The Zoo is Empty Tuesdays
The zoo is empty Tuesdays. The animals recharge and we get in for free. And all along the way, ads announce state of the ark animatronics, and animals call from speakers in the trees, over the trundle, rumble, jingle-jangle as Dad pulls us in the star painted wagon. Dad prefers the holograms. They’re more real, he says.
The zoo is empty Tuesdays. We can walk there, now the littl’uns are big enough. Does us good, Dad says. Gold stars all round. Though we have to make stops to pee and have bench picnics on the way. And when it rains we take shelter and daydream, waiting, under a real tree, with real leaves that let drops of real rain in.
The zoo is empty Tuesdays. The walk is shorter now our legs are longer. Dad tells us how we must save the real world from the fake and we say that’s a job for Dads, as we eat our packed lunch by the seascape. The older ones are bored with life and the younger ones press star-shaped buttons, to feed holographic fish to the holographic penguins in the holographic sea.
The zoo is empty Tuesdays. Dad’s not with us. Disappeared into a black hole. He says, that’s like a hologram, reproducing three dimensions on two, all relative when we’re the only ones really there. Now everything is automated, even the colour of the sky. We climb the walls and fences and insert ourselves into the holographic lives.
The zoo is empty Tuesdays. My siblings stay home with their families, with their own surround sight and sound systems, their haptic socials and saveable memories. While they download the universe in their backyards and play game-hunter with their kids, I’m here. Wednesdays I clean solar panels. Thursdays I fix speakers, air filters and the automated sky. Fridays I plant meadows for the bees and water anything alive. Saturdays I check lighting, cables and flip-switches. Sundays I tackle bird and sea creature maintenance. Mondays I tend to the land animals on rotation. And Tuesday is my day of rest, when this evening, under the satellites and stars, I wander amongst the vintage, twitching, glitching animals, but I have my holographic father with me and it feels real.
Rosaleen Lynch, is an Irish community worker and writer in the East End of London with work published in a range of journals and selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 and a number of shortlists and as winner of the HISSAC Flash Fiction Competition and the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize with a collection/workbook, 52 Stories: A Toolkit for Readers and Writers coming out in 2023 with Adhoc Fiction and can be found on 52Quotes.blogspot.com.