Sunday, September 23, 2012

City of Tomorrow, Part 5

One day I went to church.

I’m not here to advocate religion, or tell you what I think about it, so simply accept that statement as it stands.  I went to church.

The pew in front of me, and more specifically the space directly in front of me, was empty up until a few moments before the service began.  A family quickly scampered to fill it.  The individual who ended up in front of me was a young woman.

Now, you ought to know that modesty is supposed to be one of the virtues of attending church.  Modesty, however, was not one of the virtues of this young woman.  She wore a tube top that exposed her bra straps, and every time she bent over even in the slighted degree, the bottom of the bra could be seen.

I think it goes without saying that this was in the recent past.  In the more distant past, I’d like to believe that this would never have happened.

Let me also reassure you at this point that I am not a dirty old man.  I relate this young woman’s attire not because I went to church looking for something like that, but because it happened, and who she was.  You may not believe it, but her name was Celeste Montano.

I know what you’re thinking, but the tattoo on the back of her shoulder made it clear enough.  It in fact proclaimed “Celeste Montano.”

The Montanos were the last of the founders, several generations removed.  They were a beacon of the immigration drive that still represents Metropolis.  We’ll accept anyone here, even though in many ways we’ve become just another big city.  We cling to our ancient ambitions and ideals, but sometimes it’s hard to see how the City of Tomorrow hasn’t joined the rest of the corrupted modern age, slipping into ambiguity.

Celeste was famously orphaned at a young age, which makes the rumors about her and her child all the more ironic.  She was holding and trading off an infant throughout the service, with relatives or friends, I don’t know.  The infant is said to be another orphan, and if you can believe it.

If Celeste comes from the last founders, that infant is said to derive from the first.  Strange circles of fate.

The service continued for close to an hour, as it usually does.  The whole time, I wasn’t thinking about the infant, but it was excuse enough to distract my attention toward that tattoo.  Was it really Celeste Montano, or just someone who found a new trend?

The thing is, the young woman kept looking over her shoulder.  Maybe it’s a common fallacy, to assume that because you’re thinking it and they’re doing it, that the person constantly turning their head like that is giving you the view that you want, helping guide the visual conversation, just as aware as you are in your obsessive thoughts that the action is necessary.

It was her.  It was Celeste Montano.  She’s the girl all the boys in school are infatuated with; forget all the pop princesses and swimsuit models.  In this town, they all pine for Celeste Montano.  How was I to know, a wrinkled old man, that I would sit behind her in a church service?

She’s a part of this narrative because of the infant, however.  Everything in the City of Tomorrow points toward the future.  The founders pointed toward a man who could fly, who came to Metropolis a different kind of orphan, an alien.  In a way, every citizen here is an alien, even if some of them are reluctant to admit it.  Celeste Montano was an alien in that service, and she playfully juggled an orphan that some of us had been waiting for all our lives.

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