The Land of Decoration

The Land of Decoration - Grace McCleen Ten-year-old Judith isn't very concerned that Armageddon is coming.

In fact, she's not sorry that soon "nothing of this old world will be left".

"[I]t’s good because polar bears are starving and trees are dying and if you put a plastic bag in the earth it will never go away and the earth has had enough of plastic bags. And because in the new world I will see my mother."

That's Judith's voice.

She sounds ten, doesn't she? And the uneven cadence, that feels very ten-ish, too.

Then, it's easy to imagine her voice lowered, just a smidge, with that bit about her mother.

That could be because the pseudo-orphan child-narrator is a familiar character.

But Judith's story manages to avoid the most predictable tropes of that tale.

She misses her mother in a very matter-of-fact way. And although that loss hovers behind her daily existence, Judith has other things on her mind these days.

Even more pressing than looming Armageddon? Neil Lewis. The same Neil Lewis who has threatened to stick her head in the toilet on Monday. Neil Lewis, the bully.

Maybe Neil bullies Judith because she tromps around town, proselytizing, warning her neighbours of the dangers to their souls.

Maybe he bullies her because she doesn't have any friends.

Perhaps because she dresses funny.

Perhaps because she is often picking up promising bits of trash to use as construction materials in the miniature world she has created in her room.

Or maybe he's just a bully.

Neil is also a non-believer. He is in the majority.

"People don’t believe in very much. They don’t believe politicians and they don’t believe adverts and they don’t believe things written on packets of food in the Co-op. Lots of them don’t believe in God either. Father says it’s because science has explained so many things people think they should be able to know how everything happens before they believe it, but I think there is another reason."

Judith thinks about this kind of thing a lot. More than many ten-year-old children.

And, yet, in her appropriately child-like way, as much time as she spends thinking about things, a lot of things remain intact, unexamined, unchallenged. Much of Judith's worldview is simple repetition, memorization of the principles of her father's fundamentalist faith.

But the vague threat of Armageddon pales in the face of the real dangers she faces at the hands of Neil and his friends. And it's this threat which fundamentally changes the world that Judith inhabits.

More about the world that Judith inhabits, and more about the way that Grace McCleen creates it here, on Buried In Print. Please check it out.