I wrote a story once about a woman who believed she was the last person alive on a devastated Earth. (Footprints From the Before -ed.) Not an original idea I know, but every writer has to purge his/her post-apocalyptic vision sooner or later. Anyway, once she comes to grips with her situation, our heroine wisely treks to what used to be Amish country and takes up residence on a farm that was already equipped to function without a power grid, refrigeration, flush toilets, or Purel dispensers every twenty feet. Years pass and our stout girl manages to eke out a self-sufficient, if lonely, existence—until the day she notices human footprints in the dust just outside her kraal. That’s where the her story really gets interesting. Now, while I’m not rooting for the apocalypse, I am beginning to scout a new place to live. A place beyond the reach of American Idol and all its insipid clones. A place where all politicians are mute without me having to press a button. A place where the price of gasoline is inconsequential.
‘So go find yourself a mountaintop,’ you tell me.
Well, fair enough. But how high will I have to climb to out-scale the rip of chainsaws, and the roar of strip mining equipment? They don’t make mountains that high anymore. Am I the only one who can’t hear the difference between America’s Got Talent, and the incessant whoop of ambulance sirens? They both indicate a sickness to me. When was it decreed that life has to be so freakin’ noisy?
I ask myself if I could actually live alone like the heroine in my story. I don’t think so.
Mostly because I don’t have the mechanical or survival skills it would require. And anyway, I have no desire to displace a perfectly competent Amish family from its hard-earned, simple home.
Still, when I dream about being that lone woman, I always come back to that moment when she comes across those alien human footprints, and it all comes rushing back to her with a crystalline clarity. See, a person is a just a person. But people is a whole other animal. People is complicated. And given time, people is noisy.
If you don’t believe me, you must be Amish… and live on a mountaintop.
ABOUT LEE ALLEN HILL
STORIES BY LEE ALLEN HILL
POEMS BY LEE ALLEN HILL
ESSAYS BY LEE ALLEN HILL