After dinner they all gathered around the boob tube to watch Greyscale Kimball give her annual Thanksgiving speech about the state of the South. “It is good,” she exclaims while the snow clears from the picture. “It is strong,” she follows. “The Heart Queen and I continually work together to make things better for all of us, including the conquered if not the vanquished.”
“I wish she wouldn’t talk like that about the North,” Lisa opines from her middle position. “Everyone knows it comes back to bite them in the ass now.”
“Lii-sa,” Bartholomew complains about what he considers a cussword in the house. But he looks around and sees no parents in the room and realizes all is okay. It’s just the kids. The parents are upstairs — doing another annual tradition while the children watch TV. Bart forgot that fact. He tries to block out the faint noise of bedsprings, which he thought was the small twittering of a bird outside before. Now he can’t get it out of his head. He moves toward the TV. “Don’t mind if I turn it up, I suppose.” Points to his ears. “Can’t hear.”
“It’s these old Sylvanias,” says Rose Wells the neighbor who they often pretend is their sister or at least sister-in-law, big for her age of 12. She’s already studying boxes, wondering what’s in the far corners of space while chewing choco chip cookies late at night on top of her house. She intuitively understands the cube, if not tangibly yet. Models would come first. Then reality. “Greyscale forbids the sale of colored TVs beyond the Line of Demarcation,” she finishes.
“The old battle line,” chips in Bart, hip to the 3 1/2 day North-South War from sex history class. Taming the elephants from the Shallows (Flats to the Northerners) was the turning point, he recalls. Just bulled right through the lines after that. He tries to focus back in on the speech…
“… Sinkology has proven, once and for all, that the Pipersville bomb was never set off. The South has nothing –”
“Hey, Rose,” he says to his faux sister beyond Lisa, having heard all this before a hundred times and getting bored.
“Shh,” she says back, still interested.
“– no one was hurt, no one was even injured. The bomb–”
“Hey. Rose,” Bart insisted. “I saw you up on the roof the other night. What are you studying? Stars?”
“– the inevitability of colored TVs to corrupt…”
“Space itself,” she decided to answer, turning away for the moment. “I’m making–”
“– and the corruption spread from town to town, region to re–”
“… a model.”
“Oh?” Bart was interested.
“Will you 2 please pipe down,” said Lisa between them. “Do you want to switch places with me, Bartholomew, so you can talk to your *real* sister?”
“Pheh, ain’t nobody claiming we aren’t yellow.” “Bird twitterings” upstairs again. Greyscale was wrapping it up.
“And so, the Queen and I bid you farewell until next year when, special surprise, the *King* will be joining us.”
All stare at the black and white TV with open mouths. Snow comes in again, hiding the exit ceremonies. Static fills the air, just in the nick of time. Mom and dad upstairs had just reached the end as well.