Chapter Two


My name is María Castillo. I live in a Christian orphanage in San Martín, Argentina and I am one of the last surviving Synthiens.

I came to Earth when I was around four years old. There were nine other children of different ages, as well as 6 adults with me. The ship we travelled here on was cone shaped with a flat floor and arching roof that met in a point at the front of the ship and it saved our lives.

We were separated a year after we landed on Earth and although it has been nearly nine years and I don’t remember much of my home I will never forget what the savages who attacked us did to my race. The other children’s faces and names still float around in my mind but I don’t know if I could recognize them now. Not that it would matter, we have all changed our appearance and names many times since then. I remember landing on Earth, the rumble of our ship’s engines as the water propelling it came to a final stop. And, I remember our first year on Earth. I remember learning English, playing in the woods in which we lived and listening to the stories that the adults and older children told me about my home planet. I don’t remember much of Synthous itself, even though I lived there and heard constantly about it when I was little. The unimportant stuff that all children tend to remember is all I have. Like my room and my toys but unfortunately not my family. My room was painted purple and the bright lime green that all Synthiens seem to like. I had a hammock created from vinirees, which is…was a fibrous orange vine. Several had been woven together tightly and strung between the walls of the tree. I recall that they had still been alive, continuously releasing fresh sweet carbon dioxide, it was one of the few plants that did so. Their roots had constantly reached for the dirt floor of our home, taunt where they reached the floor and dangling where they still hung free. The feeling of dirt beneath my feet and the sun on my skin still brings me boundless joy. Sometimes I imagine myself burying my feet in the nutrient rich ground and growing roots. In my daydreams I become a large tree with dark course bark and broad green leaves. I become a part of the landscape. As old as the mountains themselves. I haven’t done it though, but I’ve always thought of it as a possibility.

I still remember my last night in Lima as if it was yesterday. It is my favourite and yet my most horrible and painful memory. When Nora told me to go that last time I had been a complete mess. I had walked away slowly, my feet dragging and tears streaming from my eyes. I had not wanted to leave, but I had known that there was no other choice. Nora was dead and the Eilnardians could still be after me. When I had finally reached the corner I had turned and looked down the street one last time before I started running. I had run and run and run until I couldn’t go any further and collapsed onto the street in exhaustion. I had later woken two countries away. I had been laid in a small cot at a local police station. Blankets had been piled onto my shivering figure; although I am not certain if it was really from the cold or just the shock of the previous night. When the police had noticed I was awake a woman had brought over a chair and tried to ask me questions about what happened to me. I knew I couldn’t tell them what really happened, but I had to come up with something to explain the blood and dirt still coating my body. I told them that I had been attacked in a side ally but had managed to run away. I told them that I did not have any parents. That at least, was the truth. They dressed me in clean, simple attire, consisting of a small light pink shirt and dark jeans and sent me to an all-girl orphanage in a nearby town. I’ve been here since. It has been five years and three months now. Five years of cold, marble convent walls, strict routine and praying, endless praying. I have never made any good friends, although I could hold a conversation with over half of the children warded here. Not that there are that many anyway. In the entire convent there are a total of forty-one girls. According to our ages, we are separated into different rooms, each consisting of about ten girls. The orphanage is huge and we take up so little of its vast space. I believe it could easily hold one hundred of us. The rules are strict here but they are not unfair. Wake up at 5: 30am and in bed by 7pm. During the week the sisters give lessons for English, mathematics and history and on Sundays the church opens for mass. The towns’ folk file in to take their seats in the spacious hall. And when all the seats have been taken, the people left stand at the back of the church. The sisters always kneel at the front. Positioned in two neat, straight lines dressed all in white. We sit behind them. In allocated seats that are always left open for us.

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