Drawing in a Time of Fear & LiesWeekend

The Big Leader’s Morning Message

Citizens plug cords into their forearms, lie back, and await the word of the day.

Anthony Hawley, “July 26” (2017), ink on multiple-exposure Polaroid, 4.25 x 3.25 inches

When the big leader sent out his morning feelings message, citizens were overjoyed.

WIN! 

BOO! 

YES! 

The morning feelings message was usually one word, all caps, followed by an exclamation point.

At 6:07, bedside ovular messaging devices began to hum. Citizens woke eagerly from a gentle slumber. Golden halos grew brighter around the edges of window blinds in citizens’ pods. Sounds of artificial birds singing outside the windows filled citizens’ ears.

There were heavy eyelids struggling to stay open and there were deep sighs; there were arms stretching overhead like those in commercials for dream mattresses that generated perfect sleeps, wrinkle-free skin, dreamy grins, and physical satisfaction with one’s slumber that was akin to orgasm. Husbands tugged wives’ hair playfully; other husbands stroked husbands’ chests lovingly. The big leader was about to transmit his morning feelings message, and citizens couldn’t wait to get it. But, hey, why rush to receiving such an awesome nugget?

Then, they felt it. Citizens felt the faint vibrations in their forearms.

It was time to attach!

Each morning, when the big leader’s morning feelings message was ready to be received, the hole in citizens’ forearms tingled slightly and the front panel of all citizens’ bedside ovular messaging devices flashed a slow, muted red. With this they knew it was time.

So after some playful banter and a largely feigned lack of urgency, citizens rolled over and extended one arm out to rest on the bedside table. With the other arm, citizens reached slightly overhead for the retractable cord attached to the ovular messaging devices and pulled it out. The cord was white, the same thickness as what old humans used to call USB cords, but had a slightly larger attachment at the end, which plugged into the point vibrating in citizens’ arms. The attachment was about the size of the nation’s newly minted coins with the big leader’s face on them.

With a little work, citizens lodged the end of the cable into their arms until the toothy part was snug inside their flesh. Citizens’ first several attachments often caused mild discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and occasional incontinence. But as citizens daily bore into their wrists to receive the ever-stimulating morning feelings message from the big leader, the attachment process grew far less painful. Temporary physical arm pain was a small price to pay for the immense joy felt upon internalizing and embodying the big leader’s morning feelings message; not to mention the immense satisfaction of being able to give back while starting the day THE WHITE WAY, as the big leader called it.

Giving back because all the while citizens received the morning feelings message, the cord nuzzling inside their flesh drew blood from their veins. THE WHITE WAY because as the blood left citizens’ bodies, their skins, regardless of tint or tone, grew a little paler. The blood extracted by the cord went directly to the ovular messaging devices that in turn were connected to the central messaging agency that circulated the morning feelings message day in and day out.

CITIZENS! GREAT MORNING TO YOU! 

It was time. Citizens plugged in, then lay back.

CITIZENS GREAT MORNING TO YOU! YOU HAVE WON! YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU WANT TO MAKE THIS NATION GREAT! YOU ARE GIVING BACK TO IT WITH YOUR OWN BLOOD AND SWEAT! 

Attached, citizens closed their eyes and smiled. The big leader’s morning feelings message always started with a brief salutation before the actual message itself.

WHAT A GREAT JOB! I PERSONALLY WANT TO THANK EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU! 

Citizens’ smiles broadened. On special days, the big leader gave a brief expression of gratitude, and this was one. Citizens were already excited about receiving the morning feelings message, but this, this was unexpected, more than citizens could ask for in a single day.

CITIZENS YOU HAVE JOBS! HOW AMAZING! AND SUCH PERFECT JOBS! I DON’T THINK YOU COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE!

Citizens nodded in agreement. The big leader was right: how could they ask for anything more? Blood left citizens’ bodies slowly through the cords. Their skins grew paler, whiter.

CITIZENS THIS IS THE TIME! THE TIME WHEN YOU GET TO BE HEARD!

This was true and citizens knew it. In this new era, recently demarcated with a new numbering system for calendars and the new abbreviations BBL and ABL (Before Big Leader & After Big Leader), citizens were always valued for their work and always heard; they gave to the central messaging system with their own bodies.

CITIZENS YOU WIN! ALWAYS! REMEMBER THAT AND DON’T EVER LET ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE!

Citizens nodded.

AND NOW CITIZENS IT’S TIME FOR WHAT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR! THE MORNING FEELINGS MESSAGE!

Citizens glowed. Shoulders shrugged in childlike excitement. Hips waved. Citizens did a little happy dance in bed and grasped their partners hands. This was it.

CITIZENS ARE YOU READY!!

Oh, we’re ready, thought citizens.

There was a pause and a brief silence. A silence that citizens could barely stand.

And then it came; the message:

JOBS!

Citizens delighted.

What a message. Some sighed a great sense of relief; they had barely been able to stand the anticipation. Others shook their heads in utter amazement: the profundity of the morning feelings message; can you believe it? Others shed a tear through closed eyelids, struck by the incredible self-affirmation that the big leader’s morning feelings message allowed them to feel. JOBS! I mean, cmon, thought citizens, does it get any better than this?

Then, after the morning feelings message, citizens slept.

Citizens slept with an almost embarrassing sense of self-worth. Citizens slept with the comfort of knowing they were part of something larger. Citizens slept deeply without stirring until, once again, the birds chirped outside their window, light peeked in, and the morning feelings message alarm woke them.

As citizens lay in bed with eyes closed, cords withdrew from their arms and retracted into ovular messaging devices. The holes in citizens arms were still very open from the attachment that had burrowed inside their tissue, but no blood dripped from the pale skin, because the cords had collected as much as possible.

 

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