"There she is, my girl.
Three floors and a whole mess of people.
Walls all over the place.
A refrigerator in every room.
In a word, purgatory."
We rarely entered the building, but my father talked about it often and showed me pictures from time to time. Whenever mother was around, he hid the pictures, as she assailed him for believing in myths and legends. She died when I was twelve and then dad opened a whole new page in our lives. We became explorers of the old ways, the legends of the past and the possibilities of discovery. In between waiting on bread lines and watching the lemur shows we would go into the ruins of the old cities and spend days seeking answers.
"Look, over there, my girl!
That is the front windshield of a Toyota!
They were once the kings of American muscle cars.
I need to take a closer look at that!"
I was never that interested in the pieces of the old vehicles they called "cars," but dad sure was. I was more interested in contents of buildings and details of how these people lived. They used these cars only to desert their families and go after the things that destroyed them. Those things were known as dreams and apparently they were destructive to family life amongst the old ones. Dad never talked much about that aspect of the ancient societies. He was more interested in the way they built things and what they built them for. The grand palaces known as the apartment complex were his chief obsession.
"The people who owned the apartment complexes had many servants.
They built separate quarters for them and their families.
It was like living in a shoebox.
They had no recreation unless their benefactor was wealthy.
Then they might have a pool of water to swim in or a room filled with puzzles and games.
It was most intriguing. Dad had a lot to say. Then again he had been probing the mysteries of the apartment complex for decades. He unearthed and collected some of the small items the apartment unit dwellers owned. They had pictures of family, small plastic disks and magazines with naked women in them doing terrible things. Their lives were obviously very hollow, and it showed in their possessions. The fact that only the masters of the apartment complex owned the much sought after Toyotas proved that the servants of the complex were kept down by only being able to admire and desire the master's Toyota. It was obviously a very tragic time in human history.
"They dreamed of dying, these servants did."
Father proved his point by showing me two ancient letters he had found amongst the ruins. They were brief documents detailing a person's plan to take his own life and why he was doing it. The reasons seemed to center on dissatisfaction and feelings of worthlessness. They wanted their friends and family to go on and feel no guilt or shame and they detailed the distribution of their paltry possessions. This information made me feel uneasy about these ancient people. We had found two such letters but we were sure there were thousands more that had been destroyed by the ravages of time. These were a desperate and helpless people with little to live for. Only the masters lived in the glow of perceived success and happiness and they did so only through the acquisition of possessions. Their possessions were just much more plentiful and ornate than those of their servants.
"Continue my work after I am gone, my daughter.
For the truth of these people must one day be known.
Archaeologists are never wrong."