P5 prepared P6 after bed. Change the diaper, feed the proper amount of rationed food. P6 was to be given to P4 when P5 left for contribution. It was a routine they followed every day. They each had their assigned role, no one remembers who assigned them but it was never questioned. They were all cogs in a wheel.
The unit gathered, they weren’t to be called families as that gave way to labels and identification. They weren’t Grandmother, Mother, Father, Son and Son’s Daughter. Those labels were eliminated a few generations ago. They weren’t He, She any longer. They were People. And they didn’t have names because names were often something that were used to create uniqueness and that wasn’t permitted. Uniqueness created division.
Everyone was identified by Person and then their ranking within their unit. Some said even the use of numbers created an unfair hierarchic but no one had come up with an alternative. At least no one that made the decisions.
The unit gathered for their morning routine. There was some whispered conversation that times would be getting even tougher and P5 was told to make an extra trip to the market with their remaining food tokens before food stocks ran out.
As P5 stepped out of the industrial grey building in the soft, sea foam green jump suit, P5 saw the others. They were all wearing the same green jump suit. They were all on their way to their assigned contributions. They all walked under the glow of six tall pillars.
The 6 Pillars were ever present. They were always illuminated with the same green of the jumpsuits. It was a color that was chosen for it’s neutrality and it’s calming effect.
There was no hiding from the light. It seeped in to color the grey walls of the grey buildings that all looked alike. Differences created inequality and inequality created division.
The light doused the grey streets where everyone walked and no one road in motorized cars any more. No one, that is, but the anonymous People that ran things. They were anonymous to protect People from the inequity of their roles.
P5 walked on, nearly reaching the market, wrapped up in the mundane and monotonous details of every same day.
And then something happened. There was a flicker. The color of the world changed briefly. And then the sea foam green tint that saturated everything it touched disappeared.
P5 looked up at the 6 Pillars. They were dark. There was no light emanating from them at all.
And then he had a thought. He had an idea. These were strange and new sensations. He had a feeling and an emotion. And then he began to run. P5 ran back to the industrial grey building that was where he slept every night and ate his controlled meals. He ran to his daughter who was just 18 months old. He ran to his mother and his father and to his grandmother.
He ran to them and he knew one thing. They had to escape and they had to do it now.
Meeting his father half way from contributions, they rushed into the room together. Grandmother and Mother had already prepared a few things and gathered his baby girl.
Daughter in hand, he ran to the window on the far side of the room. It wasn’t blocked but the image on the other side was never clear and it didn’t produce a lot of light. But something told him that THIS was the exit.
Father took a chair and slammed it into the window. A small crack formed. Again, and again. Until finally the window broke.
As everyone gathered to look outside, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
Just 500 feet away they saw a bright red tractor and a man in a yellow shirt and blue overalls. They saw a field with beautiful flowers. Up the road they saw more men, women and children. They saw more color and more of everything. It was a whole new world. It was a world of color and differences. A world of freedom.
They carefully climbed out of their window and looked back. They saw others doing the same along the length of the building.
They finally had freedom.
Photo and story ©️Nicole Bandes – All rights reserved.⠀
I hope you enjoyed my little story. I believe all places hold many forgotten stories. This is just one of the many possibilities. This particular story is the result of a real dream I had. I have been looking for just the right building to put with it and I felt this one was perfect.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
And they also hold real histories. Not all of the histories are known, but many are. And I hope to also share those whenever possible.
Vine Street Workhouse Castle was built in the 1890’s to replace an existing workhouse. It was meant to be a place of reformation but sank into corruption. The workhouse was officially closed in 1927 and the building served many purposes over the next several decades.
In 2014, Daniel Edwards sought to revitalize the building that had stood abandoned for more than 50 years. It is, as of 2021, still caught up in red tape and politics.
African American Heritage Trail “Vine Street Workhouse”
Abandoned Spaces “The Fascinating Kansas City Workhouse Castle” by Kelly Ludwig
This story was crafted from one of the many strange dreams I have on a regular basis. It fit the nature of this particular building.
Located on Big Alamance Creek, this mill was once a thriving textile mill in Bellemont, NC. You can read more about it’s history here.