Story (Re)Release: "The City We Built in Life"


March is starting with a bang as Little Blue Marble rereleases “The City We Built in Life”. This story first appeared in Scout in 2017 as “A Monument to Our Greatest Sin”. However, today is the first time readers can experience it without paying a fee. Big S/O to Katrina Archer for bringing my work to a bigger audience.

The Silent City would not exist if I had not visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. On a cold, clammy October afternoon, I finished my walking tour of the city by exploring the stelae. It was a disorientating experience, made more so as the architects made many of the stelae lean ever so slightly (see picture).

I don’t know if it was during the train back to Dresden, the flight back to San Francisco, or a month later, but I remember thinking, ‘What would it be like for visitors if this memorial had one stelae for every Jewish person murdered in the Holocaust? How large would it be?’ The idea evolved (as most ideas do) and I came up with the Silent City and “The City We Built in Life,” the title an allusion to Marley’s quote in A Christmas Carol:

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by hard; I girded it of my own free-will, and of my own free-will I wore it.”
— Jacob Marley

In the last 150 years the human race has been building the Silent City brick by brick, building by building. But, unlike A Christmas Carol, it won’t be the people responsible for this misery who will ‘live’ there. It will be the poorest and most innocent of us, the ones without the resources to adapt or flee when the waters rise…or when the fires rage.

What this means is that a century from now, when a small child asks if the Silent City is haunted, we, like the mother in the story, will say:

No ghosts, honey. No bad ones, anyway.
— The City We Built in Life