Next is Julia Frederick, she is our vice president of education, she works directly with our schools, would you stand up Julia?”
An elderly woman wearing a turquoise necklace stood up and waved.
“And last but especially not least is our vice president of protection, Anthony James. Would you please stand up Anthony?”
A man still wearing his jacket stood up and waved towards the crowd.
“Do you still have to wear that Anthony?” Becky said. “I mean it was you who installed the new adaptive glass. You’re not really inspiring the most confidence in us.”
Anthony shrugged, “I’m a cautious man.”
“And that caution is why we love you, but I think it would be best to let that caution aside for this evening to help our fellow neighbors relaxed. Is that took much to ask for?”
Anthony sighed, unzipped his coat and hung it on the back of his chair.
“Thank you Anthony,” Becky continued. “Now before we begin I’d like to go over a few community updates.” Becky pulled out her phone and reviewed her notes. “As you all know, the pool hours have changed due to an unexpected change in the fireball’s route, and unfortunately pools will now have to be closed during peak hours. Any questions?”
The room remained silent, a few members shook their heads.
“Because of that our annual luau has been postponed until further notice. Any questions on that?”
A woman raised her hand.
“Yes Hilary?” Becky pointed towards her. The woman stood up.
“Could we do it earlier in the day? My kids look forward to it every year and it’s a shame to have to cancel it. I mean the late mornings are good pool temps, we can have it from ten to two.”
“That’s a brilliant idea, could you make not of that Daniel?”
“You got it,” Daniel said.
“Next on the list are the bus stops. As y’all probably know we’ve been fundraising all school year for new protective waiting pods and I am proud to announce that we reached our fundraising goal.” Becky clapped, the rest of the room joined. “The new bus stops will no longer be those eye sores of lead and steel doomsday bunkers on every street corner and will be changed out with adaptive glass much like the windows of this building. Any questions on concerns?”
“I have one,” another woman stood up. She still bore her coat.
“I don’t recognize you, could you introduce yourself?”
“I’m Regina, I just moved here last April with my husband and my two daughters. They’ll be starting kindergarten this school year, so as you might expect their safety has been on my mind a lot lately. Are we sure this new adaptive glass is safe? I mean where I come from we’re still using the lead line walls and port holes.”
“Anthony?” Becky asked.
“Yeah,” Anthony stood up. “I understand your concern Regina, but I assure you that this is the top of the line stuff. We don’t squander on investments in this neighborhood. I work professionally in the fireball protection industry and trust me this stuff is the top of the line.”
“Then why did you wear your coat? Didn’t you say you were being cautious?” Regina asked.
Anthony smiled, “I like to give Becky here a hard time, I’m sorry if I caused you to fret. Plus the AC in here gets a little chilly for my liking so I like to keep it on during meetings. If you want more information we can talk after the meeting. How does that sound?”
“Sure,” Regina said.
“Anthony, can you please try to mess with me outside of meetings?” Becky said. “Thank you for your question Regina. That is all for our updates this meeting, before we begin does anyone have any more questions on comments?”
A man in the back raised his hand.
“Yes?” Becky asked.
The man stood up, he wore a white button down and khakis. “Is anyone as sick of the fireball as I am?”
“What do you mean?” Becky asked.
“Every fucking day we have to put up with its chaos as it flies around the sky setting fire to anything within a three hundred meter radius of it, and to be honest I’m getting pretty tired of this shit.”
“Could you watch your language sir?” Becky asked. “And could we have your name?”
“Yeah,” the man continued, “I’m Calvin Harrison, just moved here a month ago because I heard this little community had the fireball under control and I’m not getting that vibe. Why can’t we get rid of that goddamn nuisance? I mean we can build bombs that can level cities, why can’t we shoot one up into the sky and blow it to hell and back?”
“Calvin,” Becky said, “this is a neighborhood community meeting. We only focus on the things we have control of, if you want to discuss nuclear warfare I’d advise you to call your local congressperson or join the army. And if it is any condolences we do have it under control here, our neighborhood’s blind rate is only at 2%, that’s better than any community in the southern states, and we’ve only had three major fires in the past year. If you’re concerned about your safety I can assure you that you can relax here in Marigold. Do you have anything constructive to say or are you done?”
“I’m just so fed up with everything,” Calvin sat back down.
“Are you done?” Becky asked.
“Alright, well that concludes our opening portion of the meeting now let’s move on to community feedback. Daniel, would you mind taking the mic?”
Daniel stood up and walked towards the stage, Becky sat down on the audience. Calvin sat in the back the whole meeting sulking.