• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 10

Playground under Plastic

“They looked like this,” Joost said, and set another dusty toy car on top of the pile that balanced precariously on the naked stump.

“No, they didn’t,” Brandon shot back, fighting the need to knock the dented, peeling toys into the dirt. “They were green, and soft. That’s what mom said.”

Joost blew hot air through his lips, it made a tiny, high-pitched whine that bounced around the playground. “Yeah, they were green, and not made out of cars,” Joost said, after inhaling slowly, like an adult with stress in his veins. “Don’t be an idiot. But they looked like that. The shape, I mean.”

The sun was beginning to crest the far hills, a sure sign that the kids would be pulled back underground. Even in their carefully constructed dome, where air conditioners clung to metal beams and super-cooled oxygen thundered down on the dozen or so kids who played in the hard dirt below. A few stumps and rocks were arranged in artful ways. There was a playground structure made of UV-resistant plastics, though even that would melt if the air conditioners weren’t carefully turned on and off throughout the heat of the day. A few kids hid underneath it, whispering and darting appraising looks at Joost’s totem of cars.

“I wish I had seen one,” Brandon said finally, looking at Joost through a billow of raggedly home-cut hair. Joost nodded, pulling his little brother into a quiet hug that ended as the other kids began to wander towards the thin edges of the dome, noses pressed against the clear film.


Playground under Plastic

“Trees were beautiful,” Joost whispered into the recycled air that poured down on top of the clustered kids—dusty hands pushed against their protective prison as they watched the sun, wrapped in solar flares like candy floss, make its way into the sky.