Withered Dreams

Juanita Rivera Vélez 11°B

Gather round kids, it’s time for me to tell you the story behind The Uprising. It all started around the year 2030. Things were very different compared to how they are today. Our capital, Tokyo, was home to the newly instated Empress of Japan. Her name was Asami Rokujō. She was the first and only Supreme Empress of Japan, as the prime minister’s role was forgotten. The first years of her reign were actually pretty great. She did wonders to the country’s economy and the life quality of Japanese people was above any other country. The streets were safer than ever, and everything bloomed under her touch. But everything that blooms eventually withers, and her reign was no exception. Us, the citizens, didn’t know, but she started to get sick. It eventually was too much for her mind and she developed mania. This led to bipolar-schizophrenic behaviors and maniac episodes. There was no one to stop her when she started implementing nonsense laws, and people started to get scared and wary of her.  Then, in the mid 30’s, she did the thing that secured her ticket to history books: she declared war on ugliness.  Let me explain further. In her deteriorated state of mind, people who didn’t follow the traditional Japanese beauty stereotypes were to be imprisoned or executed. Nobody took her seriously, until some were taken out of their own houses just for having an ‘ugly nose’. People were taken and killed every day. These numbers were escalating, and the citizens had to do something. That’s when “The Rebellion” was created. It was mostly made up by ‘ugly’ people, as people who fit in had nothing to worry about.  Me? I did fit within the Japanese beauty standard. But my moral compass was functioning perfectly, and I knew, that even if I wasn’t in danger, I couldn’t stand and look away without moving a finger as my neighbors, friends and people of my own country were being mass murdered. So, I decided to become part of the rebellion as a spy; the most dangerous of jobs, not the most moral, but necessary for the greater good: stopping genocide. Training was hard. Faking it every day so other people didn’t suspect was nerve wracking. But I knew I was doing the right thing. I had to save those innocent people.  Finally, my day arrived. I got accepted to work in the government, as a very prestigious advisor for empress Asami. It wasn’t the work of a single day. I worked for years to get there. Then, I got access to information about the captives and their whereabouts. I kept informing The Rebellion and they were slowly making progress. Only once I met Asami Rokujō in person. I don’t know the right words to describe her. She was kind and understanding, or so I thought at first. How could a person that looked so kind, but tired, could do something so devastating? Then of course, after five minutes of meeting, her demeanor completely changed and she became a literal demon in front of my eyes, ordering the execution of two hundred people without hesitating. Before I left, I remember, she looked desperate. She begged me to kill her. She seemed to understand she was doing something wrong but couldn’t stop. She cried and begged, and I cried too. If I killed her, all our problems would be gone. But I wouldn’t leave this mansion alive, and I still had some valuable information about the victims. If I killed her, those people and many more to come would be lost forever. 

That’s when I understood that the woman in front of me was nothing but a mere carcass for an illness that had washed her real self away. She had to be stopped; she had to be helped. Japan needed help. I remember telling her that I would make everything right again. Maybe it was stupid, insinuating something like that, but she seemed to understand and smiled through the tears. We never saw each other again. To liberate the missing people from jail, I went personally. I knew that if they discovered me, it’d be over, but I needed to help those people get to the safe house before we blew up the whole building. I was the last person to get out of the building, and logically, the closer to the explosion wave. A piece of cement and lots of debris fell from the sky and I could luckily escape alive, but the cost of life was my right leg. That’s why I don’t have one, kids.  Anyways, later we found out that the empress had been on the building on an unscheduled visit to the prisoners. She wasn’t as lucky as me. No one ever saw her again. I say it now and I’ll say it until the day I die. I’m convinced she knew she was going to die that day. She went there on purpose. Going to a jail that’s full of people that hate you without supervision isn’t something she, or anyone, would do. People call me crazy, but I just know it. She got her closure and made peace. The Rebellion was happy with the outcome. Sure, it wasn’t what we planned, but it was effective, right? Those who hadn’t met her didn’t mourn. After all, she was responsible for millions of deaths. But I did cry a little. Some people may not understand, but she was just a victim as we were all. What she did didn’t have a valid justification. Genocide doesn’t have justification. I didn’t regret what we did, and I would do everything exactly the same if we could turn back time. But I pitied her as much as I hated her, and that’s saying something. I was sorry for the person behind the carcass, but she had died years ago. After this, came The Uprising. You surely know everything about that.  Us the rebels freed everyone and organized a coup d’état for the taking back of the government and blah blah blah. We reinstated peace and did the best we could. Things nowadays are a result of that.   When I joined the rebellion, I didn’t expect to live this long. But I was gifted with time and I’m not intending to ask for more than I need. I made my peace, and I just hope that, wherever she is, in the stars above or in the ground below, the person, not the illness, will be proud of what Japan has become. After all, that was her first dream for a better world. 


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