• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 11
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An Instrument of Salvation

We're still here because of the aquifer. Whoever wakes first sings to the water and waits for it to sing back. I woke first, just now, and as I was singing and holding up a palmful of water, as I dunked my head and drank and breathed in, as the water filled my belly and the oxygen filled my lungs, my forehead knocked against this.

My fingers recognised the mask and the tank (we used to have our own) but they had trouble identifying the rest. I thought there was a collar bone, a pair of breasts, an arm, a hand. But I thought I was inventing things. It’s been so long.

I took it back to the others and we passed it around. There were many suggestions (you’d think, having developed gills, we might have developed night-sight by now but we haven’t). Others agreed about the arm and the hand. Some talked about hats they remembered. Some about curtains. Things we knew before we lived down here, in the tunnel.

Milandra, who was the last to speak, said it was a sign. Said we should listen more. Said the time was coming when we’d hear what we’d been longing to hear ever since the disaster. Said it was an instrument of our salvation.

And we believed her. Because we had to.