The grid of people began six feet into the square from the sidewalk’s edge, with people aligned in perfect rows and columns so that, to each person’s north and south and east and west, it was six feet away to either the next person or a bit of the sidewalk. Here, on a lovely spring day, they carried on conversations, sometimes in pairs, sometimes in small groups of three or at most four. If you were directly facing someone, it was about all you could do to pay attention to that person and the ones on either side of you.
People from all around the region had identified this village square, this perfect square, as the perfect place to stage their, well, what was it? A protest? A demonstration? A festival? They weren’t sure. They only knew that they didn’t want to stay cooped up like rats in a lab cage, nor did they want to risk themselves or others by mingling too close in public.
Across three of the four streets flanking the square’s sidewalk, houses faced the square. In each of the houses, people were drawn to their windows and looked outside on the strange events.
Across the fourth street that flanked the square, there was a municipal parking lot. In the lot congregated a group of people having a tailgate party, mingling with each other as if nothing were out of the ordinary on this lovely spring day, with hugs and whispers and brotherly arms around shoulders and games of tag.
The people in the houses looked at the people in the grid and in the parking lot and thought, “Such fools.”
The people in the parking lot looked at the people in the grid and in the houses and thought, “Such fools.”
The people in the grid, imagining there was nothing to do that wasn’t foolish from one angle or other, carried on their strange, cross-legged conversations, arranged as if ready to play a giant game of Battleship.