minus one

Aged twelve, David Spencer had been ill at ease with the concept of Tracy Wilding being religious. Her life had taken the opposite path to his: As she matured, her belief in a higher power waned. As David began his journey to find himself, she was well into a life of apostasy. For much of her life, Tracy Wilding had bought into a certain type of religious lifestyle. She was the future homemaker, a good woman under Christ who would raise the children of some wealthy man, who would cater for her as required. Perhaps she would have a job, a casual one, working in an office 6 hours a day, four days a week, and caring for the children in her spare time. She would cook and clean, providing a strong moral backbone for her son and daughter. These were the things she believed in. For her, things were set in stone.

David Spencer was, of course, the inevitable downfall of this system. She was drawn to the mysterious nature of his attitude, which would ultimately grow to be what estranged them. In the early years, however, she was very much closed to the things he said. He was a year younger than her, and she made use of the hierarchy.

"God loves you, David."

"I'm sure."

They sat on an outcropping of rock overlooking the motley stretch of buildings before them. They were a paradox - nothing about them identified them as particularly disparate entities. They were architecturally from the same mold. They were from the same cultural stock. Yet, each one was different. There was nothing particularly similar about them, either. They bore the markings of a tradition but the brushstrokes of a million separate painters. The lives of people carved themselves onto the repetition. They sat on that outcropping with disturbing regularity. The houses of the suburban wasteland before them were eternally changing, and they loved to watch it slowly become burdened by the flow of nature. 

Davidsville was a ghost town.

They had branded the abandoned housing development their own. It was a byproduct of an attempt to cater to demand that never surfaced. Three houses were sold before it was determined that the construction had done something unspeakable to the geography. If the houses at Davidsville were lived in, they would sink into the ground. The grass would cease to grow. The walls would turn to hideous creatures.

That is what they told themselves would happen. In reality, they weren't sure what had happened to the suburban sprawl of Lower Wilding. Tracy had decided the coincidence between the names was too unsettling, and gave the wasteland to David. Lower Wilding faded into memory, a thousand houses abandoned for an unknown reason. The artist of the suburbs was not the owner of the house. The artist of the suburb was nature. It had begun, creeping in and controlling. Lower Wilding was built in a densely forested area, and the hallmarks of nature found their way in. Nature was destroying Lower Wilding.

For David, Lower Wilding stood for why he wasn't happy with religion. Lower Wilding was the truth of all things: there was nothing protecting the world. It would simply fracture and devolve, losing itself. It would become a broken mirror, the ideal thing it was representing being lost at a fundamental level. Humanity needed something to keep going. Tracy agreed with him - God kept the world going. David took umbrage - he saw humanity as helping itself. Not in a selfish way - He always thought helping oneself sounded arrogant - but in a careful way. The system existed not to perpetuate itself, but to perpetuate those within it. This had been Tracy Wilding's downfall. As they grew older, grew wiser, grew into unusual shapes and configurations of themselves that they had not expected, her mind overran with the myth of Davidsville. Her mind overran with the unfortunate possibility that David Spencer was right. She began to shift away from her perfect life. She began to consider prospects, careers, opportunities for her to grow. She considered her talents - she was always a very good speaker, she was told. She never quite knew what that meant, but she took the compliment with grace. She considered other options. She stared in the mirror and wondered just why she had to have long hair. She did this three times before she finally cut it short. Her mother was not impressed.

Tracy Wilding considered clothing, articulation, speech, everything that she thought she knew. By the time she was nineteen, she was giving a speech to the Feminist Society of her university. Her hair was short, her clothes were masculine and her manner was unseemly. She did not need to be this way. There was nothing that said feminism required her to be butch. She did it because she wanted to, because she enjoyed the feeling of bucking the mainstream.

David Spencer was entirely to blame.

The End

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